Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Aches and Pains

I'm injured and feeling whiny.  I have a  bulging disc which is causing sciatic pain in my glute  - literally a right pain in the butt!  I'm not happy, I've been running sub 9 minute miles recently, loving my hot yoga and feeling stronger and fitter than I ever have.  Now I have to rest, which I hate.  But you know what, if I have to be injured, I'm actually glad I'm injured in America!  Let me explain. 

Firstly, healthcare over here is complicated, different in each state and I quite simply don't really understand most of it.  No, I'm not going to go all political on you about the pros and cons of (paid) healthcare in the US.  Nor will I bang on about the pros and cons of (free) healthcare in the UK!  I will however tell you that our experiences with doctors and hospitals over here have been excellent and because the husband is retired Air Force, we are lucky enough to pay a minimal amount for our healthcare.  That's about as political as I'm going to get :)

Anyway, I went to the doctor after having had the glute pain for a couple of months.  Immediately I was given an x-ray, medicine and referred to physical therapy which I started a week after the doctor's appointment.  A week!  In the UK, I would have most likely been sent home and told to suck it up.  If you are referred for physical therapy back home, there is a waiting list of several weeks.  Over here though, they're on it!   

2 of our children have been born in US civilian hospitals and 1 was born in a civilian German hospital.  We had private rooms every time and were pretty much spoiled and very much taken care of when in the hospital, without having to pay a dime.  The husband got to stay in the room with me the whole time and even had his own pull-out bed.  I hear this is not the case back home though, where apparently husbands are kicked out of the hospital at 9pm leaving new Mothers on their own all night.  Character building I'm sure, but I'm so grateful I didn't have to experience that and had the husband right there with me.

On the flip side, most Americans seem to know a lot more about drugs/medication than Brits.  That's probably because they're prescribed way more often over here.  Back home, more often than not, we leave the doctor's office having been told to take paracetamol or just suck it up.  It always amazes me how many of my American friends know medication names and terminology and exactly what the medications are for.  I didn't know any of this kind of stuff before I moved to America.  To be honest,  I'm still pretty clueless about most of it. 

So anyway, I guess what I'm trying to say is that although we do have to pay for healthcare over here, we are very much taken care of and usually pretty quickly too.  We've had nothing but fantastic experiences when we've had to use American medical facilities and I feel very lucky.  I do know this isn't always the case though and that there are many differences of opinions about the state of healthcare in both of my countries.  I will end simply and without controversy though, because it's true that no matter what country you live in, nobody really enjoys visiting the doctor in the first place!

Monday, April 28, 2014

Grocery Shopping - Expat Style

I went to the grocery store yesterday to pick up a few things, one of which was  Marmite.  I was in a rush so I wanted to get in and out of there as quickly as possible.  I got to the checkout, chucked my items on the conveyor, said hello and waited as the lady scanned them.  Unfortunately the last item (the Marmite) didn't scan.  The lady who was bagging my groceries told me she'd go find it on the shelf and get the price for me because I couldn't remember how much it was.  That's when it started.  She began by saying "G'day mate, Vegemite, Marmite" in a very poor Australian accent.  I smiled politely whilst thinking "C'mon love, I want to get out of here as quickly as possible".  Nope, more "G'day mates" followed and then she asked me if I was from Oz or New Zealand.  Bless her.  I told her I was from Scotland so then she launched into a huge commentary about how people from Australia love Marmite and Vegemite and how I sounded just like I was from down under.  I was still smiling politely and she disappeared off to get the price of my Marmite which I told her was in the Ethnic aisle.  

At least 5 minutes later, she still hadn't returned.  I was standing making small talk with the cashier about the dog ice cream (yes, our dog is spoiled) that I'd bought for Molly.  I was getting worried that it was starting to melt.

A few minutes later, the bagger lady came back and asked me what aisle I'd found the Marmite in.  What aisle?!  I told you over 5 minutes ago!  I remained nice and polite however and told her I'd show her where it was located.  Whilst walking to the Marmite, she asked me where in Scotland I was from.  I know, she was just being friendly and I do love how friendly people here are!  But seriously, I have this same conversation pretty much every time I open my mouth in stores.  She then launched into a huge Welcome to America speech, not listening when I quietly protested that I'd actually been living over here for a few years.  I think she honestly thought that I'd just crawled out of my cave on the Isle of Sky, having lived on porridge, whisky and marmite my whole life before coming to The Land Of the Free.

By this time I was running.  I beat her there, grabbed it and ran back to the checkout to give it to the lady to scan.  The friendly bagger lady was jogging behind me, telling me I'd love it here in America and how everything here is bigger than overseas.  Did she not hear me telling her I'd lived here for a while?!  Get me out of here!!  The checkout lady had to rescan all my items because so much time had lapsed by now (it felt like 10 hours).  I was jigging around uncomfortably but still trying to remain polite and nice.  The bagger lady was STILL talking, telling me that "Guess, what, I'm actually Scotch-Irish, perhaps we're related, can I carry your stuff to your car"?  I literally grabbed my bags off the counter and ran to the safety of my car, sweating like I'd just run a half marathon.  She was still shouting after me that her family had a lot of red hair...  I didn't hear the rest.

And this kind of thing, my friends, happens all the time.  In the past, I've been in the supermarket and somebody actually came up and begged me to say "I Can't Believe It's Not Butter" in my 'Scotch' accent.  Now don't get me wrong, I do enjoy chatting to people and I love that people are interested in where I'm from, but this lady was CRAZY and wasn't even listening to a word I said!  I'd like to finish my little tale by saying THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS SCOTCH-IRISH, especially when you were born in America!!!!

PS.  I'm happy to report that Molly loved her dog ice cream although it was rather watery from melting somewhat.

PPS.  If you haven't tried Marmite before, here's a rather funny Marmite commercial, to give you an idea of what it's like.   Enjoy!  

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Molly's story

This (ever so slightly sentimental) post is written by guest blogger Molly.

I've tried to forget my first few months on this earth, but I can still remember how cold I was, how scared I was and how hungry I was.  I was born in North Dakota which is frigid in winter and I was never brought inside.  I was scared.  All I knew of humans was that they yelled and sometimes hit me.  Occasionally he would feed me or give me water but then he would fire his gun which scared me even more.  He wanted me to hunt but I hated the loudness of the gun which made him even angrier with me.

One day he'd had enough of me and tied me up outside the Humane Society.  They took me inside, fed me and spoke nicely to me, but still I shivered.  He'd ignored the sign outside that said animals abandoned will not be put up for adoption but put to sleep, but still he left me there.  I was sitting in a kennel when a man came up and spoke to me.  He told his wife (who was looking at cats) to turn around and look at me.  She made a strange noise, came up to me and wouldn't stop talking.  They both had kind voices and tried to pet me through the bars.  The Humane Society told the couple that I was pretty wild and they left soon afterwards.  I was sad.  A couple of days later however, I was led into a small room.  The couple had come back!  I was so excited that I jumped and scratched and even bit them.  Oops!  They stayed for a while, talking and feeding me treats but then they left again.  I was very naughty back then, I can't believe they still wanted me.  They vet told the couple that he originally thought I was around 6 months old, but when he checked me out properly, he found I was closer to a year.  I was so malnourished that I looked a lot smaller for my age.

The next time they came, I was put on a leash, led to their car and taken to their home!  It was warm and quiet.  I had a huge, soft bed, lots of toys, rawhides, a fancy kennel, a coat and my very own food and water bowls.

Even better, they had a fenced yard and I got to run around like crazy, chasing squirrels.  It was so much fun!  They took me for a walk on my leash. I'd never done this before and almost pulled my Mum off her feet several times but man, the smells out there were amazing.  I was still scared of other people.  I would hide behind my own people and sometimes growl if somebody tried to pet me or approach me.  I didn't trust anybody apart from my own humans.

I guess they had been reading a few books on training dogs.  They had a plan and went into action straight away.  It was so nice to know what I had to do and when to do it.  Every 4 hours, they would take me outside to go to the bathroom.  I got used to it and learned quickly that I should go outside although I did have a few accidents before I got it down completely.  They even got up in the middle of the night to do this for a few months, just in case.  I slept in my kennel at night, I felt safe and secure in there and happily went in when they said "Go to your cave".                       

They taught me to ring a bell on the door handle to let them know I needed to go outside - sometimes I just did it to get their attention and hopefully get a treat but they soon wised up to this :)  We would walk for miles.  I loved it.  They would take me to the store where we sat outside to get me used to people.  I didn't love this quite so much.  I still would try and hide, but after a while, I realized that nobody wanted to hurt me any more.  I would sometimes let some people pet me and I would even lick them!  Best of all, I had 2 meals a day, plus treats.  Heaven!                                        

One night we went for a drive.  We went inside a building and into a big room where there were several other dogs and people.  Scary!  I tried to get out of there, pulling Mum over, but Dad took my leash and we stayed.  The lady in charge of us had a lovely voice which made me want to listen to her.  She told us what to do and helped us do it.  I learned all sorts of things, sit, stay, heel, down, go to bed, it was great!!  Mum and Dad enjoyed it too and the lady answered all their questions - they seemed to have a lot of questions about me. We went here a lot!

I still got freaked out sometimes.  Every time they brought out the ironing board or a suitcase, I had to go to the bathroom right there on the floor.   Balloons scared the crap out of me too. I did stop peeing in the house after a while and my people were really happy with this.  They weren't so happy with me when I got my chew on though.  I ate some carpet, my Dad's sock monkey from when he was a child, my Grandpa's golf shoe and several other things.  But they're only things right?!  And I am kind of cute :)   

Life was good!  we went fishing, did lots of training and walking and I finally started to relax and even like some of my people's friends.  Just over a year later, they brought home a baby.  The baby made strange noises and was very small but cute.  I kept trying to get a proper look at her but I wasn't really allowed to get too close.  One day, the baby was lying on her blanket on the floor.  They let me sniff her more than usual.  I put my paw out and scratched the baby on the head which made her cry.  I felt horrible.  My people obviously felt horrible too, my Mum was crying.  I couldn't use words to tell them that I didn't mean to hurt their baby but they decided that they couldn't risk it happening again.  They took me back to the Humane Society.  I could tell they were both extremely upset, it was a horrible day.  I felt sad that I was back where I'd started and moped in my kennel.

After 3 days, I was brought up to the front office.  My Mum was there, crying and laughing.  I was so excited to see her and jumped around like crazy!  Apparently they'd been talking about me non stop, decided that I hadn't meant to hurt the baby and deserved another chance because I'd been working so hard to be a good dog.  She didn't need to leash me.  I ran out front and leaped up into the car to go home where I belonged.  I was spoiled rotten when I got home, so much love and attention, it was fantastic!  I settled back in and we were a happy family of 4 now.

A couple of weeks later, I found myself in the back of a VW Golf loaded up with bags, the baby and my people.  We drove from North Dakota to California, almost 1700 miles, over a few days.  I had more space than anybody in the car which was nice!   We stayed in some strange hotels on the trip and I got to go to the bathroom in some weird places!  We drove this mega distance because we were moving to Germany and the airline said it was too cold for me to fly from North Dakota.  I love that my family did all this for me.  We stayed in California for a few days and then I went on my first airplane.  It was really scary and noisy and I hoped I wouldn't be in there for too long.  The only good thing was that I felt pretty safe because I was in my own kennel.

After a 14 hour flight, I was unloaded from the plane and put on a baggage belt in my kennel.  I lay there quietly, not knowing what was going to happen next.  Then I saw my Dad.  I screamed and leaped around until he let me out of the kennel, I licked him to death.  I loved Germany.  I could go to restaurants with my family where they would give me treats and make a fuss of me.  I made lots of dog and human friends.  Our neighbor would put all kinds of treats on the wall between our yards for me to jump up and grab.  There were amazing walks to go on here too and fantastic trails everywhere, so much fun!

After Germany, we lived in South Dakota for 2 years.  When we lived there, I got chased (and bitten) by 2 coyotes.  My Dad saved me by yelling at the coyotes and running towards us.  That wasn't a very nice day, but it made me love my Dad even more.  We now had 2 extra babies in our family too! 

Next up, I lived in CA for 2 years with my Dad's Mum while my family temporarily moved to South Korea.  I was spoiled rotten and had a life of luxury there.  Unfortunately, I was diagnosed with mast cell cancer and had to have a couple of surgeries to remove my tumors.  More on that later.

My family came back for me and our next home was in Virginia.  I loved it there too, lots of squirrels to chase!  I met a wonderful vet here who found out that if I took a human allergy pill every day, it may stop my cancer spreading.  I've been on these little pink pills now for 3 years and am doing great.  We weren't there for too long before we moved to Tennessee where we now live.  I have had one more tumor removal surgery since then, but recovered completely and still love my walks, rawhides and horsing around, when I'm not sleeping that is :)

Now I'm almost 14 years old.  I'm definitely a lot whiter than I was, my eyes are a little bit cloudy and I have a lot of lumps, bumps and scars but I can still pull my Mum off her feet if I see a rabbit :)  I have 3 beds in rooms around the house but my favorite place to sleep is on one of the kids' beds.  I like to steal food from the counter top whenever I can, it's great that my humans still haven't learned to keep it higher up out of my reach!  My favorite treats that I get this way are homemade waffles and hash browns.  I love my family, they take good care of me and I like to think I take good care of them too.  Life is good :)   Now I'm off for a snooze, I'm rather tired from writing all this down.

Regards, Molly LeBlanc, aged 13 & 3/4.


Thursday, April 24, 2014

A Tennessee Sunday

This past Sunday, we drove 20 mins from the house to Long Hunter State Park to hike the Day Loop Trail.  The husband, kiddos and dog were going to hike just over a mile to a beach on the lake and back, while I was going to do my first ever trail run on the 4 mile loop and catch up with them at the trailhead.  I need all the practice I can get before doing the Ragnar Trail McDowell Mountain in November, plus I wanted to break in my snazzy new trail shoes!  It was a beautiful, sunny day so shorts and t-shirts were in order.  As soon as we stepped on to the trail, a family warned us that they'd seen 3 snakes - not such a good way to start your day!  

3 little Camelbaks


I started running with the older 2 kiddos.  We ran about a mile until we reached the beach, then turned around and ran back to meet up with the rest of the crew. The husband told me he'd seen 2 snakes, both entwined with each other (it's snake mating season apparently).  He said it was very disconcerting because they were moving around so fast that he didn't know where they were headed so he could avoid them.  Shudder!  So glad I didn't see that, but it made me a bit nervous for the remainder of the trail that I would be running on my own!

We hung out at the beach for a while, chucking sticks for Molly, wading in the lake and just hanging out in the sun.  There were a lot of boats on the lake and it was just a perfect, sunny day.

Molly cooling off

After a while, the rest of the family headed back the same way we came in and I started to run the remaining 3 miles of trail back to the trailhead to meet them.  The trail had a lot of rocks, roots and hills and it was a lot of fun, although the terrain made me slower than normal.  It was pretty nerve wracking running along the bluffs because if a snake had come at me from the woods, I would probably have just jumped off the bluffs which wouldn't have been good!  Luckily, I didn't see any of the nasty things.  But I also didn't see any other people either which was kinda creepy.  Although I loved the challenge of the trail, I wouldn't have minded seeing some other runners or hikers.  I was leery most of the way and jumpy at all the noises that I heard coming from the woods - snakes or serial killers?!
Mummy in 'action' :)

Off on my lonesome

I met up with the family just before the trailhead and the kids ran the rest of the way with me.  Molly was exhausted by now, poor old dog! Instead of going to a restaurant on the way home, we stopped at a gas station and got some corn nuts
Why did none of my friends tell me about these awesome things?!

(first time I've ever had this delicious, salty snack!) and beer to have in the back yard when we got home.  The perfect redneck way to finish off a fabulous day!  I LOVED the trail running (apart from being a scaredy cat) and I'm really looking forward to my next run in the woods.  But next time, I'm not running alone!  

Well and truly broken in!

Monday, April 21, 2014

What's in yours?

My handbag (aka my purse in America speak) isn't a huge one.  My preferred style of handbag has a long cross body strap so I can chuck it on and forget it's there.   I favor the the left side of my body so that my right hand is free to salute any officers who may be walking my way, even though I actually left the RAF 17 years ago...  I guess that habit is forever ingrained on my soul.  I feel most uncomfortable if I put it on my right side although I probably won't be bumping into any RAF officers down the gym or at Target any time soon. 

Now that the kiddos are older and can carry their own stuff, the contents of my handbag are pretty minimal.  Wallet, chapstick, phone, chewie, pens, you know, all the usual things.  But I do carry a couple of extra items that I would never have dreamed of carrying around with me before we lived here.  I most certainly would never carry either of them around at home!

No. 1 item - Pepper Spray.  I always feel slightly guilty when I see my little pink spray cannister in my bag.  This is probably because it's illegal to carry it back home and I'm a bit of a rule follower.  But like most people, I have an aversion to being robbed/attacked/carjacked so I pack my pepper spray to defend myself if necessary - because I can!  People back home may think it's a bit dramatic and unnecessary, but I did have my finger on the trigger once when a crazy lady in the Walmart parking lot tried to take my groceries and get in the trunk of my van.  Not a fun experience, but I did feel safer knowing I could have used my spray if warranted and believe me, I came close!  I also have a runner's hand held pepper spray for when I'm road running on my own.  Better safe than sorry!     

No. 2 item - Teabags.   As my friends will testify, I carry a wee ziploc bag containing teabags at all times.  It's soooo difficult to get a good cup of tea over here!  Most places give you a tiny rectangular paper bag containing a teabag that feels like it's made out of wax paper, complete with a stapled on string and tag.   You need at least 2 of these to brew a decent strength cuppa in the usually lukewarm water provided in a plastic coffee jug.  Sometimes there is still a taste of coffee from this water because the tea is so weak and the jug is only used for coffee (until you come in with your diva request for tea).  Blegh.  When you ask for milk on the side, you get a funny look and then the milk comes to your table a good 5-10 minutes after the teabags and water have been delivered, thus allowing the already lukewarm water to cool further.  Oops, that turned into a right little rant!  Anyways, my main point is that instead of having to use the dreaded bags on strings, I have my own little supply in my purse.  So comforting for this ol' lady, it's not pretty when I don't get my morning brew.  

So there you have it, that's the 2 'special' items that I carry in my handbag every day.  What do you carry in yours?

Thursday, April 17, 2014

#tbt Canyoning in Scotland

Back when we were living in South Korea, we took a family trip home to Scotland.  While we were there, I surprised the husband with a canyoning trip for his Birthday.  Why I did this, I will probably never know!  

Wikipedia:  Canyoning (known as canyoneering in the U.S.) is traveling in canyons using a variety of techniques that may include other outdoor activities such as walking, scrambling, climbing, jumping, abseiling (rapelling), and/or swimming

I booked it through G2  who made the video above and were very helpful considering we lived so far away.  All we had to do on the day was show up!  They most certainly did.  We were the only 2 who had booked for that particular day, so it was like having a custom made trip just for us.  Doesn't get better than that!  My memory is a wee bitty sketchy so please bear with me as I try to remember our awesome morning canyoning in the Highlands of Scotland!     

Yes, that's me!

First we were fitted for our wetsuits, life jackets and helmets at G2's HQ in Aviemore.  That didn't take too long and we were soon on the road to get to our starting point.  It took about 45 mins to get to the canyoning location and we quickly changed into our wetsuits in the car park.  Not much privacy going on, but there wasn't much traffic going by either, thank goodness!   Our guide was called Andy, he was enthusiastic, confident and a good laugh too which was a bonus. 

Immediately we set off up a steep and pretty muddy trail, following a river, I was out of breath pretty quickly.  We climbed for about an hour, surrounded by amazing Scottish scenery and even more amazing Scottish weather (ie. it wasn't raining).  Andy then informed us we were at the start.

It was about this time I thought "What the hell have I got us into?"  But it was a bit late in the day for regrets.  Andy had ropes, a camera and some other safety equipment that I didn't really want to know what  was for.  He briefed us on the best way to slide down rock chutes and the best way to jump into pools.  He smiled, climbed down to the river, lay on his back and pushed off down what can only be described as a natural water slide made of rocks.  He splashed into the pool at the bottom (which was black from peat but clean) and told us to follow.  I'm not going to lie, I was crapping myself.  But I didn't want to be all 'weak sauce' so got in there, screamed at how cold it was and pushed off.  IT WAS AWESOME!!!!  Until I landed in the pool at the bottom, went under and about passed out with the freezing cold!!!  Andy was taking photos to capture the expressions on our faces.  The husband came down quickly after me and once we climbed out, we agreed it was fun so far.   Kind of...

This is the husband's "Bloody hell it's freezing" face

Much squealing from myself
We had to make our way out of the pool and climb up a rocky face to a platform that was very high above another black pool.  Andy was grinning at us as he launched himself into the pool below.  My high from staying alive after the rock chute disappeared rapidly as I looked over the edge of the platform and realized how high up it was!  I'm ashamed to admit that I wimped out of the high platform and climbed down to a lower one.  But I finally jumped, it was scary but definitely exhilarating at the same time.  The husband of course, did the high one and loved it.  

We slowly made our way down the mountain, sliding, jumping, climbing, walking and pulling ourselves through and along the river.  At one point, they had set up a tarpaulin hanging down a huge, almost vertical rock face - a massive slide down into another pool!  This was amazing!  We did it twice and I was starting to enjoy myself and forget about the possibility of imminent death :)

Rock slide

It took at least a couple of hours before we arrived at a large waterfall with a huge pool.  We abseiled down under the waterfall which was again scary, but amazing and then finished off by jumping into the pool below.  Brilliant!  I thought it was over, but no, we made our way further along the river and met up with another staff member who hooked us up to a zipline that we took all the way across a huge ravine above the large waterfall.  Yes, of course I screamed the entire way, but you couldn't not enjoy it at the same time!!!

More squealing

Captain Confident

We lived!!! 

We were on such a high afterwards!  We hiked back down to the car park where we changed, said goodbye to the G2 peeps and went on our merry way to be tourists for the rest of the day, visiting The Dalmore Distillery and having amazing coffee and cake at The Mountain Cafe in Aviemore before having a child-free date night.  If you're ever there, you really have to visit them.  Their food, but most especially their cakes, are to die for.   

I would definitely recommend you try canyoning if you have the chance, you will  have a blast!!!  G2 were amazing and I'm so glad we were lucky enough to find such a fantastic company to take us on our first canyoning experience.  We will definitely do this again and will take the kiddos when they're older :)  Have you done anything adventurous recently? 

Monday, April 14, 2014

Got Mail?

The American mailbox
One thing in America that's still strange to me is the home mailbox.  I really miss the days of having a simple letterbox in your front door.  The mail goes straight from the postie's bag and safely into your house instead of being left in a box on the roadside for any Tom, Dick or Harry to lift out should they so desire - and sometimes, unfortunately, they do.  Even 10 Downing Street has a letterbox on the front door for pete's sake!

Mailboxes here cost a small fortune.  Especially when you live in a neighborhood where they all have to meet certain specifications, although the main specifications also seem to include a flimsy red flag to raise when you have outgoing mail in your box or a flimsy door that invariably falls open on a windy, rainy day, rendering your mail wet and maybe even blown away by the time you go to take it out of the bleedin' box! 


Apparently it's a 'fun' hobby for some of the misguided youth of today to drive up and down a road with a baseball bat, knocking the crap out of the lines of mailboxes.  Easy targets.  Birds love mailboxes too.  There's a handy wee perch above our particular box.  If you don't regularly put Bird B Gone on there, the top of your mailbox will have a huge pile of bird poo within a day.  I can think of better ways to spend my weekend than scraping bird poo off my mailbox or paying to get it repaired from baseball bat damage! 

Not exactly mailbox related, but oh dear!
Roadside mailboxes are exactly that.  They are right on the bleedin' road - main road, back road, no matter!  Sometimes you just miss banging into these by only a hair's breadth.  Especially if the door has fallen open in the wind and is sticking out more than usual.  It's actually against the law to damage a person's mailbox, but you can see most mailboxes alongside busy roads have lots of scratches and dents on them!   

So much to say about mailboxes I hear you say?  Who knew!  It's just another wee difference between the UK and the USA I guess :)  And I do like to talk...  Till next time people :)

Sunday, April 13, 2014


I'm proud to say that I'm now featured on!  

In true Scottish style I think that I will celebrate with a beer (American of course), so cheers y'all and thanks for reading my wee blog :)


Friday, April 11, 2014

Vacation Recap and a Birdshark


America, y'all got it goin' on!!  We just returned from our Spring Break vacation.  Admittedly, our choice of holiday has changed over the years now we have children, but I defy anybody to go to Sandestin Resort, FL and not have a thoroughly enjoyable time.  Did I bring back some extra poundage?  Absolutely!  But it was totally worth it and hopefully my tan covers it up somewhat.  Coronas, Margaritas, Crab Legs, beignets and Pina Colada Cake featured heavily during our week, Shirley Temples for the kiddos :)

I won't bore you with every detail, but our vacation was easy, relaxing and fun.  You know, the way vacations are supposed to be!  We booked our condo through on a friend's recommendation and we were not disappointed.   The condo was spacious, clean and even had a Keurig so I could have my morning cup of tea :)  It was steps away from a huge outdoor pool with 2 hot tubs and just up the street from Baytowne Wharf with it's many restaurants, boardwalks, stores, ziplining - you name it, they have it.


We were surrounded by beautiful trees and gardens and you could see the beautiful bay.  It even came with a golf cart that enabled us to drive around the resort, to the beach and to and from the fabulous restaurants at Grand Boulevard just outside the resort itself.  As you can imagine, the kids loved it!   
There were golf courses, lakes and swimming pools everywhere and miles of bike/running paths.  You can fish in the bay or in any of the lakes, it was fantastic!  All very convenient yes, but also very beautifully landscaped so you didn't realize you were inside a resort.

We spent a lot of time on the beach which was perfect with white sand, clear blue sea AND THERE WAS A BAR RIGHT THERE!  The husband and me thoroughly enjoyed chilling on the beach chairs with ice cold Coronas & limes interspersed with footie games with the kiddos.  Bliss!  

There were even nice, clean toilets in a trailer just off the beach :)  People had coolers full of their own drinks and food - we'll definitely do this next time to save a bit of cash.  Americans are very organized on vacation with their own coolers & ice, chairs, music, you name it.  I love it!  But even if you don't bring your own, you can always get what you need for a fee which suited our unprepared selves.  Most folks had golf carts, so much easier to get around than with a car and so much easier to park too.   We watched dolphins in the ocean and saw the sun setting.   I miss it already.
Didn't manage a dolphin photo so this pelican will have to do :)

I did, however, have a wee scary moment.  I was nervous about sharks before we even arrived and was determined not to let the kiddos go deep in the ocean.  At first I wouldn't let them go in above their shins, but I eventually relented and let them go in up to their thighs.  They were jumping around in the water with lots of other people when I saw what looked like a fin further out and to their right.  Seriously, my heart was pounding.  I ran to them and brought them in whilst trying not to scare them and then realized that it was just a bird, or as the husband now calls it, a birdshark.  Pfffft.  The bloody thing's neck was long and it really looked like a fin from a distance.  Better safe than sorry I say!!  
 Birdshark survivors

Although we spent most of our time in the resort, we did have a nostalgic trip to Eglin Air Force Base for old time's sake.  The husband retired from the Air Force 2 years ago so we quite fancied revisiting the world of Sunday Brunch in the Officer's Club and a bit of cheap shopping in the BX (Base Exchange - a huge store) again.  It was fun but we can live without it I guess :)

We also visited The Crab Trap on the beach where we devoured 4lbs of crab legs, 2lbs of shrimp, a ton of hush puppies, potatoes and sweetcorn.  Delish!  There was a lovely beach there too where we spent the rest of the afternoon.  It was quieter than our resort beach and really relaxing but didn't have the Bar, so no Coronas this time. 
We met up with friends of ours from way back who now live close to Destin, which was great!  The menfolk went fishing for the day and brought back several red snapper fish.  Lucky for us, Tre prepared the fish, battered them up and made us the most delicious fish tacos - even the kiddos loved them :)  Thanks Sam, Tre and Mason for your amazing hospitality!  A few sparkling beverages were also enjoyed!

Anyway, we are lucky enough to live a mere 6 and a half hours away from Sandestin and have already booked our return trip.  This time we're taking my parents while they are over visiting from Scotland and we are renting a villa with a 6 person golf cart.  I know they'll love it too as long as the husband doesn't scare them too much with his cart driving skills, or maybe that's just me...  Now it's time to get back to running and Hot Yoga to lose the vacation lard before our next trip.  Happy Travels!