Tears can mean different things to different people. For me, I’ve been thinking about summer. It’s almost over. I can’t believe how fast it has gone, and in a way, I’m glad it’s almost over. It hasn’t been one of the better ones.
Trying to find the positive things that have happened is hard when the negative things stick out the most. I’ve been reading personal development books and listening to Live Happy podcasts hoping to be more positive.
This is the third summer I haven’t gone on a vacation. I’m not used to sitting at home the whole summer and not getting away to clear my head. The first summer of no vacation I had lost a fairly new good paying job so that was understandable, but I haven’t recovered from the job loss.
All I can do is think about the memories of the summers I did have a vacation, the last of which was the last one with my two kids.
Gosh, that was a great vacation. It was the last summer that we actually had 10 weeks of summer break. I got the kids back from their nine weeks with their dad, just in time to climb in the car and head to Florida for seven days.
Vacation in Florida
I have been to Florida a few times in my life. Several times my grandparents, my dad’s parents, had a mobile home in Lakeland where they spent their winters for several years. We usually ventured there over spring break with one year over Christmas break.
One spring break I went to Disney World in Orlando. I was on staff for the high school marching band, my alma mater, and they had gotten the chance to march at the famous amusement park.
I was so thrilled to go on this trip since I have never gotten to go as a band member. Hanging out with the staff was fun, and I was envious watching the band march.
Spring Break 2012
In 2012 the kids and I finally had the same spring break, and we took full advantage of it. We planned a trip to Panama City Beach.
Yes, I was crazy for planning a trip to one of the hottest spring break spots, but we didn’t stay in the heart of the city. We found a mom and pop motel about two miles west.
It was perfect. Our room looked out over the ocean. We could sit at the table eating breakfast, lunch, or dinner and see the ocean. What a heavenly view it was!
Our last Florida trip and our last family vacation, little did I know, was the best trip ever. The kids had never been the Atlantic coast of the sunshine state so I hunted a place that would take our dog Zoe, who always traveled with us.
Research for the trip
I did my usual researching on Trip Advisor where I looked for the hotels with dog accommodations. Once I found what hotel would work, I looked it up on the website. I had narrowed my search done to three, emailing all three of them asking about our dates. (BTW, this motel no longer takes dogs.)
For $60 a night, the kids, Zoe, and I stayed at the Sun Deck Motel in Ormond Beach, about 10 minutes north of Daytona Beach. The woman gave me a room choice — either up and down. It was only two floors, and since I wanted to be able to see the ocean from our room’s window, I chose the second floor.
The excitement grew the closer the time came for the vacation. The week before school started we finally got our time away, and I could breath the ocean air.
Ormond Beach 2013
We left in the middle of the night and arrived at 3 p.m. on Saturday afternoon. Our room was perfect — a full kitchen, two full beds, and a window with an ocean view.
Fifty steps landed us on the beach. We spent most of our days sitting in our chairs under umbrellas watching people and soaking up the sun.
We ventured one day to St. Augustine, an hour drive to the north. The kids wanted to climb the lighthouse so we did that before the heat set in too badly. We also visited the fort and drove around the historic town. I would love to go back and spend more time someday.
Since the kids would need a few things the following week, we did a little school shopping and ate dinner on the way back to our motel at Snack Jack’s on the ocean, a hole-in-the-wall recommended by a colleague.
Other than the day trip to St. Augustine, we never ventured far from the motel. I loved sitting in my chair on the beach, not having a care in the world.
Watching the tiny white crabs popping in and out of the holes in the sand was fun. I saw a man propose to a woman one day and watched the whole family enjoy their day at the beach, playing some kind of frisbee game.
I loved how I went down there with a possible sinus infection and armed with antibiotics, which I never had to take, many thanks to the ocean for curing me of that.
The last night we were there, I took our usual pictures on the beach. I look at those pictures every once in a while and think about those happy times — how my two kids who fought at times posed without me saying anything. They didn’t even argue about taking the pictures on the beach.
My daughter told me on our journey home that this trip was the most relaxing one we had ever had. And I had to agree.
I wish I could have those times back, but for now all I have is the photos, which at times bring tears to my eyes.