summertime at the beach: San Blas

Ahhh, the ocean breeze, the salty air, the feeling of sand between my toes. These things make my heart give a little sigh of contentment. We arrived at the beach on Saturday afternoon, along with storm clouds, pouring rain, and disheartened looks on our faces. With the cumulo-nimbus looming overhead, I had to wonder what kind of “beach vacation” this was going to turn out to be. Forecasts predicted rain, and throughout the entire drive through Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and down to Florida, rain was what we got. We had a few breaks in between, allowing us the chance to break from the car for a few much needed “potty stops”. When you are riding in a car for 10+ hours with nothing but the Sirius 70’s on 7 station, and a BUCKET of diet coke to keep you entertained, well…things can get pretty ugly pretty fast. At one such potty stop, as we walked out of the McDonalds back to our car, an old man (at least in his 80’s) had stopped next to us, and was out next to his driver’s side door, messing around with some questionable looking clear glass bottles (side note: mom thought they were honey, but I told her that only in the deep south does honey look like clear liquid…and goes by the name of MOONSHINE. Just sayin’…). As he screwed the top back on one of the “honey” bottles, all of a sudden he burst out into a fast paced jig. It was as if the “honey” had overtaken his body, and the man moved so fluidly and effortlessly, it was as if he had reverted back to his prime, and the McDonalds parking lot was now a wooden dance floor at a USO function. But, just as quickly as he started, the dancing stopped, and with one quick turn, the man calmly closed the door, and headed towards the McDonalds entrance, oblivious to the open mouthed, gaping stares of his audience in the next car. I tried to catch it on video tape, but sadly, his nimble gams were too quick for my cam, and the only evidence I have is the searing image of a jiving octenegarian incased in my memory…

We ended our journey on Friday night down in Daphne, Alabama, where upon arrival, we headed straight for the local movie theater to purchase tickets to the latest Harry Potter film. Because, after all, Harry > Hotel….amiright?? We purchased our tickets, grabbed a quick bite to eat next door, and then promptly headed back to the movie for some wizardly wonder…the movie was excellent, and although I’m not a diehard Potter fan, I really have enjoyed the series! Oh, and the 3d glasses were specs similar to Harry’s…adorably in fashion if I do say so myself!

The following day, after another Armaggedon-like thunderstorm, we took off for Panama City Beach airport, in order to pick up Pam and John, who had flown in that morning from Austin. After picking them up, we squished like sardines into the car once more, and this time headed for Port St. Joe, and the local Winn Dixie to stock up on essentials for Pam, John, and my dinner night, as well as breakfast goodies for the morning. Well, after piling 5 people and allllll their luggage into an Acura SUV, along with chairs, towels, bedding, pillows, and other beach necessities, there was absolutely NO room left for the groceries…except on our laps. So after shopping at the WD, we piled even MORE into the car with us, and drove the last hour to our house in San Blas. It was an interesting drive, to say the least…let’s just say a giant bottle of rum gave me a bruise on my thigh due to the way it was positioned on my leg…I kept pleading to just drink it in order to relieve the pressure from the bottle, but apparently that was considered “uncouth”…whatever 🙂

Needless to say, we arrived at the house, and hugs and kisses from family commenced. I finally got to see my new cousing Hadley, and the girl just stole my heart…don’t worry, pictures of her and I will most definitely be posted…that girl can pose for a camera all right!! The sky was still dark and ominous, so the only beach activity that day was a stroll…dinner that night was Grandma and Grandpa’s night, so OF COURSE, we had some amazing homemade spaghetti and meatballs…oh lordy, I could just swim in that sauce…it was a great way to start out the trip, and a great ending to a first day. With food in our bellies and hope in our hearts for sunshine, we went to bed that night, listening to the waves crash against the shore…sigh…my heart’s contentment.

The following day, the sky still dark, a few of us diehard’s went out into the water anyway, even though the clouds practically screamed at us to stay away. I mean, water is water, so as long as there is no lightning in the sky, it really doesn’t matter WHICH direction it’s coming from…right?? We swam that morning, until Mother Nature told us we were done playing in her pond, and unleashed some harsher words in the form of icey rain. Thus, the score read Nature – 1 Blanda/Davis clan – 0….but, unlike the US women’s soccer team in the World Cup final, we would NOT be overtaken! In our family, when the going gets tough, the tough play scrabble…boards came out, tiles were laid, and the competition began. Words like CAT and HOME don’t get played in these games…oh no…if you want to have a chance at winning, you’ve got to bring out the big guns. The accompanying dictionary looks as if it’s seen much better days, its cover torn and worn, multiple games and “word challenges” causing its pages to tear and crinkle, a metaphorical cry of “UNCLE!” every time a new game is started.

The sky didn’t stay dark for long (thank you Jesus!!) and before we knew it, clouds were parting and the sun was shyly peeking out. Immediately suits were thrown on, towels were grabbed, and sunscreen was applied while running down the stairs to the water. Unsure of how long the sunny bliss would last, we took advantage by staying in the water till our hands and feet pruned. Bliss.

Fortunately, the sun stayed out some more. And some more. And some more. What’s this I hear? Is that the sound of weathermen in North Florida losing their jobs? I think so….what was a week of thunderstorms and rain was now a gloriously hot and sunny outlook. Of course, we still have quite a few days ahead of us, but I’m going to stay in the present, which right now is a hot and toasty 80 degree weather with sunny skies for miles…

All this weather worked out perfectly for our boat trip on Monday. We split into two “shifts”, and drove down to the marina to hop on a boat in order to do a bit of dolphin watching and Jacque Cousteau-style exploring. Unfortunately, unlike past years, we didn’t see dolphins this time around, but fun was had nonetheless…we swam, snorkled, and collected enough sand dollars to build our own bank. (side note: the currency conversion for sand dollars is 1.345 SAND (sand dollar) per 6.5 KELP…in case you were wondering…)

Monday night was spent much like the previous days, with gorgeous walks on the beach following a delicious home cooked meal. Afterwards, games and evening cocktails are brought out, and everyone pulls up a chair to watch the sun set over the gulf.

Tuesday has arrived, with more sunny weather, and thus far I’ve swam, tanned, and watched the dolphins surf in the water out in front of us…not too shabby! Life has slown down immensly, and I’ve enjoyed getting back to my roots, enjoying my family, and waking up every morning to the sound of the waves. I can’t wait to continue this tradition through the rest of the week!

(PS: pics will be posted when I come back!!)

hearts and happy hugs,




  1. Oh snap! Wishing I was there to see baby Hadley – I would be all over that baby with kisses! Glad the weather took a turn for the better. Missing all of the Blandas right now!!!!

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