Destin(ation) Wedding – Part III

So, the morning of June 3, we were on the beach for awhile in Destin, yet later that day, we were due to hit the rehearsal dinner a few miles from the condo. Again, traffic was ridiculous down there, so any trip back and forth wasn’t trivial. We hit the venue late-afternoon and, considering it was early June and we were all mostly dressed up, the temperature wasn’t all that crazy. Definitely warm, but not unbearable.

The venue was pretty cool! It was a building with plenty of space, and a kitchen (that we didn’t need), as well as another out-building where the bridal party could get ready the next day.

The rehearsal didn’t take all that long, of course, so we got some pictures, met the other half of the family, and kind of went through the motions so we’d be ready for the next day. After we were done, we went to a very nice restaurant called Marina Cafe for seafood that had a lovely ocean view. The dinner was mostly uneventful, but everyone had a great time!

The next day involved a lot of back-and-forth, as Meg and Brooke needed to be with the bridal party at points, so Calvin and I had to shuttle people back and forth, and get lunch to take to them while they were all getting their hair done. Calvin went to the arcade with Uncle Jimmy for a bit, so he was entertained well enough, whereas I just had to field text messages and load stuff up when requested.

The wedding itself was lovely, of course! The weather was (again) surprisingly beautiful, despite being in Florida in June. My one complaint was that there were quite a few folks off partying in the bay while the wedding was going on, which obviously no one could do anything about. The wedding only took 20 minutes or so, but being able to hear everything was a challenge at time. Still, everyone looked and felt great, and that’s what matters most!

Calvin didn’t have any duties for the wedding, really, but Meg was handing out bubbles to folks as they came in, along with the groom’s niece. She was happy to help out, but Calvin was just happy to wear a jacket and tie. And getting super cool sunglasses as a wedding favor was extra special. 🙂

The dinner was mostly standard fare, with the speeches, cake cutting, etc. Rachel’s speech was really good, as was the Best Man’s speech, which was a pleasant surprise compared with other weddings we’ve attended! Again though, the food was good, the cupcakes were good, and everything came out really well!

The reception moved outside for dancing under the lights after dinner was done! Steve and I had gone to Sam’s a few days prior to stock up the bar and, though lots was had that night, we still didn’t go through nearly as much as we bought. I can only assume that they’re still working on it post-wedding.

The next day, we all convened at the beach one last time before we took off. The rest of the family hung out another day or so, whereas we had to head back to Marshall so Brooke could start her new job in a few days!

We loaded up and headed out by noon-ish that Saturday and took off for Tennessee, heading on a different route than we did on the way down. The plan was “speed” this time, rather than a more lackadaisical fashion as we did on the way down. We made it as far as Franklin, TN that day, after stopping at a Panera for dinner (turns out both kids found things to eat there, so we need to add that to the list as a place to stop on road trips).

Sunday, we pushed it and made it home by mid-afternoon, giving us enough time to reset a bit and get some laundry started before Brooke’s new job started the next day. In the end, Yellowstone was probably more the vacation for 2021 whereas Destin was more of a trip, but both gave us a wide variety of experiences within a month of each other! In retrospect (as I’m writing this quite awhile after we actually went…obviously….), we’re glad we took these trips in May/June rather than now, because it sounds like just about everywhere in the US is inundated with tourists. Hopefully it calms down by next year when we go to the west coast!

Destin(ation) Wedding – Part II

So after we left New Orleans, by this point it was nearly lunchtime, so we hopped on the road and figured we’d stop on the way to Pensacola (which we did). Traffic ended up being more of a consideration on this leg of the trip, though. There were tons of cars, all over the place, so we could just feel the population in the region swelling.

It was Memorial Day, after all, so we could tell folks were either heading back to Georgia from Louisiana/Texas, or going in the other direction. All roads led through Florida, apparently.

Now, the original plan was to get to the beach that day in Pensacola, but that beach we were heading to was on an island! Apparently, the bridge to that island was crazy, though. It could easily take an hour to cross the bridge due to all the traffic. The Baumann Clan struggled to get dinner the night before because of how long it took to get off the island to the mainland, and then get back again to where their condo was.

In the end, though the kids were disappointed, we just went to our hotel on the outskirts of town. This hotel, again, wasn’t ready when we arrived, so we had to go to a grocery store nearby to get some food and such. When we got back, the kids went swimming and I went for a run….around the hotel… There were no go running areas around where we were and I was trying to keep my miles up, so I did what I could. And it was rather boring.

This hotel room was pretty nice, though! It was actually a suite, so two rooms that were connected, each with their own balcony, bathroom, and TV. It was a nice break, for sure! So yeah, the room wasn’t that bad compared with other things, but it just took a bit to get in there.

The next morning, we got breakfast downstairs and then left to go to the condo. We got down there soon enough that I could go for a longer run along a trail close to the beach. It was pretty nice, but the wind was brutal!

We mostly hung out at the beach for the rest of the day, then! The crowd had mostly subsided after Memorial Day was over, so it really wasn’t all that busy down there. It was kind of cloudy and it wasn’t particularly hot, per se, but we were pretty comfortable. The sand was nice to work with and Brooke’s Dad made a very convincing alligator.

That evening, we went to Peg Leg Pete’s restaurant a short walk from the condo. They apparently wanted to go there for a few nights, but it was always crazy busy. We had to go down in person to get on a waiting list, then they called when we needed to be there to actually claim our table. The food was great, the atmosphere was very “you’re eating at an open-air restaurant right near a beach,” at overall, we had a good time!

It was so busy, in fact, that we even witnessed three people try to sneak in and claim a table without being seated, so they were politely asked to leave. Again, it was nuts down there!

The next day, we made it to our condo in Destin. This drive also took forever because, apparently, Destin, FL is like the Lake of the Ozarks times a million. Cars everywhere. Stoplights everywhere. People making U-turns where it should probably be illegal.

And, wouldn’t you know it, we got there and our rooms weren’t ready yet. To be fair, this time we were actually pretty early. The condo we were staying had 3 rooms, so the kids got a room, Brooke and I got a room, and Brooke’s parents got a room. The rest of the Baumann Clan got a separate (and similar) condo in a different building on the same premises.

Still, it was a really nice place! The living room area and kitchen were all connected; there were three bathrooms; the balcony wrapped around the main space, so there was plenty of room out there; it was within walking distance of a private beach. Pretty cool! They also had a rec room in our building that I visited a few times to use their treadmill, so that helped. There were multiple swimming pools around the resort, though we didn’t use those and mostly stuck to the beach.

Our room was a good size and had its own bathroom and balcony. It was nice to be able to spread out for a few days, where the kids could go to bed at a reasonable time, and the rest of us could get up and come and go as we pleased. Overall, it was a nice set-up!

The one downside is that there wasn’t much food within walking distance. One night, we stopped for ice cream at the complex next door to our condo, but if we wanted to get dinner, for example, you had to drive somewhere…and turning left out of that condo was mostly a nightmare. We had to take a right and pull a U-turn multiple times just to get to where some things were.

The beach attached to the property was also pretty nice. White, sandy beaches abound, for sure, and a tiki bar of sorts nearby with reasonable prices on drinks and food, so once we got to the beach, we could mostly just hang out there.

The serious downside was the economics of how this beach operated. We had access to the water, of course, but all of the chairs and umbrellas present were at the front, while the “riff raff” like us had to set up in the back

…and as you can see, the view wasn’t exactly “spectacular” from back there. Chairs were $35 a piece (I think?) and you usually couldn’t pick-and-choose the one(s) you wanted. It was first-come-first-serve, so to speak, so some folks would come down early that day to secure their seats, then not even show up until later in the day.

That night, we ended up picking up Mexican from a restaurant nearby (that we had to drive to), which was pretty good. I won’t say it was mind-blowing or anything, but Brooke and I went and grabbed it and brought it back to the condo. When we got there for pick-up, apparently there was plenty of space in the facility, so we could have all gone and just eaten there, but ah well.

The next day was the start of more craziness, though. Stay tuned!

Destin(ation) Wedding – Part I

We found out months ago that Brooke’s sister was getting married (yay!), but the wedding was going to be in Destin, FL on June 4th. Of course, when we found out about this, we’d already begun making plans for our Yellowstone trip. It was a lot of driving (and we ended up with two cracks in our windshield between these two trips, for the record), but made the most of it!

Brooke ended up starting a new job in early-June, so we timed things where she could end her previous commitments and take the time off where we could make our way to Florida without having to do it in one shot.

As such, there was a lot of driving that we tried spreading out over a few days. The first target was New Orleans, but we stayed in Natchez, MS that first night. On the way down, we stopped for dinner at a place called The Dock for some seafood. The experience was….fine, though the folks out on their boat docked at the literal….dock…were rather “impaired,” so we didn’t stay outside very long. The food was pretty decent, though the parking lot could have been better…

The hotel also could have left a bit to be desired. The hotel itself was alright, but it wasn’t the cleanest we’d experienced and, more importantly, we rolled in to find out the TV didn’t work and couldn’t be fixed until after Memorial Day (um…days after we would be there…). So yeah, we arrived late enough that it wasn’t a huge deal, but still wasn’t great…

The next day, the drive to New Orleans took maybe 4 or 5 hours, so it was a relatively short hike for us, giving us some time in Louisiana before we’d head to Florida. When we arrived, we were too early for our hotel to be ready, so we made plans to hit up Central Grocery to grab muffalettas (for Brooke and me….the kids got other stuff we’d brought along…).

We parked maybe 5 blocks away from the French Quarter, but passed Louis Armstrong Park on our way, so we figured we’d return there to actually eat. It was a nice respite from a long drive, and a beautiful, albeit warm, day.

Walking around the French Quarter was something of a rude awakening. We’ve only been around a lot of people a few times in 2021 and, well, New Orleans sure felt like 2020 never happened. TONS of people. Everywhere.

Anyway, after we finished off lunch, we had an appointment just outside of town at an alligator farm, which wasn’t really a “farm,” per se, but more of a preserve where alligators tend to live. We went off on a boat (kind of a pontoon, but not really…) and saw a ton of ‘gators out in the bayou. The dude running the tour was tossing big marshmallows out toward the boat, drawing in multiple alligators and giving us some of the history of the area. Apparently, the tour company bought some acreage in that area, and they try to maintain it in order to privately take folks out while also preventing randos from coming in and hunting alligators (by the way, “alligator season” is a thing down there).

The tour was pretty cool! It wasn’t horrifically expensive and lasted at least an hour and a half. The tour guide definitely had his schtick , but it was an entertaining experience and we all got to hold an alligator (something I never thought I’d say/type).

We returned to New Orleans to get our hotel in order, only to find it wasn’t ready yet (not the first time this would happen on this trip…). We killed 45 minutes by walking to the Mississippi River (pictured at the top) and generally getting our bearings.

After we finally got into our room, we found a restaurant to visit a few blocks away. We went down, found out it would be a 45 minute wait (again, the aforementioned “metric ton of people” in town…), and decided to hang out. Calvin and I walked down to Bourbon St. to grab some drinks to bide our time a bit, leaving Brooke and Meg in the virtual line…

….that ended up lasting 2 hours…. Again, there were tons of folks in town, so just about everywhere had a long line, but this one was quite a bit longer than we were expecting. Calvin and Meg did the best they could, of course, but eating dinner after 8:00 is something they are most definitely not used to.

The next morning, we got up in the 7:00 hour and headed toward Cafe du Monde for beignets for breakfast….and got in line…for another hour and a half!!! We’d been seeing headlines about Yellowstone and how lines were 50% greater than 2019 numbers, but I guess we weren’t expecting New Orleans to be this crazy.

In the end, the kids said it was “worth it,” though. And we ate a lot of beignets.

After breakfast, we headed down the road to Pensacola to meet up with more of the Baumann clan. More on that later!

Garden Update: 06.15.21

The garden’s off to a decent start for the year! We had a relatively mild late-May, but it seems like the sun’s been out for the last few weeks now and we’re already having to water everything to keep stuff growing.

The kale is over and done with, but we left it out for awhile because it seemed like the bees were enjoying the flowers. Brooke planted a few more kale plants that are still out there (aside from that gigantic one on the right that’s very much gone to seed…), but with the heat, I doubt they’re going to last long. We also don’t have any spinach in there either, so I’ll probably just be trying to keep a lid on the weeds until we decide what to put there.

One of the squash plants Brooke put in didn’t make it, but the other three are moving along. The soup beans in the background are moving along, though they aren’t particularly large yet. The flowers Brooke planted seemingly a month ago really haven’t done much, surprisingly, so I’m not holding my breath.

The other bean plants, though, are doing great. They’ve started to flower a bit, but no pods have shown up. I need to do some more weeding around the plants, but if we keep them watered, I suspect we’ll have plenty to pick in 3-4 weeks.

The tomatoes are looking good, too! We’ve got 16 plants, one of which looks to be on the outs, but relatively speaking, that’s pretty good. We’ve also got 4 pepper plants, one of which already has 3 baby peppers on it.

We’re struggling with the trellis system, though. We were going to get cattle panels, cut them, and bend them into cages, but we’re looking at $150 for that kind of an upgrade. This year, we’ll probably still go on with some metal fence posts and string to wrap around the plants as they get taller. There are a few plants that are tall enough that they need some support, so this weekend, we’ll probably get out there get it set up.

The strawberries are done for the year. This past weekend, Brooke went out there and transplanted all of the shoots that had inserted themselves outside the bounds of the border and moved them to the surrounding area. We added some grass clippings and compost to bury them, but now we need to keep an eye on them and keep them wet. Really any additional strawberry plants are a “bonus,” so if anything survives, great! But if now, then ah well.

Brooke thinks we ended up with 15 quarts of strawberries by the end, which is more than last year by a decent amount. She made some freezer jam with it, and otherwise, we just tried sharing them with neighbors. We were gone to Florida during the height of picking, but the neighbors were able to keep tabs on them and make sure someone enjoyed them. They saved us plenty, too!

The cherries have been the next thing to deal with! Brooke made a cobbler with some of them, so now we’re struggling with what to do with the rest. We’ll probably leave some for Calvin, since he really liked eating them last year, but Brooke may try to make some canned cherry pie filling for use later on in the year!

Similar to the strawberries, the cherries were probably “ready” while we were in Florida, though they were still delayed a bit relative to the strawberries. Last year, Calvin would go out daily and just pick and eat them by the handful. This year, he hasn’t been here enough to do that! There’s always next year, I suppose.

Last but not least, Brooke got into the bees last weekend and they looked great! She put another super on the nuc hive, so hopefully we’re ready to start extracting around July 4th. We may take some to Hannibal this year, as we should have a little more time to get an extraction in among the usual mud volleyball festivities. As you can see above, the frames don’t look capped, but there’s plenty of honey in there, so give it a few weeks and we should be good to go.

We probably don’t have much more to harvest until July! Once the beans come on, we’ll be busy with more!

Yellowstone NP Vacation – Part III

For our last full day at Yellowstone, we first took a trip to an area called Artists Paintpots. We were looking for somewhere to hike where there wouldn’t be a ton of folks, so this looked like it fit the bill. We ended up having to park at the entrance to the parking lot because it was still blocked off for winter.

The “trail,” as we’d seen in other places, was mostly boardwalk. Still, the weather was beautiful and we were alone with the surroundings, so it was a nice change compared with what else we’d seen.

The “paintpots” name came from the bubbling pools of travertine (read: calcium carbonate) that looked like a white magma of sorts. There weren’t that many examples, per se, of this particular formation, but the ones we saw were still pretty impressive! They were also relatively loud, as it sounded like bubbling goo moreso than the other pools we’d seen before (again: magma).

After that, we didn’t really have much of a plan, but since the weather was so great, we figured it was worth a return trip to Grand Prismatic. The sun was shining, the temperature was above freezing, and we hoped we’d actually be able to see things a bit more clearly.

First we got stuck behind some bison, though. This was not going to be the last time….

As we’d hoped, the weather was much better, so we could see things much more clearly! Seriously, it was a night-and-day difference.

We