Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Miramar Beach, Florida

Being the somewhat obsessive planner that I am, I have vacation locations picked about five years in advance; there are just so many places I want to visit/revisit and I like knowing they are on the short list.

Two years ago we made our first beach trip with Luke.  We hadn't gone anywhere warm enough for me to want to get in the water in 4 years and while we visited plenty of nice places (Europe, New York, Tennessee, Michigan) I wanted a warm, beach vacation.  Europe was great but there wasn't a whole lot of relaxing.  I wanted relaxing.

We loved that trip to Alabama so much that we knew we wanted to do it again before Luke was in school, because the lack of crowds is part of what made it so great.  So all the trip ideas got bumped to make that happen.  That time we went in late August then and only saw a handful of other kids, or even people, the whole trip.  We had 100 yard stretch beach to ourselves a few days!  We almost always had the pool to ourselves.  It was FANTASTIC.  We've taken many trips during the school year and knowing this year is our last chance, we wanted to make it memorable.

We really liked where we stayed in Gulf Shores, mainly for the lack of people, but also wanted to try somewhere new this trip.  Luke hadn't been to Florida so I started searching two-bedroom condos in our price range, on the Gulf, in the Panhandle.

Nighttime view from the condo
This is where we ended up, in Miramar Beach, which we had never heard of, with a FANTASTIC view from the 23rd floor.  We largely picked it for the price and the view.  It says it's almost 1,600 square feet which would make it bigger than our house if it was accurate (and I don't think it is) but still, two bathrooms are a luxury and, again, that view.

The Gulf is about a 15 hour drive from here, before stops, so we headed out about 11:30pm one night which Luke just thought was so crazy, to be leaving our house in the dark.  Driving through the night is really not fun, even if I slept every second I wasn't driving, which is impossible and didn't happen.  But it does make the drive much easier with a kid and it did go pretty fast since we did sleep large parts we weren't driving.


And it was all worth it because then we had a week of sitting on the beach, going to the pool, reading a lot (me), finishing Game of Thrones (Matt), and watching Moana every day for "quiet time" (Luke).  We often left our phones at the condo (mine made it to the beach once, the first night) and tried to have them down as much as possible, and we largely succeeded.

We'd typically spend the morning at the beach, come back to the condo for lunch and quiet time.  Visit in the pool in the afternoon, have supper at the condo or out, and then back to the beach for a few hours at sunset.  Finishing the day with ice cream, showers, and sleep.  It was fantastic.

We only got in the car twice the whole time we were there, once for a quick grocery stop (milk and local beer) and the other to visit a state park for some hiking.  We picked two restaurants we could walk to, almost see, from the condo, and were both on the beach.  (The Surf Hut where we had fantastic fish tacos that Luke mostly refused to eat and The Whale's Tail where the food was fine, nothing special, but the view was great.)

The crowds were much bigger than we had in Gulf Shores and we spent a lot of the week debating which one we preferred: better beach (Miramar), smaller crowds (Gulf Shores), condo view (Miramar), price (Gulf Shores), condo cleanliness (Miramar) but the lack of crowds (Gulf Shores)...

(We ultimately decided that while we had no regrets about where we stayed, everything was fantastic, if we make a 3rd beach trip to the area we'd probably do Gulf Shores again for the lack of people...which probably wouldn't be as great since we'll be doing all our future trips during the summer with everyone else.  So a moot point.)

Even going in mid-September the temps were still great, in the 80°s every day with the water just cool enough to be refreshing but still comfortable (which you know still has to be pretty warm for me to say it's "comfortable"  I prefer my showers the temperature of hot lava).  Although, strangely, home had a heat wave while we were gone, frequently hitting the low 90°s, hotter than the 800 miles south we had driven.  Where Luke's favorite part was the pool.  We could have saved a lot of time and money and found a close hotel with a pool...

That's Matt and Luke playing in one of the pools, as seen from our condo balcony.

We got home a week before my half-marathon which did mean I had to run a few times while we were gone, something I do rarely on vacation (although we were in Boston a year earlier right before my 10k, where I also ran).  After spending 30 minutes the day we arrived looking for the fitness center (Where I could see Matt and Luke in the pool, once I found it!  And when I told Matt I spent 30 minutes looking for it he said "Yeah, it's right there." and pointed to it, even though they never saw me running.)  And then did two early morning runs in the heat and humidity which wasn't great but how often do I, Indiana native, get to run beside the Gulf?  It's super rare.  And it was cool to see different neighborhoods without dragging a 4 year old for long walks.

It was an absolutely wonderful week, a lot of family time with my two favorite people, a lot of relaxing, a lot of enjoying the beach.  Another purely beach vacation isn't on the five year schedule but we certainly enjoyed this one.  A lot. 

No comments: