Jack and I got home yesterday afternoon from our great mini vacation to the Florida gulf coast. We stayed in a little town called Niceville that's near Fort Walton Beach and Destin, two of the nicer beaches within a reasonable driving distance from us. I had been a bit depressed on Friday because of a bad test experience, but once I made up a "no school" rule for this vacation, I was really excited. I had grading and thesis stuff I could have brought, and Jack always has more stuff to learn for his first actuarial test in May, but we (I) decided that it would be much more fun if we took three days away from all that and just had a good time. And have a good time, we did.

We got there in the mid-afternoon on Saturday, and after orienting ourselves briefly to the layout of all the geography, we decided that the best thing to do that night would be to visit the new Hard Rock Cafe in Destin (this also went into our choice of this spot for the vacation because of my HRC pin collection). We found the Hard Rock Cafe in a cute shopping center, and it looked rather nondescript from the outside (it was next to a Books-A-Million, which amused me since all the other HRCs I've visited have been a bit more grandiose). When we got inside, it was a bit small, but it was cozy, and they had a great waitstaff who were really into getting everybody to dance during "YMCA." I danced in my seat, and my party-pooper of a husband just sat there eating and looking at me like I was a nut. Anyway, I scored a great Destin Easter 2005 pin with spring colors and a butterfly and stuff on it, and we decided to go bowling after that. We had found a big bowling alley in Fort Walton Beach in the phone book before we left the hotel, so armed with our bowling balls (and Jack with his new shoes), we hit the bowling alley. We played three games, the first two of which were a complete embarrassment on my end. He actualy beat me twice. However, I got my groove most of the way through the second game just as he was starting to tire, so I wiped the floor with him in the third game. It's all about stamina. I had been having a tame sort of fun at first, but I began to have much more fun when, around the start of our second game, five crazy college-aged people came to the lane next to ours and were trying to be as silly as possible, but in a good way. The alley also started a disco/blacklight/dance music thing around 9, so that helped perk me up, which I think added to my decisive victory in the third game. Anyway, three games were enough for our wrists and our wallets, so we went back to the hotel to get some rest.

The second day was supposed to rain a bit, but luckily, we completely missed the rain. We started the day with the "Deluxe Continental Breakfast" at our hotel, which basically amounted to coffee, cereal, and english muffins. They also had hard-boiled eggs, which is still a mystery to me. I really don't see that many people eating hard-boiled eggs for breakfast, but they must eat them; otherwise hotels wouldn't bother putting them out there. It's just not something I ever wanted to have for breakfast, but then, who am I to judge? We drove down to Fort Walton Beach to walk on the beach and around the boardwalk area, and we saw a bunch of spring breakers playing beach volleyball and trying to tan, even though it was barely 65 degrees and the sky was sort of cloudy. (I guess when you decide to go to the beach for spring break, you do all the spring break things even if the weather isn't ideal.) We found a seafood restaurant that would serve me crab legs and Jack a bunch of sides, so he dutifully and heroically sat there, eating his corn on the cob and french fries, and tried not to watch as I dissected dead sea animals in front of him. The crab was really good, and I got some yummy corn and mashed potatoes (plus two VERY large hush puppies), so I thanked him profusely for humoring me by putting up with my disgusting habit of eating meat. =)

We had hoped that the arcade at the boardwalk would open up so we could play air hockey or skee-ball, but we had no such luck. I decided that Jack had to see the inside of a Wings store (they have them all over Myrtle Beach as well, for those who've been there), so we visited one, and I tried on beachy clothes that just looked dumb on me. However, the point of visiting the store had been to introduce Jack to the grossness of the beach kitsch, and that task was accomplished with flying colors. After that, we decided to head back to the shopping center that housed the Hard Rock Cafe, and we found that there were many stores we hadn't seen the night before, hidden behind the front row. We got coffee at Books-A-Million and then wandered around some fun clothing, furniture, and greeting card stores, and after realizing our potential for fun shopping was finite, given our desire not to buy everything, we decided to see a movie. The only thing they had that we were interested in seeing was Million Dollar Baby, which had intrigued us even before it won the four Academy Awards, so we saw that. What an amazing film! I strongly urge everyone who's even the slightest bit interested to see it. I loved Hilary Swank before, but this greatly augmented my respect for her acting, and Clint Eastwood completely deserved the awards he won for directing and producing. (Incidentally, he also wrote the beautiful score, though the orchestrations were left to someone else.) I love a movie that leaves me with something to think about, and I consider a movie's impact on me to be good if I don't walk to talk about it right after leaving the theater. We didn't say anything about it for a good twenty minutes after leaving, and even then, it was only to agree that it was great.

While we were in the theater, we also missed the brief rain that was visited upon the area, which was nice. We had spotted a Panera Bread Company--a restaurant we miss terribly in Louisiana--so Jack got a sandwich and salad combo and I got a baguette to take home with us, part of which I planned to eat with my leftover pasta from the HRC the night before. We also stopped at a Wendy's on the way back to Niceville so I could get a little Caesar salad, because I decided I really needed to eat something green that day. We had a nice, low-key dinner in our hotel, and afterward, Jack sorted out the day's fiasco in the fantasy baseball league he helps run while I watched Legally Blonde on television. I had been meaning to see it for a while, just because it sounded sort of cute (though obviously without the great artistic merit of Million Dollar Baby), and I really enjoyed it. It's hard to watch a movie like that and not be a bit put off by the beauty of Reese Witherspoon, especially when her character is supposed to be so gorgeous and well-put-together that nobody thinks her brain is worth ten cents. However, I muddled through, and I was relieved to go to bed with a good ending lingering in my mind.

We got up the next day and, after re-visiting the Deluxe Breakfast (Fruit Loops and canned peaches), hit the road for our 5+ hour drive back home. When we got back yesterday afternoon, our house was still here, and our cats were fine. Matt and Steph had come over on Sunday to feed them and hang out a bit so they wouldn't get lonely, but I still always worry when we go out of town. We used to leave Patti alone for 2 days at a time when we lived in Philly, but we don't trust the Celia/Patti combination so implicitly... go figure. Anyway, the weekend was a pleasant jaunt into the closest either of us will ever again get to Spring Break at the beach. Maybe next time we go to the beach, we'll actually swim and get some sun, but if it's only as fun as this visit was, I can live with that. =)

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:-O you went to a Hard Rock Cafe?! If I had known, I would have sent you mula to get me a shirt!! Ah well.

It's funny you should mention having the hard boiled eggs as part of breakfast.. when I came into work this am and put my dinner bag in the frige, I noticed a plate of hard boiled eggs, cut in half like you see at a picnic. So, I asked one of the first shift staff if she had made them for something and she was like "no, so and so made them for breakfast b/c eggs were on the menu"! Ew. Scrambled eggs, yes; hard boiled eggs, no!

Anywho, glad you had a nice vacation away from the world of school and work. =)
I have a question for you about a mutual friend, please email me. bob at 3hd dot com. thanks.
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