It's been way too long since I've been able to take a real vacation; especially with some of my family. Ace works long hours, but only the last half of each week. I try to work when Princess is in school. On top of all of that, the SKs are here, during the school year, on a very regular basis. Summer changes things a bit. Not only have we had the Princess full-time for over a year and a half, but every summer, we get my SKs a grand total of about 8 weeks (not all at once, but still...).
Life, and vacations, would be a heck of a lot easier if all the children were either here, or not here, at the same time. Alas, that is not possible; less so now than it used to be. After "the incident" that lost her bio-dad his parenting time (October, 2007 is when it happened; November, 2007 is when his time was removed), we haven't spent much time away from Princess. For the most part, she is still apprehensive to be anywhere unless one of us is with her, or she's absolutely sure her father won't be. I'm not complaining, mind you; just stating a fact. Counseling helped her figure out it wasn't her, nor my, fault and that there was nothing she, nor I, could have done differently.
Back to my point... Having her around practically all the time is pretty cool, most of the time. She's a great kid; very helpful, mature, playful, silly, and so obviously secure in her love for Ace & I ("my parents" she says). But sometimes, we need a break.
Since the older kids expressed no interest in going to the beach house, we planned this past weekend's trip knowing they would be with their mother, and it was a holiday weekend (thank goodness we have a beach house) -- blondie dog isn't fond of the bangs & booms. And, since Ace had to work on Saturday (his holidays "float" so this didn't count as one), Princess & I took the dogs down on Saturday, just after lunch, by ourselves, stopping only at a little stand to buy elk jerky.
The drive was pretty uneventful until we were about 25 miles outside of L.C. At this point, traffic came to a complete stop, and stayed that way for almost an hour. During this time, a lot of people actually got out of their cars to walk around. I decided it would be fine (since I wasn't going anywhere) to text Ace. If he was at his desk, he could check TripCheck for me to see what the holdup was. I guess he didn't find anything, 'cuz all he said was, "That sucks." Then, a little later, "A little cooler over there I hope. Surprised you have service there." To which, I replied, "Currently 82`, and me, too." It was soon after that that the police let us all through (slowly, but we all made it safe).
About an hour and a half later, I get another text, "You moving yet?" I chuckled, and said, "Been at the house for over an hour now. Got a few groceries, too." To which, he replied, "Oh, good. Looked at TripCheck and it said 2 hour delay outside of..." (where we were). That means we missed the worst of it. However, I did tell him later to be VERY CAREFUL when he rode (his motorcycle) over the following morning, because a motorcycle was part of that accident.
Princess & I fed the dogs, then had dinner ourselves. Around 8pm, we lit some of our sparklers (got some GREAT photos) and took a few videos, and took the dogs for another walk. At 9pm, they were locked in the garage, and we headed down to the beach access (open only for residents & their guests). Cool side note: there is now a full set of stairs going from the grassy area up top to the beach itself! This is new since the last time Ace & I were there -- Thanksgiving of last year. Anyway, we made our way down to near the water and laid out our blanket, then just watched other people setting off their fireworks. Usually, you can see the one fireworks display that is shot off about 2 miles north of where we were, but it was SOOOOO foggy, you couldn't see anything past the houses on the north side of the beach access! After about an hour, we were both tired, so we headed "home." That first night, she insisted on sleeping with me (I have to admit; I love sleeping with her!).
Sunday morning, Princess & I got up and had our breakfast, then took the dogs for a walk before heading into town. I haven't walked the north side of town in quite sometime (you know, where all the "antiques" & collectibles shops are?), and Princess was game, so off we went. We walked around for about an hour & a half, then decided to stop in a great little dive shop that advertises ice cream, but also serves crab cakes, chicken strips, hot dogs, etc. I have to be honest; their crab cakes were the third best I've ever had (first being Newport Grill and second being a little restaurant Ace & I used to go to before it shut down). We also stopped at the outlet mall and picked up a few things both for the Princess, and for the new baby coming in September, then we headed back to the house.
I stopped at the gift shops about 2 miles north of the house, and got a text from Ace telling me he was already at the house; wondering where I was and if I was going to be back soon. The rest of the afternoon/evening was spent literally hanging out. There were a lot of games played (mostly by me and the Princess), and a couple movies watched. We all read quite a bit, too. After another walk with the dogs, it was time for bed for the Princess; this time, in her own bed.
Monday was our most eventful day. After our usual morning routine (coffee for Ace & I, real breakfast for the Princess, and a walk with the dogs), we took off south. We started out by picking up fudge at our FAVE fudge place, then walked around that little town (which also does whale-watching tours, if you're interested), but weren't quite ready for lunch. By the time we got to the next town, we were starving, so stopped at one of Ace's faves, where we had fantastic clam chowder (the best I've ever had, and that's saying a LOT -- I apologize to "Mo's"; it's not yours!), then wandered around THAT town for a while. Down the road from the restaurant, we found a cool woodcarving shop and Princess got to play on a real wooden rocking horse!
Then, we headed to the aquarium. I haven't been there for YEARS, so it was neat to see, and to play with some of the "hands-on" displays. By the time we were done there, it was mid-afternoon, so we headed back "home". About an hour later, we headed out to get dinner. We ended up just driving until we decided on something, which ended up being a place we'd driven past a hundred times, but never stopped at. This one came highly recommended by a few of our friends, so we did that. The food was very reasonably-priced, and tasted pretty good (not as good as where we went for lunch, but almost), too. More chillin', then bedtime when we returned...
Tuesday, Ace slept in a bit longer than we did, so we just read and played a game until he was up. We all started cleaning up, then I sent Ace home. Princess & I finished cleaning up, packed up the SUV, took the dogs for a final walk, and headed home.
Of course, what trip to the coast wouldn't be complete without a stop to my favorite chocolate store and the smoke shop (meat, people; not the other stuff)? The fake surfing wave was moved to a surf shop next to the smoke shop, too, so we stopped there for some cool photos, as well, then we were finally homeward bound.
All in all, a good, though not as relaxing as when we go without kids, weekend.