On Friday morning, we woke up to a dark and overcast sky. We say every year that you need just one good day of rain at the beach.. it forces you to stay inside, snuggle up, and not feel guilty about all the things you should be out and doing on vacation, ha!! Nana and I enjoyed sitting out on the balcony and watching as the thunderstorms rolled in. While we were watching this particular one, we noticed there was a white spiral in the ocean right in the middle of the storm!!
It was the start of a water spout!!!! And y'all, it was SCARY!!! It got bigger as it came in closer to shore..
..and when it finally came on land, it started blowing chairs and umbrellas all over the place!! Things were just flying.. it was insane!!
Despite the crazy water tornado thing, there's something daunting and a just little bit exciting as a storm comes in.. we loved watching the rain move in towards us.
Wadie and the rest of our crew joined us on the balcony for some morning snuggles..
And as quickly as the storms came in, they rolled back out. We loved how pretty it was in between them!
We took advantage of the rainy day by getting dressed and going into town to do some souvenir shopping!!
You can imagine how excited the kids were to enter this big mouth, ha!!
We said absolutely no crabs, but that didn't stop the kids from picking up and looking at every single one in the cage!!
After about an hour at this souvenir shop, it was time to hit up the next one, ha!! But on our way out, we had to stop and take some pictures with the pirate ship!!
Yo ho, mateyyyys!!
We ate lunch at this cute little pizza place and then went back home for dessert - ice cream and Oreos!! Yuuum!
Hahaa, Samuel learned how to double-fist it on this trip!!
Finally, with a break in the weather, Wadie took the big kids swimming while Nan and I and the baby stayed in to nap and recuperate from all the shopping, ha!! Can you spy Wade?! He's right smack-dab in the center!!
After an afternoon in the pool and at the beach, Wade took Savannah and Andrew out for another adventure.. Putt Putt Golf!! It was their first time to play and they came home SO EXCITED and telling me all about the volcano they walked over!! And the open crocodile's mouth!! And how the nice man gave them 1,000 tickets at the arcade, so that they could bring home rings!! And bracelets!! And bows and arrows, hahaa!! WHAT A NIGHT!! They were so sweet and appreciative and I enjoyed seeing how such simple little things made them so happy.
Sadly, Nana and I used that evening to begin doing our last loads of laundry, cleaning up the condo, and packing up what we could.. because we were heading home in the morning.
On our last morning of waking up in this paradise, I got up early, grabbed my camera, and headed out to walk the beach. Just the Lord and me.
I couldn't stop myself from snapping pictures of everything that grabbed my eye and my heart. Prepare for picture overload..
"The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; His mercies never come to an end. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness." Lamentations 3:22-23
"Small is the gate and narrow is the way that leads to life.." Matthew 7:14
I saw birds getting their breakfast, being cared for by their Creator..
..and the lyric, "Who told the oceans you can only come this far..??" kept playing in my head. Y'all, we have an awesome God. He keeps everything in orbit, everything in its place, and determines what is right and good for us. There are no better hands to be in, no greater love to know, no One who offers us more. We have only to accept His precious gift of salvation, turning away from our sins and placing our trust and faith in Him. How simple, how precious. How incredibly life changing.
"Truly, He is my rock and my salvation. He is my fortress; I will not be shaken." Psalm 62:6
This little bird made me laugh!! He got as close to the water as he could..
I walked for awhile and then stopped and breathed in that good Gulf air.
As I was taking it all in, about to turn around and start the trek back home, I felt something odd and heavy on my foot.. I looked down and saw a HUMONGOUS crab just sitting on my foot as the wave came in and then went back out!! Like the kind of crabs you EAT!! I did a karate kick right there in the air, hahaa!! I knew that thing could pinch!! I tried to get my camera out as fast as I could, but I was too late. He was swept back into the water where he belongs.. but I still took a picture of right where it happened so that I wouldn't forget!! How crazy?!
I also ran into this thing on the way back!!
I could feel the cool breeze and knew more storms were coming..
Right before I got back to the condo, a little pod of dolphins swam past!! This is the only shot I got of them, but the neatest thing was getting the attention of three kids that were playing at the beach and pointing the dolphins out to them.. they loved it and got so excited!! It was so sweet!!
Goodbye, Poole chairs!! Until next summer!!
Our group picture!! Orange Beach Vacation 2016!!
And you know we had to end with some silly ones. ;))
One last tradition as we rolled out of town?? Lambert's, the home of throwed rolls!! The bread is my favorite part and the experience is SO FUN!! ((And I have to laugh.. I found this old blogpost from 2014 and this one from 2012!! And they both look almost exactly like this one, ha!! We are loyal to our favorite local spots, that's for sure!!))
Love my people!!
We got there 15 minutes before they even opened, because.. it's Lambert's. They are the only restaurant I know of that gets this huge long line outside every single time, every single year!! So while we waited, the kids played around on some of their outside toys..
Can someone please explain to me how Savannah is so grown up already?!!
Samuel was so happy to just sit and drive his little truck..
We were quickly seated inside and got ready to order.. It was hard to look at the menu though, when this gorgeous face was smiling at me!!
Yesssssss. Those big drinks, fried okra, and that apple butter on warm bread.. it's the best part of Lambert's!!
Here we are 4 years ago!!
And again in 2016!!
We devoured all of the sides they passed around..
..and I think Vannie enjoyed her fried chicken. :))
What a wonderful week it had been, wrapped up with one delicious experience, a rather quick ride home, and memories that will go down in the books as some of the very best.
We were so thankful for a safe trip (we witnessed 5 accidents happen there and back! Scary!!), excited that the kids all enjoyed the beach as much as Wade and I always do, and incredibly grateful to Nan for all the help she was to us. Our hands are so full, but you should see our hearts.. they're maxed out and freely overflowing.
What a beautiful and inspiring trip, one that restored sanity to our schedule, giving us a week of unfettered, uncommitted days to simply enjoy each other. It allowed us quiet moments and new experiences, extra snuggles and a little more attention on what really matters. It provided sweet conversations and crashing waves and warm naps on the sand. It made time for hot cups of coffee on the balcony with the Lord and His Word first thing in the morning and hours of go-carting and golfing and crabbing in the breezy nights. It gave us the opportunities for sandy shells, shark tooth necklaces, carousel rides, and fresh rolls with apple butter.. all of which makes for a balm more powerful and rejuvenating than you can imagine. I am eternally grateful to the Giver of all good gifts..
"Because Your love is better than life, my lips will glorify You. I will praise You as long as I live, and in Your name, I will lift up my hands." Ps 63:3-4