Vacation (n): a period of suspension of work, study, or other activity, usually used for rest, recreation, or travel; recess or holiday.
Recently, my family and I sneaked away for a week of “rest, recreation, or travel,” specifically to the Florida Panhandle.
It was, even in late September, perfect beach weather. Despite cool mornings, the air and water warmed up to about 80 degrees.
The humidity, by coastal standards, was mild, and the clouds and rain largely stayed away. So did the crowds. We spent most of the day at the Gulf Islands National Seashore with hardly any people in sight — though we did spot an inquisitive heron, several manta rays and a host of other wildlife.
As usual, we spent part of the time searching for off-the-beaten path eateries and restaurants. We were unable to find the elusive British food store that kept popping up on our GPS, and struck out at the local seafood restaurant. That’s what we get for selecting a place to eat based on the availability of a playground. But, hey, leaving-the-beach tantrum averted and lesson learned.
When we could tear ourselves away from our rented condo’s stunning view of the sea, we cooked a lot for ourselves, having gathered groceries as we drove along the Gulf Coast.
For John and me, it was a change from eating out for our vacation meals, and it wasn’t as unpleasant as we feared. In fact, we found that cooking our own food saved us not only a considerable amount of money but also a great deal of time. It was just easier to pack up from the pool or beach, go upstairs and whip up tacos or spaghetti without having to get everyone washed and changed into dinner attire.
Ainsley, in fact, pretty much lived in her “swimsoup” and several layers of sunscreen, and it was nice to just let her go as she pleased without worrying about getting her dressed for a restaurant.
The best vacation meals, as it turned out, were breakfasts. With plenty of time and no real schedule to adhere to, John whipped up plates of French toast, omelettes, sliced fresh fruit and plenty of bacon or sausage, all served with coffee and juice. Like the rest of the trip, it was a pleasant break from the normal routine.
Beth Colvin is The Advocate’s assistant Food editor. She can be reached at bcolvin@the advocate.com.