May 6, 2010

Vacation! Vacation! Vacation at the beach!

You know how you’ve got those things you really want to do, but you don’t REALLY think you’ll ever actually get to do? Like, dye your hair blue, or have a pet monkey, or go to space?

That's kind of how I've always felt about a real "girls-only" vacation.

Growing up, I never did Spring Break -- I was always on tour with one choir or another, or we did the dreaded family vacation (just kidding Mom and Dad! Kinda...). Now, I'm 32. I'm married. I have limited vacation time. I just didn't see it happening.

Lucky for me, I had an encouraging husband, a little extra money, a free place to stay and a willing partner in crime.

So, last weekend, my best friend B and I embarked on a journey…to Florida.

Even though we’ve been best friends for 15 years, it was our first time really traveling together. (Unless you count those times we drove all over Ohio and Pennsylvania to see the Indigo Girls back in the 90s; I don’t.) Now that we’re older and somewhat wiser, we can afford airfare without borrowing money from our parents and can both legally rent a car (woohoo!), and we needed a break from the real world. Girl time? Totally pumped!

This trip was made even more special by the fact that it was B’s first time EVER on a plane! Since I, as a young’un, flew at least once a year to visit my grandparents in San Diego, the allure of flying had long since worn off. I was really looking forward to seeing the experience through fresh eyes.

I’ve decided to break this up into two parts: A little recap of our vacation highlights with pictures (below), followed (tomorrow or the following day) by a few reflections. Deep Thoughts by Written Permission, if you will. But, for now, on to the recap!

The Canton/Akron airport started us out on a high note: When I asked if I needed to do anything special when taking my CPAP through security, the surly old man who gave us our boarding passes growled, “Yeah. They make you sing 'The Star Spangled Banner.'” Since he was apparently challenging not only my ability to sing but my willingness to humiliate myself in public, I offered to do a duet of "Islands in the Stream" with him right then and there and broke into a few bars in defiance of his gruffness. That finally got him to crack a smile.

B: “Of all songs in the universe, why 'Islands in the Stream?'”

“Uh, he looked like Kenny Rogers?”

And then, B’s first plane trip! She was so excited she took pictures of the inside of the plane. ? This was not a comforting sight for her upon sitting down:

She did hold my hand during the first takeoff (aw!), and she may have ordered a bottle of wine at 9 a.m. But it was all good.

(As I like to do on planes, I struck up a conversation with the person on the other side of me while B was listening to her iPod. The woman happened to work for Habitat for Humanity, so I eagerly started asking her questions. When she found out I was a writer/editor, she said, “Oh, cool! Can you edit this newsletter I’m working on?” and shoved a piece of paper into my hand. Uh, lady, I’m on vacation? But of course I at least looked at it. It was Habitat, after all. Service work portion of vacation: Complete!)

When we finally landed in Tampa, we got turned around trying to find our rental car. I spotted a traffic controller with a huge ponytail and decided to ask for directions: “Ma’am?” When “she” turned around to face me, “she” turned out to have a goatee and a very deep baritone voice to go along with that ponytail. I believe he actually said, “Uh, I’m a SIR.” Oopsie.

After driving to Sarasota, dumping our stuff at the house and grabbing a quick bite to eat, it was BEACH TIME. But first, sunblock for us white-and-pasties. During my search for sunblock, I discovered, nestled in the back of a hall closet…a clown wig. A big, rainbow-colored, curly clown wig. (This is probably where I should mention that this house belongs to my family, and my grandparents live there part of the year, and they keep games and other weird stuff there to amuse children. There was also a whoopee cushion in there.)

I immediately (as you would, of course) donned the clown wig and resumed talking normally to B. She, of course, erupted in laughter. Because we are who we are, the next logical thing to do was to spend nearly an hour taking random photos of each other wearing the clown wig in progressively more absurd situations. To wit:

Now, I have friends who would appreciate a clown wig for five minutes. I maybe have a few friends who would pose for a picture in a clown wig. But B instantly knew that would never be sufficient. She's the only other person I know besides myself who could take pictures in a clown wig for an hour and still find it funny.

This is how best friends identify one another. :)

*It probably seems as though I’m plodding along and recapping things in painstaking detail. In fact, at this moment you’re probably thinking, “Good heavens, woman – how long is this going to be?! What, 'And then we went to breakfast, and then we drove home, and then...' I have things to do!” Well, here’s where the painstaking detail ends. Because the rest of the vacation went pretty much like this:
  • Wake up
  • Talk and laugh uproariously
  • Eat, talk and laugh uproariously
  • Beach (while talking and laughing uproariously)
  • Eat again (…you get the idea)
  • Watch movies/goof around/snack/laugh uproariously even MORE until our stomachs hurt, and then laugh some more
  • Sleep
It was pretty much my ideal vacation. (More on that in Part 2.)

So, in the interest of not boring you, dear reader, to tears, here are a few other (brief) highlights:

It had been a few years since I’d been to the (amazing, white-sand) beaches in Sarasota, so I’d somehow forgotten just how beautiful they were. Love, love, love the ocean! (Don’t love the sand in every possible place, ever.)

On a quest for a lox bagel (…drool), we detoured to Puppytown, a pet store with pens of puppies set up like a miniature town. As an ardent dog shelter supporter, I have major mixed feelings about these kinds of places, of course, but… The siren call of puppies proved to be too strong. I mean, puppies! In a tiny puppy town! Come on. Beth fell in love with a Sheltie, and I nearly dognapped this English Bulldog:

And the sign is kind of awesome:

Going on a brilliant recommendation from Trophy Life (who used to live that neck of the woods), we enjoyed some of the best sushi I’ve ever had. It was so pretty I nearly didn’t have the heart to eat it (except I totally did, who are we kidding):

At Panera one morning, taking advantage of a little free wi-fi, a group of 80-year-old Sarasotans took up residence next to us. There was some commotion, and we saw one of them chasing something with his cane. Turned out to be a GIANT ROACH, which he was trying to usher away from them…into B’s purse. He actually said, “If I can get it in this woman’s purse, maybe it’ll leave us alone.” Um, no? No thank you, old fella? Thankfully we thwarted that plan, and someone squished it before it could lay eggs in our belongings. Take that, Grandpa!

One of our favorite discoveries (besides, of course, the clown wig): A cache of old VHS movies. Score! Every evening we slogged through another classic: Annie, On Golden Pond and the original Odd Couple. After awhile, it definitely turned into a little bit of Mystery Science Theater 3000 (particularly during On Golden Pond: “The loons!”), and we got a little fidgety. At one point I looked up and B was doing this:

This was later identified as some sort of Windsor Pilates move. I took her word for it.

And, lastly, a few extra shots...

The backyard (Yes, that is a shuffleboard court. Yes, it is awesome):

Beach shot: What, is there hair in my face?

And, finally, B doing a Tawny Kitaen on the hood of our rented Versa (only $20 a day via Priceline -- woot!):

Stay tuned for Part 2: Deep thoughts on friendship…

3 backtalk:

wrestling kitties said...

Oh, it sounds and looks like you two had a LOVELY time!! I have never been on Spring Break either, never took a honeymoon, and basically have never taken a vacation without my parents. I feel the need to do something like this in the next few years!

I LOVE that you found a clown wig. I mean who doesn’t have a clown wig at a beach house?!

I also am a HUGE fan of shuffleboard; I hope you took full advantage of that.

More pictures please!!

(Do you live close to the Akron/Canton Airport? I grew up and my parents live about 30-40 minutes from that airport. They live in Dover. Most people do not fly out of that airport unless they live close to there. Just curious! And um, not for stalking reasons or anything…ok maybe just a little stalking)

Written Permission said...

I grew up quite near Dover, actually! I'm originally from Holmes County (Berlin, Millersburg, Walnut Creek -- all those lovely places), and pretty much my entire family still lives there. Small world! :)

Akron/Canton-to-Tampa happened to be the only nonstop flight that put us within a reasonable distance from Sarasota (and I thought nonstop was probably kinder, given that this was B's first flight and all). Plus, my parents could take us to and pick us up from the airport, saving us $$ on parking. :)

I HIGHLY recommend going on vacation, STAT, whether with your husband or with a girlfriend. It really is the best! And you can do it so cheaply, too! Our entire trip cost less than $500, including plane fare, rental car and everything else.

Ky • said...

I have loved EVERY minute of this update. I shall tell you my highlights:

1.) The goatee she-man.
2.) You editing someone's newsletters on the flight.
3.) The sushi looks amazing.
4.) You KNOW I want that bulldog. (That sign sort of scared me, though.)

I LOVED this recap and I'm so pleased that you and B. had a great time. That's so awesome.

And you two? W.K. and W.P.? You're funny. I love you both.

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