Thursday, June 7, 2012

Regina's Resort Retreat

Air, Sea, & Sand Snapshots: Panama City, FL

One Friday afternoon, the Hodge-podge (a.k.a. Josh and Regina) scrambled about their home in Nashville, Tennessee. I had requested off work that day to allow plenty of time to pack for our trip to Florida. I checked our cars to make sure we wouldn’t leave any essential items at home and sat with my excited husband on our front porch. When our expected pick-up time passed, Josh decided that a dance in our driveway would help Kim arrive more quickly. He chanted and hopped around in front of our house, without regard for any neighbors who may have been around to observe his frivolous dancing spell. We took a few pictures to pass some time and my husband cheered when Kim pulled into our driveway. We hopped in her car and headed for the airport in joyous vacation-esce spirits.

One of our time-killing photos- takin’ pictures of tootsies until our beloved Kimberly arrived to take us on our retreat adventure!

Josh, post-Kim-arrival-spell-dance, pose in our driveway. Getting pumped up for an vacation induced evacuation of Tennesee!

Kim briefed us about our plans for our commencing getaway as we rode down Dunailie Drive, on our way to more scenic and beachy surroundings.  

Waiting with my lil’ sis at the airport...Love her to pieces. 

Boarding the Plane: This was my husband's first time flying since he was about four years old. He rubbed the exterior of our plane for good luck and we all enjoyed his child-like excitement.

Josh was so goofy at the airport that the security guard laughed as she asked me if I always claim him. He made sure to say hello to every flight attendant as part of his newly-developed, good luck/safe flight/boarding ritual.

"How does this thing work?" Josh figured out how to fasten his seat belt as he explained that it would be completely useless in the event of an engine malfunction. "This thing is kinda pointless, Gina." Still, we buckled up and I watched my husband transform into an excited four-year-old as he awaited departure.

I annoyed Josh with a Creed song: Can You Take Me Higher...He politely asked me to cease my serenading, for it threatened his enjoyment of this experience. I obliged and we both looked out at the clouds below us.

I did not exaggerate the excitement of my husband. I wish I had filmed his reaction when the pilot's voice sounded through the speakers, "Weather in Panama City is currently sunny and it's 81 degrees outside." I think I probably had an over-sized smile on my face, too.

Nashville, TN to Panama City, FL only took 45 minutes. Sure beats riding in a car for about 9 hours!

I am always excited to FLY! The incredible view outside our window captivated us. I never understand people who never glance outside when in mid-air. I don't need entertainment on a plane- I just need to be able to see outside the windows! Normally, I make sure to have a window seat. I decided to sacrifice my coveted plane position to my husband this time, however, and am thankful I did! His reaction to the ever-changing view was completely worth it!

Our plane landed safely in Panama City, Florida. We couldn't resist taking a walk on the beach even though it was already dark. The soft sand cushioned my feet as waves of foam rippled over our toes. All was well...until, mid-step, I noticed a strange, dark shape underfoot. Luckily, I did not mar the body of this little dead fishy by squishing him with my bare feet- an act that, for me, would have resulted in a foul mess and emotional freakout. R.I.P. Sparkles. Sorry we were too late to throw you back into the sea.

The sun rose over the ocean on the official first day of our much needed vacation. Our room was beautifully decorated but the view...simply breathtaking. My aunts really spoiled us on this resort retreat! They're the BEST...we totally owe them. :)

I woke Josh up early every morning. At first, he resisted this interruption of slumber and explained that vacations meant he could sleep in. I told him he could sleep when we got back home. I then opened the blinds to reveal our ocean-front view....An effective and welcoming wake-up call for any grouchy sleeper.

I did not realize how afraid of heights I was until I looked over our balcony from the 7th story of our hotel. Luckily, the beautiful view outweighed my initial apprehensions about our balcony.

A giant slide? Here's an altered perspective of our hotel- this one reminds me of scenes from Inception.

One of my favorites...Joshua, Caylee and Tracie playing in the salty waters of the Gulf of Mexico. I just love capturing moments like this!

I must confess- I did not notice the couple walking hand in hand on the in front of me. I had been trying to get decent pictures of the seagulls that had been swooping down on unsuspecting fellow sunbathers when I took this photo. I couldn't preview the pics after shooting since the sun was so bright on the beach that day, so I didn't realize what I'd captured on film until later that evening. I kept an eye out for the duration of our trip, in hopes that I would find this couple to send them a copy of this. I never found these strolling lovers but I'm glad the seagulls did. To Mr. and Mrs. Photogenic- I hope it's okay that I'm posting this picture. I really did try to find you to ask for your permission. If, on your vacation, you saw a crazy-looking camera lady in a neon bikini who was chasing birds all over the shore- this photo belongs to you. :)

Vacation Relaxation

Josh and his sunscreen were inseparable. Unfortunately, their togetherness did not prevent him from getting a sunburn on his first day at the beach. F.Y.I.: Men are babies about sunburns.

Sandy Feet = Awesome Retreat!

-Me, after a refreshing frozen lemonade was delivered to my lounge chair as sounds of crashing waves soothed any remaining stress that had been left over from my responsibility-filled grown-up world back home in Tennessee.

Yep, I'm still just as convinced now as I was then- I am destined to live near/on the beach!

"Why is she taking a picture of a lemon?" A normal question was asked by my 14-year old cousin when she noticed my out-of-the-ordinary photo-taking habits of weirdness. My sister answered her with, "She's just weird, Caylee." I am used to getting strange looks when I take pictures like this one. I'd like to see what I looked like holding that lemon up and squinting one eye shut to attempt a lemony sunset. They're right! Too bad my lemon was crooked or this would have worked better! Still, cool idea- right?

Why do I take pictures of lemons, Caylee? Why, Tracie? THIS is why. I told you so. :)

Mother & Daughter on the Beach, Building Sandcastles

Inviting chairs watch ships sail the waters...

Josh built a glorious sandcastle in front of our lounge chairs that won 1st place in our family's sandcastle build-off competition. He boasted to Tracie and Caylee about how beautiful his sand creation was constructed and seemed completely satisfied with his architectural ability.

I was supposed to help Josh build this. Instead, I observed as he, Tracie and Caylee all rushed back and forth to the ocean to wet their piles of sand. I decided I should contribute some to my husband's effort so I placed a sand star and added some seaweed & shell flair to his sandcastle mansion. I must say, we were proud ourselves when we finally finished! (He did 99% of featured castle development, but I think my decor added some syle!)

Behold! Josh's most feared and formidable vacation nemesis. Do not be fooled by her size! A cute little girl spotted his sandcastle from afar and a menacing, mischievous expression foreshadowed the inevitable destruction of Sand Castle Hodge. I giggled as an unsuspected opponent meticulously and, ever so...slowly...invaded, destroyed, and conquered Josh's beach village. He had no choice but to laugh as we all watched helplessly from underneath our umbrellas. Renee, Kim, Tracie, Caylee, and I all laughed harder than Castle Hodge's Building Foreman. This particular moment rates as one of the best on our entire trip. When the destroying and pillaging were satisfactory, the little conqueror giddily skipped down the shoreline. I assume she traveled on to other poorly-guarded sandy beach towns. No revenge was taken by Josh Hodge, for the aftermath had been far too devastating for any 25-year old man. Though she took no prisoners, Tiny Torturer left us all with a humorous story that will forever sustain her legacy.

Nee & Josh...two of my favorite people in the world. Josh is accustomed to my constant picture taking habit, but I blinded him with the flash on this one. Kinda cute when he's irritated, huh? Well, sometimes...this time is one of them. :)

Beauty from the balcony- I took more pictures on this trip than I will ever admit. I'm thankful for memory cards and hard drives that technology now affords us- There's no way I could afford film and developing for all the pictures I take!

 I love iphoto editing. This picture is provided to explain why. I'm still learning how to edit pictures and I have no idea what is "the right way" to do this. I just do what I want...and I like it that way for now.

Holiday Inn Resort in Panama City, Florida

Crystal waters of turquoise, cobalt, and emerald swirled together to provide an easy photo-op.

Palm Trees, Warm Breeze, this weather's not like like Tennessee's!

Summertime...and the livin's easy.

The tide rises, the tide falls,
The twilight darkens, the curlew calls;
Along the sea-sands damp and brown
The traveler hastens toward the town,
And the tide rises, the tide falls.

Darkness settles on roofs and walls,
But the sea, the sea in the darkness calls;
The little waves, with their soft, white hands,
Efface the footprints in the sands,
And the tide rises, the tide falls.

The morning breaks; the steeds in their stalls
Stamp and neigh, as the hostler calls;
The day returns, but nevermore
Returns the traveler to the shore,
And the tide rises, the tide falls.

"My life is like a stroll upon the beach, as near the ocean's edge as I can go."
- Henry David Thoreau

“...the sea, once it casts its spell, holds one in its net of wonder forever."
- Jacques Cousteau

"Will you get your head out of the clouds and back in the water where it belongs!"
- Sebastian, The Little Mermaid

"for whatever we lose (like a you or a me)
it's always ourselves we find in the sea"
- e. e. cummings

“I don’t believe in learning from other peoples pictures. I think you should learn from your own interior vision of things and discover, as I say, Innocently, as though there had never been anybody.”
Orson Welles

This quote best represents my beach motto. It reads,
“Never put off until tomorrow what you can do the day after tomorrow.”
Mark Twain

I turned my cell phone off. I didn’t check my work emails. I didn’t do anything on vacation but enjoy myself. My responsibilities would have to wait!

“I like nonsense, it wakes up the brain cells. Fantasy is a necessary ingredient in living.”
Dr. Seuss

This quote makes me think of my husband. He loves nonsense and is blessed with an active imagination that keeps me entertained! He burried his toes in the sand and persistently encouraged me to do the same.  His humor and positive outlook were amplified by our first beach vacation together. Dr. Seuss was right- Nonsense  wakes up the brain cells!

I don’t normally get manicures. I bite my nails. I actually have stubby little five-year-old looking fingernails…However, for this trip, my nails were pampered & polished with a shade of turquoise that I have yet to find in stores. Still searching…

All about alignment. Balcony rail against the horizon. Pretty, pretty!

I think this one is better, but still like both photo attempts of angle & line alignment.

“There is the churning and the boiling of the sea, and the foam on top of it and that is what man is, churning and foam together.
-Simone Schwarz-Bart

“We know only too well that what we are doing is nothing more than a drop in the ocean. But if the drop were not there, the ocean would be missing something.”
Mother Teresa

“The use of sea and air is common to all; neither can a title to the ocean belong to any people or private persons, forasmuch as neither nature nor public use and custom permit any possession thereof.”
Elizabeth I Queen of England, Letters

“From birth, man carries the weight of gravity on his shoulders. He is bolted to earth. But man has only to sink beneath the surface and he is free.”
― Jacques Yves Costeau

“Like as the waves make towards the pebbl’d shore, so do our minutes, hasten to their end.” –William Shakespeare

Our vacation time ticked away too quickly, but it was truly unforgettable.

We put some miles on the elevator at our hotel- I loved that we could see outside as we levitated from floor to floor.

"There is no cosmetic for beauty like happiness."  ~Lady Blessington

Too bad the view from my kitchen back home doesn’t look like this!

“There are some days when I think I'm going to die from an overdose of satisfaction.”  -Salvador Dali

Sue sells seashells by the sea shore. Oh yeah, Sue? Well…Regina rescues remnants rumbled round rolling rapids. (I think there’s a clear tongue twister champion here.) Besides, Sue sounds greedy- selling seashells for selfish profit and loitering on beaches, anyway. :)

Meet Dexter. He’s a baby alligator who will let you hold him if you pay $12.00 at Alvin’s souvenir shop. Isn’t he CUTE? I thought it was completely worth spending our money on this experience!

Here’s an unflattering picture of me, but I remember what we were talking about that caused me to make this expression. I complained to my husband that it had been my idea to hold baby Dexter, so I shouldn’t just get to hold his tail. Dexter’s handler helped Josh and I rearrange our reptilian friend so that I could get the full experience of alligator holding. Poor Dex’s mouth was clamped shut, but I’m afraid that was in our best interest! I learned that the gender of baby alligators is determined by the temperature their eggs are kept prior to hatching. Hands-on learning via vacation experience is my educational preference.

One joy scatters a hundred griefs.  ~Chinese Proverb

I stalked this bird early one morning before sunrise. I didn’t mind looking like a complete weirdo, either, since only a few people were out and about on the beach at this obscene hour. I figured this would be a perfect time to practice with my camera. The bird was an excellent model and did not startle when I approached it. Pretty bird waded in the cold morning waves of the ocean, searching for breakfast within the waves that crashed onshore. I may or may not have imagined/pretended I was a photographer for National Geographic as I took more pictures than I’d ever need of this breakfast-searchin’ Birdie.

Who doesn’t like to wade on sandy shores?

Early mornings mean empty, abandoned beach chairs are ready to pose for pictures.

Great Egret - Ardea alba

The Great Egret is a large, all white, wading bird common in South Florida. Body length to 39 inches, with a 55 inch wingspan.One of several white members of the Ardeidae (Heron) family present in Florida the Great Egret is distinguished from the white morph of the Great Blue Heron by having black legs and feet, the Snowy Egret has a black bill and yellow feet and the Reddish Egret, (white morph) which has a black tipped bill and smaller stature. Breeding individuals have long plumes on their backs.

I think that's what this beach bird is, but am not 100% sure. Help me out? Go to:

Josh and I sang this song as we waded in the water. The history behind this song can be found at:

Sandy shadows on the shoreline…

Our persistent pheasant still searches Florida’s ocean waters while awaiting my return…I can’t wait to go back to visit my little friend!  

No comments: