We finally left Orange Beach! This meant we were on our way across the Panhandle of FL. Next stop was Niceville, FL and Bluewater Bay marina. Ben’s Aunt Janet teaches in Niceville and told me to check out the marina there. It was the most accessible and affordable marina closest to their house in Santa Rosa Beach. So, we checked ourselves in for 17 days! Our plan was to spend Christmas and NYE with family and have some much needed playtime with Judah and Frankie, Ben’s cousin Sarah’s little kids. We tied our lines and bolted for shore. Janet picked us up and drove us to their house. Ben and I dumped the kids in the door and grabbed his uncle Tom’s car and drove all the way back to Orange Beach to get our car. We were exhausted but spent 5 hours in the car getting our car and driving back. Janet fed the kids and then Sarah took them to hear house to play with the kids. Sarah kept the girls until late when we finally got back.
We spent a lot of days relaxing and playing with the little kids. Janet also invited us to her school and gave the girls free reign to go through all her classroom books that she was was getting ready to give away. We cleaned up. We took so many books we won’t need a bookstore for ages!! The weather still wasn’t super warm but Janet keeps her pool nice and heated for the kids so when the sun finally came out the kids were in the water faster than you could say jump. They hadn’t swam in months and were so excited to be in a pool!
We spent Christmas Eve at Sarah and Adrian’s house. Tom and Ben’s cousin Isaac did a huge shrimp boil for dinner. It was delicious!!! Uncle Tom and Aunt Janet took over the reading of Twas the Night Before Christmas this year. Although my kids are hard and fast with traditions so we read it again in jammies back at the boat before bed.
Christmas morning arrived and Santa found the boat! The girls opened gifts and then we went to Tom and Janet’s house again. Tom made us all breakfast and then another round of gift giving began. Ben’s extended family thoroughly spoiled the girls. They (we) are so lucky to have family and surrogate family everywhere we go. We feel truly blessed.
Christmas day was the first warmish sunny day! It felt so good to sit out in the sun and watch the girls play in the pool. Isaac and Adrian took turns throwing my kids in the pool and they had a blast. The kids took turns between playing in the pool all wild and crazy with Judah and the boys, and then quiet time with Frankie.
After Christmas we gave everyone a day or two to recover and hung around the marina. The girls and I rollerbladed and scootered and swam at the marina. The girls found a resident kitty to play with. And we had multiple docktails with Jack and Patty, the local harbor hosts.
We enjoyed a rainy day glow in the dark bowling with the family followed by dinner at an awesome local fish place who catches fish fresh daily. They also used a lot of their new Christmas presents. They made charm bracelets and string bracelets and crystals!
NYE rolled around and we said goodbye to Tom, Janet, Isaac and Judah as they headed to California to visit their other son Tommy and family. We spent NYE at the marina with Jack and Patty and had a delightful time. They invited us to their boat and are the perfect hosts. We stuck around until 10 or so and wanted to get the girls back to bed.
New Year’s Day the Wilsons left Orange Beach and traveled all day in fog to get to Niceville. I kept texting Wendy warning her about how bad the fog was. It wasn’t bad when they left but kept getting progressively worse. We could hear them coming in but it was hard to see much of anything until they were close. It was a happy reunion!!! It had been since Green Turtle Bay since we had seen them.
We had a couple of play days. The middle girls worked on selling rocks and making bookmarks to sell. They played in the sand with the rope swing. And we took a trip to the marina pool again. We had a few great dinners and docktails with the marina crew. And then finally it looked like we had a window to move across the Gulf. At this point our friend Tim (who we met on day 2 of our first loop) came down to join us. The plan was he’d boat with Ben for the crossing and the girls and I would drive our car. Our last day in Bluewater Bay was spent with Ben, Jack and Patty moving our car all the way to Carabelle. And Tim arriving to the boat. We then had a big dinner with everyone as a send off. The marina had become our home for a few weeks and it’s always a little hard to get moving again!