Monday, July 28, 2014

Beach Vacation

We have always lived close to the beach. Jon even more so, being from San Diego and Virginia Beach. We kind of took it for granted that going to the beach was so easily accessible...  until moving to Memphis and being utterly landlocked. No beaches, no fresh seafood, no sandy dunes to stroll.

While there have been many great joys and blessings in making Memphis home, the stress and weariness caused by our grueling pace had worn us threadbare. We decided that it was most assuredly time to return the sea.

The nearest beaches to Memphis are on the Gulf Coast, about 8 hours away. A previously uncharted region of the world for us, we sought out recommendations from friends. Overwhelmingly, people said to the beaches in Florida along Scenic Highway 30a were the best. I'd have to say we now agree. After convincing our dear friends, the Biggers to join us, we settled on a great place in Seagrove Beach. We loaded up the cars, said goodbye to the pups, and caravanned southward.

It was more relaxing and restorative than we could have even hoped. Somehow, the sun and sand and salt and sea seemed to heal all wounds. I am still in awe of how the ocean being so big can make me and my worries feel so small.

We spent so much time just relaxing on the beach and swimming in the crystal clear waters. However, being that we are of the paler variety of human, we all began to look a bit too much like lobsters and needed to rethink our plans a bit. A few other activities that we enjoyed were leisurely reading in the shade, exploring the local towns, going on long bike rides, painting with watercolor paints, hunting for shells, eating delicious foods, and a good deal of people-watching.

One of our favorite parts of the trip was the sunset kayak tour that we took of the coastal dune lakes. While we did not take any photos for fear of ruining our cameras, here is a short video I found depicting some of the beautiful things we saw. If you ever happen to be in the South Walton area, definitely take a tour.

We had so much fun getting to know Matt and Lauren better. Plus, it's good to know we are not the only weird ones around here. :)

Nice one, Matt.

I don't think we have been this relaxed and happy in a long time. So thankful for good friends, restorative vacations, and the vast riches of the sea. Oh, and fish tacos. Can't forget those.

I will close with a poem, as it seemed to say far more than I was able.
I need the sea because it teaches me,
I don’t know if I learn music or awareness,
if it’s a single wave or its vast existence,
or only its harsh voice or its shining
suggestion of fishes and ships.
The fact is that until I fall asleep,
in some magnetic way I move in
the university of the waves.
-Pablo Neruda 

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Fourth of July Weekend

I've just not felt like updating this blog in a while, and I think that is okay. Life has been hectic and emotional the past few weeks, months, years. But oh, how refreshing the summer can be! I become a different person in the summer, as if I come out of my hibernation and really stretch for the first time. I feel like just the smell of summer in the air is enough to make me fall in love with life all over again.

It's not a secret that the 4th of July is my favorite holiday. It's not necessarily because I'm overly patriotic, but more that I love the environment surrounding the holiday. Being that it falls early on in the season when the heat is still novel and welcome, it always seems to scream that "Summer is officially here in all its glory!"

A few of my favorite things about Independence Day:
- Quality time outside with friends and family
- Many tasty burgers sizzling on the grill
- An abundance of watermelon with its juice dribbling down my chin and fingers
- The excuse to have a day off work and drink an icy beverage in the middle of the day
- Finding glorious relief from the heat in the pool or sprinklers
- The giddy, child-like excitement that washes over me when I see fireworks exploding on technicolor above my head. Every time.
- Added bonus: no pomp and fuss, no obligatory gift-giving, and no over-indulging necessary.

This year, we had the special treat of having our friend Andrew in town for the weekend. Although we are often not in the same state or country, he is one of our dearest friends. Shortly after he arrived, we went to run a 5k. The Stars and Stripes has been one of our favorite races here, so we were glad to have him join us and meet some of our closest friends in Memphis in the process. There was even an impressive fireworks display after the race. Hooray!

The 4th of July consisted of mostly relaxing by the pool and grilling our with friends. Jon and Andrew continued their bromance, I cooled my feet off, all was perfect.

They probably won't forgive me for posting those photos, but I think that it captures how silly and fun they both are, especially when around each other.

Mac even joined us...with a bit of coaxing. Perhaps even tempting him will a ball a few times. Or just throwing him in. Despite his love of mud puddles and ponds, he kind of hated the pool. Most of the time he was just trying to eat the water or climb out. Poor guy.

It felt so great to celebrate my favorite holiday with some of my best friends. They make Memphis feel more and more like home. So grateful for the Biggers and Jemisons being in Memphis! Special thanks to Frank and his parents for letting us crash their house and pool to celebrate.

Having Andrew in town was such a sweet time of reminiscing, catching up on life, sharing our current struggles, and eating a ton of good food.

Jon and I absolutely love sharing the local flavors with friends when they come to visit. We brought Andrew to two of our favorite restaurants in town, Hog and Hominy and Babalu. It left us utterly stuffed to the brim in the best way. So thankful for meaningful conversations and late nights full of laughter.

Oh July, you have been so sweet to us. Please don't hurry away too fast! This slower summer pace is absolutely delicious and I am enjoying every moment.
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