Virtual Vacation with Tons of Videos!

Remember when people used to return from vacation and have every single second captured on film and put on slides?

And then remember when someone would make you sit down and watch every single slide they took on their vacation?

Hopefully this won’t be like that.

Instead, what you’re about to see is nearly 30 movies and a ton of photos we took from our first week-long family vacation in over five years.

And we tried to only take movies of the fun stuff.

So here’s how we spent our summer vacation in Pensacola, Florida:

Saturday was a long day. I woke up early to start packing the van and the new roof-top cargo carrier we finally had to break down and buy. Our family has gotten too big and I think Lily needed as much stuff as all the boys combined. Here I am attempting to close the cargo carrier:
I actually ended up having to unpack the cargo carrier and repacking it because the baby seat we had hoped to bring simply wouldn’t fit:
It was a very long drive to Pensacola, and we passed the time blaring U2 music for most of the trip. The boys were excited to be on the road:
And Jennifer was more excited than she looks in this photo:
We stopped in LaGrange, Georgia for some drive-thru coffee:
And we finally arrived in Pensacola, Florida after almost seven hours of traveling (with far too many stops):
Jennifer’s enthusiasm was now much more evident:
We checked into our condo at the Portofino resort, which is a fairly new place in Pensacola and was a LOT nicer than we expected. Here is everyone standing outside the door to our condo right before we opened the door for the first time:
So what was the place like? Here are our boys to tell you first hand:

And here’s Jennifer’s reaction:

After getting somewhat settled, we were all very hungry and headed to PegLeg Pete’s for dinner:
It was at PegLeg Pete’s that I, as the sole driver that day, finally got my reward:
After PegLeg Pete’s, Jennifer dropped off me, Sam, Walt, Tom, and Lily so Sam and Walt could go jump in the ocean before it got too dark. Here we are at sunset as the boys played on the beach for the first time this trip:

After the swim at the beach and a very long day traveling, we were all pretty tuckered out for the night.

IMG_2125Sunday morning was our first chance to just lounge about on the balcony. It’s amazing how good coffee tastes early in the morning while sitting on a balcony overlooking the ocean. The only thing better is later in the day, drinking a beer while sitting on a balcony overlooking the ocean.

After taking it easy for a couple hours in the morning, we got ready to go to Mass and thoroughly enjoyed being a part of the community at Our Lady of the Assumption in Pensacola. One thing I noticed is that in that packed Church that morning, that most of the people were on vacation. That meant they were at Church because they WANTED to be at Church, and not out of some self-made obligation. There was a true sense of the Holy Spirit there that morning.

Another cool thing is that after Mass, a missionary from FOCUS (Fellowship of Catholic University Students) got up to speak. Afterward, we talked to him a bit and we’re actually planning on having him on our show in a couple weeks to talk about the good work that FOCUS is doing at universities around the United States.

After Mass we went out for some Mexican food:

And then, after lunch, we made a trip to a store that I’d been dreading. With a family our size, it is inevitable that we’d end up at Wal-Mart, stocking up the fridge for our vacation. When my dad saw this, he thought I was giving a sincere endorsement of Wal-Mart. My mom immediately detected my sarcasm:

After getting groceries, we FINALLY made our way to the main pool at Portofino (there were 8 pools total at the resort). Here we are hanging out at the pool, where we spent a LOT of hours during our vacation:

We also stopped and bought a new set of adult goggles and a snorkel so we could explore under the sea a bit more closely. Here I am trying out the new gear:

Monday was one of our best – and longest – days at the beach.

Using a portable cabana we borrowed from my folks, we headed to the beach and set up camp. On past vacations, we never lasted more than a couple hours before having to head inside because of the children. But with the cabana, we were out there for a good five hours.

Here’s the view of the Cabana:

And I couldn’t resist the temptation to record a video for our co-workers up in New York:

And every time we went to the beach, Lily eventually passed out (the orientation is goofy on this one…sorry about that):

Perhaps the most surprising thing we found on the beach on Monday were these things stuck in the sand:

Tuesday morning started with heavy thunderstorms, so we figured we’d go for one of our planned indoor activity outings. Of course, as soon as we decided this, the weather turned nice again. Nevertheless, we decided to head out to the US Air Museum in Pensacola, which is always outstanding. On the way there, Jennifer started quizzing all of us as to whether she should get a manicure while on vacation. The conversation was like this:

Once we got to the Air Museum, the boys made a bee-line for the Blue Angels cockpits that they could climb into. These are authentic cockpits from decommissioned planes, so it’s always exciting for them. Here are all four boys taking turns:

And what trip to a museum is complete without a trip to the gift shop? What’d the boys get?

The rest of the day was spent at the pool, but instead of going to the big pool for the whole complex, Jennifer and the boys hung out at the pool for our building, which we could see from the balcony. If you look closely, you can see them waving:

Around dinner, a really serious (but cool) looking storm rolled in and we hung out on the balcony as long as we could watching it roll in:

And just when we thought we’d seen the worst of the clouds, they really picked up:

Wednesday started with some one-on-one time for Walt and Jennifer, who rented a couple of bikes to see some of Pensacola on two wheels. Jennifer gives a tour from her handlebars:

As they were arriving back, Jennifer called me and asked me to take a video from the balcony. Again, they look like ants. Objects in this video are much closer than they appear:

After the bike ride, Jennifer and Walt hitched a ride on the shuttle bus. This video gives you an idea of what the Portofino complex was like:

Up to this point of the trip, we didn’t have anywhere to put Lily, so Jennifer and I were pretty much holding her for four days straight. We found out about a nearby place that rents baby equipment, so we rented an exersaucer for $5 a day. It was totally worth it and Lily obviously enjoyed it, as well:

Later on Wednesday night we went to a bargain theater that was showing Pixar’s UP for just $2 a person. All of us had seen it except for Jennifer and Tommy, and I think it was even better the second time around.

Afterward we got Krispy Kreme donuts. We shouldn’t have, but the HOT light was on in the window and we were drawn to it like moths. And we were on vacation. Give us a break.

On Thursday we took advantage of the good rate that the resort offered for a Dolphin Cruise. Unfortunately, it took us almost two hours before we saw dolphins, but once we did it was pretty exciting.

Here we are heading out on the boat:

Here we are finding dolphins:

And on the way back, the boat captain let some of the boys take turns at the helm. They were very excited:

After the dolphin cruise we headed back to Pegleg Pete’s for lunch, but it was way too noisy for me. I barely made it out of there with my sanity intact. But that’s not saying much.

While we waited for our table, I attempted to teach the boys some basics of playing pool:

On our last full day at Pensacola, we came across an injured bird, who of course drew the curiosity of our boys. Walt spent almost half an hour just sitting near the bird, talking to it and looking at it. After a couple of hours, the bird suddenly stood up and flew away, just like that.

Also on Friday, we set up the cabana one last time and spent a few hours at the beach. Unfortunately, another sudden storm blew in and we had to head for shelter, bringing an end to our time on the beach. But fortunately, before the storm blew in, Lily and I were able to catch another quick nap on the beach:

And that was pretty much it. On Saturday morning, we packed up and headed home.

Considering that we hadn’t been on a week-long family vacation in so long, we couldn’t have been more pleased and I think it did all of us a lot of good to get away and do something so drastically different for a change. Hopefully it won’t be another five years before the next trip!

Here are some more random shots from our trip, as well:

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