Last week there was a convergence of Gimmarro’s in Gulf Shores, Alabama. Tom’s cousin, Andrea, along with her daughters Emily and Caroline and her niece Olivia came from Georgia. His Aunt Vesta and the majority of her family – Tom’s cousins Patti and Staci, their husbands Mark and Doug, and a bunch of the kids – Mike, Zach, Maria, Alyssa, Makenna, Evan, Austin and Brooke – all came from Missouri. We were the Michigan representatives.
Even though we didn’t end up staying there for the week, we still wanted to spend some time with the family, so on Monday we got up bright and early and made the drive from Panama City Beach to Gulf Shores. According to google maps, it was just 113 miles, but was going to take us 3 hours to get there. I was skeptical, and couldn’t really understand how it could take that long . . . but it did! We didn’t have too much traffic, but there are lots of little towns along the coast . . . so lots of 35 and 45 mph zones!
We arrived a little before 11am, and they were just finishing up breakfast. Once everybody had eaten and gotten dressed, we headed across the street to the beach.
It was a warm day, but there were a few ominous-looking clouds out over the ocean.
The radar on our phones was showing it staying it out over the ocean, so we didn’t let it bother us.
The older kids were throwing a football around,
while the younger ones played in the sand.
The water called to us, though, and eventually everybody was in the water.
While we enjoyed the beach, thunder continued to rumble in the distance, and the clouds appeared to be getting closer.
We kept checking the radar, and it looked like we were not going to be able to escape the storm afterall. When lightning was spotted, it was time to vacate the water!
Playing it safe, we packed up all of our stuff and headed back to the house, getting back there just before the downpour. We ate lunch while it rained, and then when it stopped the kids went in the pool for awhile.
Eventually, the sun came back out, and we decided to try the beach again.
After the little storm we had, the surf was bigger . . . and more fun!
The little kids were having a blast on their boogie boards,
while we just tried to keep the waves from knocking us down!
Playing in the water and the sand,
while the big kids moved their volleyball game from the water,
to the sand court.
I think Bryce’s team lost!
I can’t remember what he did, but it must have been an easy shot if the spectator response is any indication!
After everyone had their fill of sun, sand and water,
it was time to head back to the house where everybody cleaned up to get ready for the rib dinner that Mike had prepared for everyone. He’d been grilling the ribs all day, and they sure smelled good!
The kids waited patiently until it was time to eat.
Then we ate . . . and ate . . . and ate! There was plenty to go around, and it was all delicious!
We spent the evening just hanging out and catching up, while the teens played a crazy card game,
and strategized on where next summer’s “Senior Trip +1” should be.
Two of “The Triplets” – Bryce and Maria – will be graduating high school next summer, although Caroline, who’s only 4 days younger than Bryce, has an additional year to go because Georgia has a different cutoff date for starting Kindergarten than Michigan does.
We’re thinking that the west coast of Michigan will be a nice spot for the family gathering!
It was getting late, and we had a 3-hour drive home, so we broke up the card game and got a few pictures before we left (although somehow getting those few pictures took an hour!!).
A nice group of cousins!
OK, we’ll let Mike get in there, too!
It was especially nice that our two active-duty military guys were able to join the family for this trip – Nicolas from Charleston, where he’s in the Navy Nuclear Power School, and Mike from Oklahoma City, where he’s stationed with the Air Force.
One more . . . before we could leave, Bryce and Caroline wanted to re-create that infamous photo from their childhood (the first time they met, that they couldn’t quite remember!)
I think they did pretty good!
OK, we finally got going at 11pm, and made it back to Camp Helen by 1:30 . . . not too bad, but it was a long drive!
It was worth it, though . . . we had a great time catching up with family again, and we’re glad we ended up in the area! Looking forward to next year!