23 years later...

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We just celebrated 23 years of marriage last weekend, and we are still having so much fun adventuring together! Actually now more than ever! We used to just go for drives to nowhere on Sunday afternoons,  or pick up and go to Jacksonville spontaneously to surf on a Saturday morn. However three kids later (ages 18, 16, 13), we have to plan a bit more but still love to be a bit spontaneous and see where the road takes us at times.  Before the road took us anywhere else, Allen gifted me with this beautiful ring from Pura Vida!  He is always so very thoughtful and always looking for ways to bless me.  When he gave me this ring he said it'or two reasons: 1. I'm his favorite traveling buddy. 2. He doesn't want me to get lost anymore. Awww. Okay, anyone who knows me well knows I can absolutely get lost in a cracker jack box. No kidding! God knew I needed this man of mine for so many reasons. One is because of his innate sense of direction! Ha-ha.

 Our sweet little room for the evening. Wishing we could have loaded the bed up and brought it home!

Our sweet little room for the evening. Wishing we could have loaded the bed up and brought it home!

 Embarc Resort Sandestin

Embarc Resort Sandestin

 Our balcony view of the pool and the bay. Ahhh!

Our balcony view of the pool and the bay. Ahhh!

 This place is totally worth the little hike/bike ride. It has several little nooks set up with swings and benches to relax.

This place is totally worth the little hike/bike ride. It has several little nooks set up with swings and benches to relax.

So this week, we had scheduled a destination family shoot in Destin,  Florida and figured we would find  a way to work an anniversary adventure into it.  Oh my goodness...did we ever squeeze an adventure in!  We left about noon on Monday for our little escapade (after getting all the kids schedules squared away and making sure meals were covered,  rides were organized, etc - with help from our sweet family).  Woohoo!  Our shoot was scheduled for 6:00 pm Destin time. So we arrived about 1:30 & were blessed with an early check-in to Embarc Resort in Sandestin! Umm...all we can say is wow!!! The night before, we weren't really sure where we would stay (we had been looking online but booking just wasn't working at the time, so we waited). Once we found this property tho and realized we could use our points, it was an easy yes! It was gorgeous, quiet, relaxing, and luxurious (and did I mention super clean?)! Exactly what you would expect from a resort.  We were quite impressed with this property and would highly recommend it!  So once we got unpacked (and finished gawking over the room), we headed down to explore on the bikes that were a part of the package. We have always loved biking together so this was a great fit for us.  Although my beach cruiser was a bit tall for me (short girl challenges. Heehee), we cruised all around the property and even found some little coves tucked away on a beach with the cutest little wooden swing. I swear yall...it felt like God put it there just for us!  There wasn't a soul around as we sat there on that swing counting our blessings and amazed at where 23 years have brought us. Ahhhhhh! We just breathed it all in! The name of that refreshing cove was Jolee Island. What an adorable gem (only accessible via Sandestin tho). 

After riding around for a bit longer, we decided to stroll around at The Village of Baytowne Wharf (also in Sandestin - a fun collection of shops and restaurants on the water, along with a small zip line and carousel). And since all good bike rides deserve an ice cream, we treated ourselves to the yummiest ice cream at the Moo La La ice cream parlor. Yum!! Thank God my britches were elastic! As it turns out, 2 scoops is a LOT of ice cream! Then we went for a swim at 1 of the 2 gorgeous pools at the resort until finally, it was time to leave for our family session on the beach.  Even work feels refreshing & joyful tho when you get to work on the beach with amazing clients! We got to photograph and get to know the sweetest family from Kentucky.  It was such a joy capturing their beautiful little family! Their little boys kept us on our toes (and laughing). They were such cuties!

 We couldn't believe when we stumbled on this little side excursion on Jolee Island.  There was not a soul there!  I'm sure it's not always like that, but we took advantage of the swing that looked like it had been set up just for us to snuggle on. Hee-hee. I was just so excited to stick my toes in the sand too. This girl loves the beach!

We couldn't believe when we stumbled on this little side excursion on Jolee Island.  There was not a soul there!  I'm sure it's not always like that, but we took advantage of the swing that looked like it had been set up just for us to snuggle on. Hee-hee. I was just so excited to stick my toes in the sand too. This girl loves the beach!

Afterwards,  we were quite hungry (and it was quite late), so headed back to Baytowne Wharf for dinner. Earlier we had scoped out the restaurants and found one on the bay that worked for us both...outdoor seating,  steak, and lobster nachos! Check, check, check! Someone had blessed us with some anniversary money for a nice dinner out, so we splurged! And the name of the place? Wait for it.... Provisions! I kid you not! Allen and I thought that was so very appropriate, as we knew God had totally provided this time away for us to reminisce and celebrate our marriage! He has done that for us our entire marriage!  I am sure He knows how much we love adventure and since He is an abundant God, he provides the most epic adventures for us!  So, after filling our bellies, we snuggled up in a hammock back at the resort pool and just breathed in the fresh evening air and found such satisfaction and joy in our beautiful relationship...in the ups and the downs! After all... no storm - no rainbow! So, yes we cherish even the storms in our marriage! It has truly made our marriage what it is today!

 Our oh-so-delicious coffee from First Watch in Destin. Amazing breakfast!

Our oh-so-delicious coffee from First Watch in Destin. Amazing breakfast!

After a good night's rest (in an amazingly comfortable bed), we began work again super early - 5:00 am to be exact - so that we could be back at the beach by 6:00 am for a Maternity shoot!!! Yay!!! And not just any maternity shoot, but one for a rainbow baby! If you haven't heard of such a thing, google it. We had to as well but were delightfully surprised to understand it refers to a baby on the way after a loss.  What a beautiful expression!  Oh and to hear our client's story and also of Gods provision for them was such a sweet highlight of our trip! We were so honored to capture their joy at the new life God has placed inside of her, and we just can't wait to meet that new little girl (even tho it will probably be on social media at first).  And of course, if you make a photographer rise early to shoot, he's (or she's - haha)  gonna want a big breakfast to go with it! Yup! So we found a- delicious place to refuel... First Watch! Yum! Farm fresh food & local coffee...our kind of place! Then, of course, to top it all off,  we relaxed in the resort pool once more before checking out.  And just when we thought the adventure was coming to an end, right around the corner were a few more surprises waiting for us.

 So glad we pulled into Grayton Beach State Park to explore.  Allen  knew of this little hike off to the left side of the parking lot because of some friends of ours who had done some filming there. It was not a super long hike but felt like it due to the heat.  It was so worth it tho. This was one of the few things along the path.  Looks like a whales tail! So cool! It's off limits tho due to the sand dunes, so we just grabbed a quick photo.

So glad we pulled into Grayton Beach State Park to explore.  Allen  knew of this little hike off to the left side of the parking lot because of some friends of ours who had done some filming there. It was not a super long hike but felt like it due to the heat.  It was so worth it tho. This was one of the few things along the path.  Looks like a whales tail! So cool! It's off limits tho due to the sand dunes, so we just grabbed a quick photo.

 SEASIDE!!! Beautiful little town and beach but quite packed! Don't let this photo fool you!

SEASIDE!!! Beautiful little town and beach but quite packed! Don't let this photo fool you!

Since Allen had never been to SeaSide in Destin, we decided to venture that direction. Although it is a beautiful area, it was extremely hot and crowded, so we browsed a bit, ate a bit more ice cream, took a few photos (the beach is gorgeous) then headed for home. But not before we stepped foot in the Chapel at Seaside! Such a peaceful sanctuary.  One of the most beautiful and unexpected parts of our adventure was next on the list (even tho we had no idea).  We decided to take 30A as far as we could instead of the interstate. I wasn't quite sure about this idea since I was getting antsy and ready to get home.  You see, sometimes our excursions take us quite a bit longer than we plan. LOL.  But when Allen leads us on an adventure, it's always worth the extra time. This time was certainly no exception! 

 The Chapel at Seaside

The Chapel at Seaside

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We happened upon several breathtaking towns next. Grayton Beach, Aly's Beach (where we weren't quite sure if we had just magically transcended into Beverly Hills or some place like it) and Rosemary Beach (where we couldn't resist getting out and strolling around)!  All I can say is if you haven't been to any of those places, go now and plan your adventure. If even to just drive thru.  It will be so worth your time. Grayton Beach even has a state park, that we plan to take the family back to and camp and enjoy the gorgeous Emerald Coast Beaches (they call it this for a reason!).  Aly's Beach Town totally blew our minds. We really just couldn't believe that was even a part of Florida.  Then Rosemary beach was this gorgeous blend of Germany and Santa Barbara! Say What?! I know...that sounds crazy but you have to see it for yourself!  It's the cutest little town!

 The large building on the right is The Pearl at Rosemary Beach. Wow!!! Maybe one day, we will go back to visit and actually stay there! A girl can dream. Heehee

The large building on the right is The Pearl at Rosemary Beach. Wow!!! Maybe one day, we will go back to visit and actually stay there! A girl can dream. Heehee

 Enjoying our dinner at Provisions to celebrate our 23 years of dedication, love and laughter!  We used to sit snuggled next to each other when out to dinner, but have finally reached that age that our eyes do not focus as easily, so we have learned that sitting across from each other can be equally romantic, if we just play footsies. :-)

Enjoying our dinner at Provisions to celebrate our 23 years of dedication, love and laughter!  We used to sit snuggled next to each other when out to dinner, but have finally reached that age that our eyes do not focus as easily, so we have learned that sitting across from each other can be equally romantic, if we just play footsies. :-)

Then we finally headed for home.  All good things must come to an end. Or maybe not!  Because even tho all these places are so lovely and we had such a sweet 32 hour adventure, the bottom line is we get to come home TOGETHER! and as cheesy as it sounds...

TOGETHER IS OUR FAVORITE PLACE TO BE!

Through the trials, the storms, the crazy adventures that usually include side-roads we had not intended on (and sometimes a few frustrations due to the spontaneity at times), we know we are so crazy blessed to come home to each other and have this kind of love and marriage.  It's hard work but worth it every single day!  So press on, fellow spouses! Press on and enjoy the crazy adventures together! And thank you, Allen for the 23 years of adventure! I love you more every day!

Enjoy the journey!

Allen & Carol