Summer Vacation 2018

This summer's family vacation started the same way many do.

With a tearful "see you soon" to Brisket and a speeding ticket in Louisiana.

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The last 200 miles took about 6 hours so the kids burned off some energy as soon as we put the car in Park. (Fat lotta help they were with the luggage.)

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 Us grownups were happy to just sit.

Us grownups were happy to just sit.

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 Beach!

Beach!

 Jennifer figured me out this time around. She wanted nothing to do to with E-E (Aunt Anne) and her annoying camera so no Jen-Jen smiles from this trip, but lots of curious looks. Next time I'll win her back over.

Jennifer figured me out this time around. She wanted nothing to do to with E-E (Aunt Anne) and her annoying camera so no Jen-Jen smiles from this trip, but lots of curious looks. Next time I'll win her back over.

 Every good beach trip needs some good downtime to balance out the sand and sun.

Every good beach trip needs some good downtime to balance out the sand and sun.

 Jen-Jen sure loves her Poppa.

Jen-Jen sure loves her Poppa.

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 And her Gigi! <3

And her Gigi! <3

 Aunt Kristi turned the big 4-0 during our time together -- and she has great taste in cake! Among many other things.  We wish her the happiest year ahead!

Aunt Kristi turned the big 4-0 during our time together -- and she has great taste in cake! Among many other things.

We wish her the happiest year ahead!

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 Joshua wasn't up for family photos this night -- but we got a couple of him a few days later!

Joshua wasn't up for family photos this night -- but we got a couple of him a few days later!

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 Jen-Jen called both Michael and Henry "Baby" on the first day we were together. To tell them apart, Michael became "Baby Mi-Mi" and he quickly became one of her favorites.

Jen-Jen called both Michael and Henry "Baby" on the first day we were together. To tell them apart, Michael became "Baby Mi-Mi" and he quickly became one of her favorites.

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 Kristi and I took time out one morning to take the kiddos to The Factory while the boys played golf.

Kristi and I took time out one morning to take the kiddos to The Factory while the boys played golf.

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 Girl enough to want to wear mascara. Tomboy enough to not give a crap when it's smeared on her face.

Girl enough to want to wear mascara. Tomboy enough to not give a crap when it's smeared on her face.

 One of Jennifer's MOs is to find anyone who will walk with her the direction she wants to go.  Uncle Wes was a very willing sucker. (So was I, not pictured.)

One of Jennifer's MOs is to find anyone who will walk with her the direction she wants to go.

Uncle Wes was a very willing sucker. (So was I, not pictured.)

 A little early this year, the jellyfish came to swim along Gulf Shores. They didn't know what accomplished jellyfish hunters would be there to greet them though.

A little early this year, the jellyfish came to swim along Gulf Shores. They didn't know what accomplished jellyfish hunters would be there to greet them though.

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 The ocean is Joshua's happy place.

The ocean is Joshua's happy place.

 Jellyfish hunters in action.

Jellyfish hunters in action.

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 Family picture day, take two!

Family picture day, take two!

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 I want to go this way. No, I want to go this way.  Who's in charge here?

I want to go this way. No, I want to go this way.

Who's in charge here?

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 Bye-byes to the beach! We can't wait to see everyone again.

Bye-byes to the beach! We can't wait to see everyone again.

We decided to break up the drive home so Saturday morning, we got up early to be among the first aboard the USS Alabama in Mobile.

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 It was a hot day, but we were so grateful to have the ship nearly to ourselves for the first hour. Between the machine guns, giant chains, cannons, narrow passageways and getting a glimpse into what life would have been like on a real battleship during wartime, it was hard for us to decide what we enjoyed learning about the most.

It was a hot day, but we were so grateful to have the ship nearly to ourselves for the first hour. Between the machine guns, giant chains, cannons, narrow passageways and getting a glimpse into what life would have been like on a real battleship during wartime, it was hard for us to decide what we enjoyed learning about the most.

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After visiting the airplane hangar (and the gift shop), we hit the road toward New Orleans.

 Dropping our bags with the hotel, we walked over to Royal House for the first of two great NOLA meals.

Dropping our bags with the hotel, we walked over to Royal House for the first of two great NOLA meals.

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 After a failed attempt to tour St. Louis Cemetery No. 1 in the blistering heat, we defaulted to Jackson Square where we found the nicest caricature artist ever.

After a failed attempt to tour St. Louis Cemetery No. 1 in the blistering heat, we defaulted to Jackson Square where we found the nicest caricature artist ever.

 Then we hopped on a horse (mule)-drawn carriage ride around the French Quarter...

Then we hopped on a horse (mule)-drawn carriage ride around the French Quarter...

 ...with Bob and Big Freida, the mule.

...with Bob and Big Freida, the mule.

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 After a short respite at the hotel, we took our sweaty, under-dressed kids to one of the nicest restaurants in the Quarter. They didn't get us kicked out, which was great.

After a short respite at the hotel, we took our sweaty, under-dressed kids to one of the nicest restaurants in the Quarter. They didn't get us kicked out, which was great.

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 To really wear the kids out, we bought seats for the 8 p.m. show at Preservation Hall. It was authentic, crowded, steamy hot and completely amazing. We were inches away from the eight-piece accomplished jazz band but were not allowed to take photos of the performance.  Somehow, Henry conked out in my lap and I carried him back to our hotel through the revelers on Bourbon Street in the rain. I was pretty grateful for everyone aiming their bodily fluids away from the kid, and I'm pretty sure they were confused about why kids were there in the first place.

To really wear the kids out, we bought seats for the 8 p.m. show at Preservation Hall. It was authentic, crowded, steamy hot and completely amazing. We were inches away from the eight-piece accomplished jazz band but were not allowed to take photos of the performance.

Somehow, Henry conked out in my lap and I carried him back to our hotel through the revelers on Bourbon Street in the rain. I was pretty grateful for everyone aiming their bodily fluids away from the kid, and I'm pretty sure they were confused about why kids were there in the first place.

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NOLA, we can't wait to go back.