Friday, August 5, 2016


Happy Monday! A couple weeks ago we went on a family vacation with some of our best friends to Gulf Shores, Alabama. We planned this trip back when Kristin was expecting, knowing we'd have four little guys in tow when the day finally came. We always LOVE to vacation with the Van Bakel family thus we've started somewhat of an annual tradition because our time together always goes so well. Our interests are similar, the kids get along well, we don't get to see each other often due to proximity and busy schedules so a few days away annually is perfect! 
This year we came up with our own hashtag, #VanBakersVacay, because we think it'll be so neat to go back through these pictures as the years go on. Andrew and Kristin had previously vacationed in Gulf Shores so they knew all the best places to visit and eat. 
Like always, I took way too many pictures so we'll let them do most the talking.
We drove down to my parents Saturday and then flew out early Sunday morning {like leave the house at 5am early}.
They had both only flown one other time so they couldn't wait to get on the plane.
We had a layover in Houston, had a nice breakfast and then landed in Florida by noon.
Once in Florida, we got in our rental car - which was ironically a 4-Runner, very similar to our own so we felt right at home, and then drove to Gulf Shores to meet up with the VanBakels for lunch. After lunch, we drove to our condos and got settled in. 

It didn't take long and we were all headed to the beach, basically right out our backdoor.
Us parents had some catchung up to do!

Andrew and Tyler have been besties since grade school.  They have such a cool bond.
Kristin and I have been friends since college. We really don't talk much throughout the year because we're both so busy but we think of each other often. It's always so easy to pick up where we left off.
One of the biggest perks of the trip was getting to know the newest member of their fam bam, baby George.  Seriously, the cutest!
The boys {Tyler included} had a great time playing in the sand.
This was the little cowboy's first time to see the ocean.
Day 1 was a success!
We got cleaned up and then dressed the boys in their matching pajamas.  Kristin shares the love of matching her kids like I do.  Leading up to the trip we had a lot of fun picking up some matching pieces for the all the VanBaker boys.
Our boys and Henry are pretty much like us adults and quickly connected like we're together all the time.  Henry stayed the night in our condo most nights. I hope I'm always his "princess Kelley!" :)
Day 2: a Full Beach Day!

We rented cabanas for the first two days. It was paradise.
and thank you for whomever dug this BIG hole prior to our first beach day.  The boys had a blast.
Kristin and I loved relaxing and people watching.
King Keeler soaking up the sun!
Kallahan LOVED the waves.
After the beach we went and spent time in the pool and then ordered in pizza.
Day 3 we spent another morning on the beach.
We all sported our "No one Likes a Shady Beach" shirts.
Then we ventured into town for a late lunch.  We spotted this sign and had to grab a picture because this is one of Kallahan's many nicknames.
Our beach boys crashed about anytime we got in the car and drove into town.  Obviously the fun in the sun wore them out.
We ate at The Original Oyster House - the men claimed their garlic Parmesan oysters were amazing! Then we did a little souvenir shopping. 
In the evening we went back to the beach - we took our obligatory selfie...
and the boys enjoyed more sand play.

Day 4 we headed to the outlet mall.  The boys were pretty good sports and lasted until noon and then we headed to Lambert's for lunch. 
Lambert's was my favorite meal.  The experience was great! They are famous for their "throwed rolls!"  Keeler had a blast catching them and their generous portions of "pass arounds" at no charge was unbelievable - all you can eat fried okra, fried potatoes, macaroni and tomatoes, black eyed peas, and sorghum and honey. 

We left with VERY full tummies and VERY full to-go boxes which made for the perfect dinner that evening.
When we got back to the condo I had to wear one of my new swimsuits I had picked up the TJ Maxx Outlet.  Yes, a TJ Maxx Outlet - I was in heaven.  We ended the day trying out the indoor pool but then quickly went back to our beloved outdoor pool.
Day 5 we rode a ferry to Dauphin Island. This was a first ferry ride for all of us!

Watching the process was pretty exciting {but hot!}.
Once we reached the island we headed to The Light House Bakery for the world's best lemonade!  We were sad they were out of pastries but our waistlines were thankful. 
 Then we ventured to the Dauphin Island Sea Lab Estuarium.

 We had a great time here- lots of educational information mixed with hands on activities for the kids. The boys thought the sting ray touch pool was the coolest.
Before leaving the island, we had another delicious seafood meal {Keeler got his crab legs} and then stopped for snow cones. 

In the evening our family ventured off to The Track Family Recreation Center: home of the three-story wooden go-kart track. It was pretty hot and humid but we all had a blast! Our family always loves a good go-kart race :)
On our final full day we started the morning off with a birthday breakfast for Keeler. We didn't have candles so I improvised with a straw.  I think he was less than impressed ;) 
Then we were off for our final day at the beach, matching of course.
We had promised Keeler a birthday jet ski ride but unfortunately they were not running due to a storm approaching.
Regardless, we had fun playing puppies in the sand.
We enjoyed one last meal out for some more great seafood.
After dinner pose with the boats.  We're thinking maybe next time the VanBakers will rent a boat?  There was talk - Tyler's volunteered to be our captain.  Regardless of what or where we go, we know it'll be a blast!
Like they say, all good things must come to an end... but why?! We'll forever cherish the wonderful memories from #vanbakersvacay 2016. Thanks for organizing Kristin and Andrew. We L❤️VED it & we love y'all!
Later Gator... stay tuned for an entire post to document our adventurous trip back home.
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1 comment:

  1. Loved the pictures! Looked like everyone had a wonderful time. Sheri