The Emerald Coast and the Side of US Hwy 98

Back from vacation. The “Emerald Coast” of Florida is indeed beautiful — the water was gorgeous, the sand was white, the weather — hot, but all in all it was perfect for a late summer vacation. The condo mom and dad rented was great. It was right on the beach, had a pool, and was pretty reasonably priced compared to other condos I looked at.

The boys had a great time. Brandon swam like a shark (his term) and his cousin James swam like a possum (his term). I’ve never seen a possum swim; maybe they’re pretty good swimmers. Matthew ate large quantities of sand and got quite a nice tan. I came back with a sunburn on a small portion of my back — the place where I didn’t slather on sunscreen because I couldn’t reach it and the kids were running all over the place and I didn’t have time to ask anyone to help me protect my blindingly white skin. And since I couldn’t reach that spot in the first place, it was unreachable when it started itching a few days later from the burn. Now it’s peeling, and peeling a lot for such a small area. Anyway, I should be thankful that I didn’t have a larger burn.

We saw many sights including the ocean, hurricane damage, outlet shopping, restaurants, and the service department of Ft. Walton Beach Volvo. You see, as we were leaving to head home, a warning light came on in my car (just 30 minutes into our trip). It gave the inconclusive statement “Performance Reduced” and a little orange warning light came on. I had noticed the car driving funny for a couple of days and now had proof — “performance reduced.” But what did that mean? I called Chris. He was in session, and I didn’t want to disturb him right off the bat, and besides, I’m a grown up now and I can figure this problem out. So I called my dad. He didn’t have an answer for the “performance reduced” message, but just knowing I could call him and that I wasn’t too far away made me feel better.

Then I called our Volvo service department and talked to a service guy. He said that it wouldn’t hurt to drive the car with the “performance reduced” message showing. I’m glad I didn’t end the conversation there. I said that I had about 800 miles to go and would I end up on the side of the road if I continued on driving with the “performance reduced” message? He said he didn’t know, there were many things that could cause that message. So I decided to turn around and take the car to the local Volvo guy and have him look at it. And good thing, too, because as I was driving it to the service department, the car died. Luckily, Dad was with me and sat with me by the dead Volvo for more than 2 hours while we waited for the tow truck. The tow truck guy said this happens to people on vacation all the time — he was on his way to get a BMW after our car. So much for foreign luxury vehicles on vacation.

The “performance reduced” message turned out to be some sort of electrical thing that I don’t understand, but the guys at the Ft. Walton Volvo service had it fixed by noon the next day. We drove home without a problem. (Well, car problem anyway. Traveling with a two year old is always a problem.)

On the way home, we spent the night in Birmingham, where Matthew kept us entertained. Once inside the hotel room, Matthew went wild. He got this crazed smile on his face and ran from the phone to the door to the bed. Phone. Door. Bed. Phone. Door. Bed. PhoneDoorBed. PHONEDOORBED! He got faster and faster and started cackling like some lunatic baby on speed. I abandoned hopes of getting a shower and made us all go to bed. When I turned out the lights, it was like I turned off the baby. He went right to sleep and slept until 7:30 the next morning.

For vacation pictures, check out the flickr badge to the right.

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