Gulf Coast Girl

We just got back from Seaside, Florida.  We wanted to take the boys somewhere fun for summer vacation, but we’re still limited on where we can go since Colman hasn’t been cleared to fly and he can’t stay somewhere that’s higher than five thousand feet in elevation.  So a couple of months ago when Kevin and I were discussing summer plans, I said, “Why don’t we take a road trip to Florida?”

Then Kevin rolled his eyes and asked me, “Have you lost your mind?”

That’s not out of the realm of possibility.

I remember road trips being a blast when I was a kid. However, my parents have completely different memories of those same vacations. One of my particular favorites was an impromptu vacation one summer to Colorado with my Aunt Robbie and her three boys in a Winnebago she’d borrowed from a friend. We had so much fun hanging out with our cousins. I saw my first shooting star in Ouray, Colorado. And we all played games, ate junk food from gas stations and laughed our heads off as our parents fretted about whether we’d make it to the top of Pikes Peak in that behemoth vehicle.

In talking to my mom about that trip years later, she said, “Oh, my God! Don’t you remember how we got a flat tire and the sewer line on the Winnebago kept backing up? We had to drive with all the windows down because of the smell, which wasn’t so bad in Colorado, but we all about burned up in Texas.”

If I dig deep into my memory, I do remember my dad cursing under his breath and us having to stop at auto parts stores quite often.

Anyway, I was finally able to convince Kevin since Seaside, Florida is only a twelve-hour drive with the added bonus of spending a night in New Orleans to break up the driving. We loaded up the kids and Rowan grabbed his monkey, George, and we were off.


We made it to New Orleans in a little under eight hours, checked into our hotel, and set out to explore the French Quarter. Colman was super excited to see the French Quarter. He always buys it when he plays Monopoly and he wasn’t disappointed. We went to an early dinner and then took the boys to Cafe Du Monde for beignets. They weren’t all that impressed with beignets, but Rowan loved the powdered sugar as evidenced in the picture below. Yes, that’s powdered sugar on the tip of his nose.


We made it to Seaside the next day and for five days in a row, we woke up late, ate breakfast and then walked out to the beach to do this…


And this…


Rowan is a maniac on a body board and in the water in general, which almost caused my heart to stop on several occasions, but I managed to soldier on.

Then on day six, Kevin woke up with a particularly violent case of food poisoning. We’d gone to lunch the previous day and he said, “I think I’m going to order some oysters on the half shell. Will you help me eat them?”

I really love raw oysters. Especially the little, tiny, briny ones that you can get here in San Antonio at The Sandbar restaurant. They’re from places like Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island and they’re delicious. But I said, “Honey, I don’t think that’s such a good idea. Gulf oysters are not in season right now,” which prompted a discussion of how I know they’re not in season. I grew up in South Texas on the Gulf Coast?

I have all sorts of good information about random stuff, but Kevin’s always skeptical. Like the time we went to Puerta Vallarta, Mexico for a week when we were dating. I steered clear of salads, tap water, ice and brushed my teeth with bottled water. He teased me about it until the fourth day of our trip when he was stricken with a case of amoebic dysentery so bad that I called my mom at 4:00 a.m. to ask her whether I should take my boyfriend to a Mexican hospital. That’s when I knew it was true love. Had I been with anybody else, I’d have hopped on the first plane back to the States thinking, Good luck with that.  The first thing my mom said to me was, “Didn’t you tell him that it’s not okay to drink the water in Mexico?”

Kevin didn’t believe me that Texas had alligators either until we went to a birthday party for Judge Henry Schuble at his ranch in McCoy and he saw some with his own eyes.

Armadillos carry leprosy. That’s a fact. Kevin finally admitted to that one after we did a google search, but insists you’d probably have to damn-near french kiss one to get it. I disagree. I think you can probably contract leprosy from an armadillo by hitting one with your car.

(I’m sure the truth is somewhere in the middle.)

(And now I can’t help but think about that awful red velvet groom’s cake with gray icing from the movie, Steel Magnolias, that was in the shape of an armadillo.)

Here’s an interesting fact about how to tell the difference between a king snake and a coral snake. Red touches black, friend of Jack; red touches yellow, kill a fellow.

So I dug into my veritable well of weird knowledge and I explained that a good rule of thumb I’d always heard is if there’s not an “R” in the month, then you should probably steer clear. The Gulf is too warm during the summer months for good oysters.

In perfect lawyer fashion, Kevin reasoned that the restaurant wouldn’t have them on the menu if they make people sick. Right?

I started doubting myself. Maybe that rule only applies to Texas Gulf oysters. Maybe Florida Gulf oysters are different. And these particular oysters were from a region of Florida called Apalachicola Bay and that sounds kind of cold.

My credibility might be better, too, if I wasn’t always following up all my warnings to the kids and Kevin with some sort of dire consequence, such as, “Rowan, don’t slam doors. You’re going to lose a finger!” Or, “Colman, do not use the back of the sofa as a balance beam. You’re going to fall and crack your head open like an egg!” Or, “Liam, do not point that BB gun at your brother. You’re going to shoot his eye out!” I do this all the time. I can’t help it. I feel like these boys don’t have the ability to think through what the consequences of their actions are sometimes. I just want them to think.

So Kevin ordered the oysters against my advice and gobbled down about eight of the plump, bloated things–I shudder just thinking about them–and woke up the next day really sick.

One good thing about the food poisoning is it was really quick. Kevin had a terrible four hours, but he was pretty much recuperated by the next day and we were able to pick up where we left off as far as sleeping late and going to the beach. And he asked me, “What do you think made me so sick?”

“The oysters.”

“Why do you automatically assume it was the oysters?” he asked me.

“Because it was the oysters.”

“How could you let me eat those?”

(Excuse me while I go beat my head against the wall.)

“I told you. I did. You were the one who thought it was a good idea to eat out-of-season Gulf oysters at a restaurant called Stinky’s.”

Really, I think this is all an unfortunate consequence of Kevin being from Missouri, the Show-Me State.

Kevin and I decided to leave Florida on Friday night and drive all night back to San Antonio rather than wake the kids up early to leave on Saturday. I was starting to regret our decision about 12:30 a.m. early Saturday morning when we finally hit Beaumont. I’d like to thank Ricky Skaggs, Eddie Rabbit, Ronnie Milsap, Alabama, Brooks & Dunn, Randy Travis, George Strait and Steve Wariner courtesy of XM Channel 58, which I just discovered plays Prime Country from the ’80s and ’90s. I knew every single word of the five thousand songs they played and I was singing along loudly. I was waiting for Kevin to be impressed, but, sadly, I think all he wanted to do was take something sharp and stab his ear drums. Seriously, I think I could’ve won a karaoke contest. I was killing it. It’s almost as if I were from a small town in South Texas or something. 🙂

All in all, Kevin and I had fun. The boys enjoyed the trip, too. A year ago today, I was bringing Colman home from Houston after he went into heart failure last summer. I remember asking Dr. Rogers about whether he thought Colman would be able to start third grade on time and he said, “We’ll see. I’d be surprised if you can keep him out of the hospital for thirty days at this point.”

It’s been a tough year with lots of tests, medicine, doctors visits–here and in Houston–and a heart cath, but we’ve avoided lengthy hospital stays and, for that, I’m grateful. Colman has been doing really well the last three weeks and Kevin and I have noticed a surge in his energy. I’m hoping it lasts a while. In light of how good he’s been feeling, we’ve put off the transplant evaluation in Houston for now. We’re going to see an endocrinologist to rule out any sort of growth problem, which nobody thinks he has, and he will be undergoing some tests to check his liver and kidney function.


7 thoughts on “Gulf Coast Girl

  1. So happy your family had fun on vacation. That Colorado trip was fun for me also! The company was what made the trip so special and we had Uncle Gene to fix the problems with the motor home! It was a Chevy Chase Road Trip!❤💗💕Love, Aunt Robbie

  2. Glad you guys had fun! We just had the discussion with the kids about when you shouldn’t have oysters. Personally, I don’t think I’ll ever knowingly eat oysters from the Gulf of Mexico. Show Kevin a map of water temperatures around the world in July-August. I’ll bet the Gulf is among the warmest.

    Sorry Coleman is limited where he can go right now, because you guys are in prime road trip years. It was stressful, but we had some of our best trips with our kids on road trips. And now the technology is so much better with kid-occupying technology!

    John has great stories about trips in station wagons with his family of 7. They all involve his mom making gin and tonics in the front passenger seat for Jack and herself as they got close to their destination!

  3. Dear CHM, So enjoy your tales! Glad Coleman is having a good summer. Sounds like lots of memories were made on your trip.I’m totally off oysters, as much as I love them. Had to go to the ER after eating them in New Orleans of all places(and yes it was an r month). Enjoy this last bit of summer,Dodie

    Date: Mon, 5 Aug 2013 15:41:54 +0000 To:

  4. Heather, I love your vacation story! Everyone had a good time! You are right, Kevin is from,the SHOW ME STATE!!!! Love, Delores

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