Well, we survived our first holiday away from family. It was a little bittersweet waking up on Sunday morning knowing we wouldn’t be joining my family for Easter lunch at my aunt and uncle’s house but we still had a really fun day together. Facetiming with our families in both Jacksonville and Georgia definitely helped us feel a little less homesick.
Last year Emme was a newborn on Easter so the Easter Bunny (aka Adam dressed in a bunny costume borrowed from Nana) made a house call and sweet little 12-day-old Emme peacefully slept in his arms. This year we visited the Easter Bunny at the mall and Emme was stereotypically terrified.
As I watched the mom before us force her toddler to sit with the Easter Bunny despite screaming crying and running away, I vowed to spare Emme the torture. (That’s where nightmares come from, parents!) When it was our turn, I sat Emme on the Easter Bunny’s lap and she immediately started crying. They quickly snapped a couple of photos and I grabbed her keeping the trauma to a minimum. They also took a shot of the three of us. When it came time to choose which photo I wanted printed I had a hard time deciding between a crying or family shot and I certainly didn’t want to pay for both. Luckily though I managed to sweet talk the photographer into giving me both shots for the price of one. Yay!
I thoughtfully collected items for Emme’s Easter basket. At first I had zero ideas of what to put in the basket since candy obviously wasn’t a good option. But then the ideas started flowing and I had to tell myself to quit buying things. I stuffed her basket with bubbles and egg shaped sidewalk chalk from the dollar store, Crayola palm grip crayons, a touch and feel book (her favorites!), a puzzle, super cute dinosaur pajamas, and Tomy Hide n’ Squeak eggs. Admittedly I had already given her a couple of the items but I put them all back into the basket and presented them to her again on Easter morning.
We spent the first part of the day relaxing around the house. After lunch we loaded up the car and headed to the beach for a couple of hours. Being new to the area we weren’t exactly sure which beach we should go to. Pensacola Beach is typically busy and rowdy. Our friends recommended Johnson Beach in Perdido Key.
Johnson Beach is a recreational area maintained by the National Park Service which means there is an entry fee for admittance to the area ($20 per vehicle for this particular area). Fortunately for us, we have a National Parks Annual Pass which allows us entry into the park for free. (Pro tip: Military members can pick up a FREE National Parks Annual Pass at a federal recreation site by showing their military ID. I picked ours up while visiting Castillo de San Marcos in St. Augustine last year.)
There is one main parking lot for Johnson Beach, though vehicles are permitted to park along the road unless otherwise posted. Adjacent to the parking lot is a huge picnic pavilion which can be reserved for parties as well as bathrooms. Lifeguards are on duty during the summer months.
Gulf Coast beaches are completely different than those along Jacksonville’s coast. Gulf Coast beaches are crystal clear with white powdery sand while Jacksonville beaches are dirty and murky. We never went to the beach in Jacksonville but I have a feeling we’ll spend a lot of time in the sand during our time in Pensacola.
Johnson Beach was full of families enjoying the warm holiday. We claimed our little section of sand and set up our chairs and umbrellas. This was Emme’s first real trip to the beach but she sat in the sand and played happily. The water was still a little too chilly for swimming but we dipped our feet in and watched the waves break at our ankles. We hung out for about two hours before packing up and heading home. And it didn’t take long for Emme to fall sound asleep in her carseat.
If you’re looking for a nice, quiet beach to relax we would definitely recommend Johnson Beach. There were people all around us but the atmosphere was still serene. We are looking forward to visiting Johnson Beach again and other beaches in the area.
How was your Easter (or Sunday, if you don’t celebrate)?
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