The interior of the van is equally as packed with both people and parcels. The trunk is filled to the brim with an odd combination of fishing gear, Barbies, plastic dinosaurs and snacks.
Behind the driver there is a red cooler, on top of it is a VCR, and on top of it is a white TV, deeper than it is tall. The three pieces are strapped together with a bungie cord (and maybe some duct tape). To the TV, five pairs of eyes are momentarily glued, though it won't last because it's evitable that with five under 10, you can only expect short spans of silence.
What's most surprising about the scenario is that the van is not only in the left lane, but passing most of the other cars on the interstate. This van is on a mission.
This is a journey we've made for more than 20 years: Indiana to Kentucky to Tennessee to Alabama (wave to Florala!) to Florida. And between Sandestin and Rosemary Beach, my family has countless memories. The region truly served as our second home growing up.
Last week, we returned to the Panhandle for a week in Rosemary. Although we arrived two-by-two, at different times, some by car, some by plane, the week lived up to our high expectations.
It was so wonderful for all of us to be together, enjoying the sun, and watching Lily, Finn, and Griff begin to make their memories at the beach. We convinced Lily to try out the ocean, Court and Ash convinced me to re-try a sweet potato (never again), and by the end of the week, we were all convinced that more time together is necessary.Since our days of the Astro van, we've traded in the car, switched the VCR for an iPod, exchanged long afternoon rollerblades for long walks with the new babies, and of course, kept my dad's fishing gear. But with all of these changes there is no doubt that the area still feels like home, the Donut Hole still has the best donuts (ever!), and my dad could still get to Florida faster than Dale Earnhardt.