Thursday, July 28, 2016

Our Amazing Trip to Ocean City Maryland

When we came to realize that Emily was not going to get to go to the beach this year, Mike and I began thinking of things we could do to take a family trip and not break the bank with two vacations.  I have this wonderful friend, Molly, who works for a vacation resort that is close to our house.  As a job perk, she is able to get vacations for her family for the cost of the cleaning fee and that is it.  Which often tends to be just a couple hundred dollars.  So you are looking at a week in a condo for $300.  Awesome!!  On several occasions, she has asked me if I would like a unit that she has to give up.  Unfortunately she always finds out at the last minute and we have not been able to partake in such an awesome thing.  When this all came about, I took a chance and asked her what she thought the odds would be to get us one of her good deals on a vacation.  She told us she couldn't guarantee us anything and would not know anything until like the week before, but she could try.

We gave her two weeks to pull from.  One of which was more favorable than the other and three beach towns to look for a condo.  SHE FOUND ONE FOR US!!  In Ocean City!!  The kids and I had never been to Ocean City.  Mike had been when he was a middle school student, but really didn't remember it.  We found out the week before and we were able to go the whole week except for one day.  So we went Saturday to Friday instead of Friday to Friday.  It was all good though!!!  We were so excited!!

 We were about three blocks off the beach on the bay side.  Unfortunately, our unit was in between the two buildings that were on the "shore" of the bay.  We were not able to see the water from our unit.  Beggars can't be choosers so we didn't complain.  :)  We got to see plenty of water while we were there.  The Hilton is ocean front so you roughly know how far we were.  We were able to walk to the beach when we went to that one.
 This was the pool.  This was truly the ONLY thing I didn't like.  It was built like a greenhouse, which I am sure in the winter months is REALLY nice, but in the middle of July--not so much.  There was no air conditioner in there so it was very hard to breathe.  The kids enjoyed it and didn't seem to mind the thick air, but was not my cup of tea.
 Our unit was built like a town house.  It was three floors and we entered on the "basement" level.  On that level was a jacuzzi tub.  The kids jumped in the first night we were there.  :)  Nuts!  They loved the whole place and were so excited!  The girls "lived" on the basement level and were down there all the time.  I realized what it would be like if they had a tv in their room at home.  We would NEVER see them!!  They enjoyed having their own little place.  

The main floor had a kitchen, family room, tv and deck.  No bathroom so you had to either go downstairs or upstairs to the master bedroom loft to use the bathroom.  Ryan stayed on the main floor.  And slept on the hide-a-bed sofa.  It was all so perfect!  Two bedrooms, but we were good to go for all 5 of us.
 This was a place down the street from where we were staying.  They had pizza and subs.  We thought it would be a good, cheap place to go on our first night.  Food was ok, but was not cheap.  :)  We were happy to be in Ocean City though!!

 We walked everywhere we went.  It was great!  I think if we moved there, I might actually lose some weight.  :)  We did have to walk single file most of the time due to there being sidewalks and other people walking.  Mike would typically walk in front and me in the back so that everyone was between us.  Sometimes we would mix it up and I would do the leading.  :)
 This is Lydia and me on the main drag through Ocean City.  Not sure where we were headed there, but we apparently were taking a picture.
 We walked down to Fish Tales this particular night.  Then crossed the main drag though OC and headed back on the other side of the road.  Fish Tales is a restaurant we had heard about that had sand for a floor.  We didn't realize we were walking up to it this particular night and there it was.  There was a boat dock just out from the restaurant with some pretty tall boats.
 Everyone took a picture with Mike's favorite one.
 This is Fish Tales.  We didn't happen to eat there this time, but we do plan to go back sometime soon and will hopefully eat there the next time.  It comes highly recommended.

This is a picture that can't even begin to do justice to the amazing sunset we viewed as we walked along the dock that night.  On the way back we stopped for ice cream and at a candy shop that had two hand chairs sitting outside.
The girls requested I take their picture.  After looking at this it reminds me of this saying my dad has about two birds in the hand are better than a bush or something.  I can never remember it or even know what it means, but this picture made me think of my dad.  :)  Of course we had to hit the junk shop.  That was part of our walk too.  Lydia holding her back scratcher made me think of that.

Upon our arrival in Ocean City, we talked to a man who was a local.  Said he had lived there 56 years (or something like that).  He told us about Assateague Island.  It was about 20 minutes from where we stayed. He told us about this little island and the wild ponies that it had on it.  This sounded really fun so we decided to check it out.  It was actually a state park so you needed to pay to get on the island, but you paid for a 7 day pass.  Once you paid, you could go as often as you wanted in those 7 days.  We went there about 4 or 5 times.  We LOVED it!!

There was a visitors center just before you go over the bridge to get on the island.  There were people with information and a map to know where to go to do what you wanted to do.

 Ryan is always kind of hit or miss as to whether or not he is enjoying the company of his family.
Who knows.
 The beach there was so beautiful!!  There were no high rise condos and everything was just beautiful.  Ryan even had a sting ray swim right next to him at one point.  Was crazy!
 The weather was so amazing!!
 One of the nights we came back and the kids were finding treasures in the sand.  They found sing ray "tails" and horseshoe crab shells.  Many treasures!  People come out on to the beach and have campfires at night.  We wanted to do that, but knew we would not stay long enough for it to burn out so decided not to. 

 We came to the beach two different evenings.  Hoping to get a picture of a horse on the beach.  Had to post this picture as you will notice the little pink backpack Mike is carrying.  Our children are FAMOUS for bringing something with them on an outing and then asking one of us to hold it.  Many times we say no, but many times we give in.  Not only was it pink, but by the end of the evening his arms were killing him because it was too small--arms were adjusted for Lydia.  Was too funny!
 Holding some treasures.
This island creates such a special sunset!  Without the high rise condos, you can actually see the sunset!  Wish this picture could do justice!!
From the point you come on to the island, you see horses everywhere.  There are about 85 of them according to one of the game employees.

We couldn't stop taking pictures of the horses.  It was as if we had never seen any horses before.  :)  Guess we really have not, unless they were confined to a fence.
 We were told, by the local guy, Assateague Island would be the best place to go crabbing too.  So we took our stuff down--and the crabs, they were a plenty!  We love crabbing and I thought we loved eating them.  The last few times we have done this, not only I ate them, but Ryan and Mike did too.  This time, Ryan bailed on me pretty early in the eating process and Mike didn't help either.  We caught a bunch and there were just too many for just me.  I think next time we will give them away.

We did teach a lot of people what to do.  Many of them were trying to catch with chicken necks and we told them we spend a little bit more and use chicken legs.  They work GREAT!  Gave a couple our leftover chicken when we left and gave a guy one of our hooks so he could just try.  They are 99 cents so it was not a big deal.  He was grateful.

 We got some big ones!
 Emily likes to catch them (Lydia does not--she took some pictures for us--you can see her in Ryan's sunglasses in one of the above pictures), but no one really wants to take them out of the net.  Or catch them in the net for that matter.  Poor Mike doesn't get to do the string too much as he is the crab master and scoops them all into the net and gets them into the cooler.  I secretly think he likes it.  :)
 The horses were very plentiful.  They were so tame, but the employees encouraged you to not get too close as you never know what a wild horse will do. This one decided he needed to go to the bathroom.  It was funny.  He just stood in there for a long time.
 Emily was scared to death of the horses!  She didn't want to go near them!  Mike finally talked her into getting close to one.  This is the best he could do.

I think Lydia was a little scared too.  :)  Click on the picture so you can see her expression.  They do tell you at the visitors center as well as many signs throughout the island, that you are to not get close to the horses.  They even post pictures of people who have been injured.  Think the girls took it to heart. I am glad they were cautious.
This was a rare sighting!  On our way off the island one night, we saw a fawn.  So cute!!
The horses were known for going on the beach as well.  I wanted to see one go on the beach so badly!  They did tell us that when a horse gets on the beach, they will often destroy stuff that the humans have.  Food, chairs, etc.  So they prefer they don't go on the beach.  I just wanted a picture so badly!  Didn't get it.  :( 

The kids had a ton of fun on their boogie boards!  Ryan's rope popped off at one point, but he hung on to the board!!
 This was taken on a deck walkway that takes you from the parking area to the beach.  There were even areas where you saw evidence that the horses commute to the beach the same way. :) The area was just so beautiful.  You may see this picture again sometime.  :)
 This picture is so great!  I actually use it as my cover photo on my facebook account.  Without the high rise condos, the sun really works in your favor.  I also like this picture as I think it looks like Mike is "packing."  He is holding the tripod for us to take a family photo and it looks like a rifle in his hand or something.  :)
 We must leave our mark on our awesome vacation!
Our reason for Mike "packing" the tripod.  We could not get Ryan to take his shoes off so he looks a little weird.  This was my facebook profile picture for a while until the first day of school hit.  Even with my being in it, I still like it.  :)
We loved the beach!  Loved the island!  We only went to the beach at Ocean City one time while we were there.  Well, one full day and one partial day.  WAY MORE PEOPLE so we stuck with Assateague Island instead.  However, wanted to go to "our" Ocean City Beach once or twice.  :)

I managed to go into the "Greenhouse" long enough to take some pictures of the kids while Mike was throwing them.  I actually got in a couple of times myself, but was just not as enjoyable as pools typically are.

We continued many of our Myrtle Beach traditions at Ocean City, while making new traditions and new memories.  We went out one night for awesome seafood!  Crablegs!!  We walked to and ate at Embers.  The other nights we ate in our condo.  Except the first night.  After a yummy dinner we did the putt putt thing.

There are no where near as many putt putt courses in Ocean City as their are in Myrtle Beach!  The ones that they do have are also not quite as nice.  At least the ones we saw and noticed.  We chose this one because we had a coupon, but it was really no better or worse than any others.  It was putt putt and it was fun and that is all that mattered!!
 As I said, we walked everywhere while we were there.  This is the night we walked to the boardwalk.  We were on 32nd street and the end of the boardwalk was on 27th street.  Once we made it to the boardwalk, we had to walk a little bit to get to the shops and things.
 Walking on the boardwalk.
 Other side of the boardwalk--different night.
 Boardwalk fun with Minions and wishing Uncle Paul and Happy Birthday.  It was his birthday and we sent him a movie singing happy birthday to him.

Our fun boardwalk evening had to come to an end.  We came off the boardwalk and walked back via the beach.  So fun!!

As much as I love our "group family" vacations that we take with my parents and brother and his family, I love the ones we take by ourselves so much!!  I want one of our "group family" vacations to be at Ocean City in the next couple of years!!  Hopefully anyway!  

Molly, you are an amazing friend!  I can't tell you how much we truly appreciated your generosity and hard work in helping to make this this happen!!  Saving you, when you were stranded on the side of the road when your car broke down, doesn't begin to pay you back for this!!  It was incredible!  I hope that you and your family are able to make it to Ocean City one day.  Though I know you go to so many other amazing places!  Thank you!

Mom, Dad, Paul . . . start thinking Ocean City!!  :)