A crammed minivan, Taylor Swift CD, and a big, fluffy pillow- this is how my adventurous vacation begins. From New Philadelphia, Ohio to Panama City Beach, Florida is not a trip for the weak- eighteen hours stuck in the Honda Odyssey, surviving on cans of Pringles and warm bottled water, counting down the miles until Florida. Though it sounds rough, vacations like these are what I wait for all year. Vacation means rest, relaxation, and maybe even a tan to show off back home: things I need after balancing school and a job for the past year.
After all of the anticipation, we- my parents, my best friend Courttney, and I- arrive at Nautical Watch Condominiums, on the “World’s Most Beautiful Beaches” (at least that’s the reasonable claim around Panama City). Walking on the white, warm sand to the crystal-clear water makes me realize just how lucky I am to be in such a great place with such amazing people. Back in the room, unpacking is not my top priority, and sharing a sleeper sofa with Courttney for ten days is not the highlight of the trip, but who cares, it’s Florida!
As the days pass, our usual routines happen- tanning, swimming, and eating out, but there are a few problems in paradise. Huge amounts of seaweed are on the beach, noisy neighbors keep me awake until 1A.M., and my bed feels like I’m sleeping on a set of monkey bars. I could complain, but I spend more time thinking about my fear- parasailing! Nerves get the best of me as I wait with Courttney for a banana boat to take us out to the sea. The boat ride out is enough of a story to talk about, but actually parasailing is the most thrilling experience of my life. Any fear I had of heights or deep water is immediately extinguished as I see the high-rises forming miles away in the horizon- an unforgettable sight. It is over all too quickly, and, with parasailing as an achievement now under our belts, Courttney and I are on our way back to the shoreline.
Though parasailing is over, we have fun at museums, like Ripley’s Believe It or Not! and Wonderworks; shrunken heads and hurricane simulators were not quite what I expected to find on my vacation. Lots of time is spent in the sun the last few days, and the rest of the time seems to be spent disagreeing with Courttney. Ten days is a lot more time with Courttney than I imagined, but it’s fun to have a friend experience everything with me.
Though the pointless arguments with Courttney continue, our trip has to end. Packing up is depressing, knowing that there is a whole year until I can come back again. As I get ready for the car ride back to plain, old, boring Ohio, I ponder on this vacation. I faced my fears and went parasailing, I laughed so hard I cried (on multiple occasions), and I made dozens of memories to share with all my friends and family. The hours pass sitting in the van, and I realize that it doesn’t take being a thousand miles from home for me to be this content. By just taking on new adventures and stepping back to see how wonderful everything is, I can make life thrilling, exciting, and like a vacation every single day.