This blog is dedicated to Gary Reed, father, father-in-law and Grandpa Extraordinaire who decided last year to invest in some family memories.
And boy did we make some when TeamReed, both branches, spent a week together in paradise. Literally.
White sand like powder. Breezes softer than the petal of a fresh-bloomed rose. Temps hot enough to warm the cockles of Ebeneezer Scrooge (or scrape the first three layers of skin from an insufficiently sunblocked Mainer). Amazing food and drink around every corner. The only shortage was enough hours in the day when you could stay awake to enjoy it all.
It was enough to make you want to immigrate. 'Course we'd have had to find a way to stay at the resort as guests rather than dishwashers and none of use did that. But I'd bet a gaggle of geckos that we each thought about it at least once.
It was amazing. If you need a break, skip Southern California. Miss Mexico. Meander past Miami and go to Turks & Caicos.
I turned off my phone when we boarded in Charlotte and didn't turn it back on until we got back to that airport. On none of the intervening days did I pine for its ping. I checked email a few times, but that was it. It might have been the most relaxing vacation I've ever had.
We sighted nearly 200 geckos if you trust Alison's counting; seven cats (I think there were actually three that we saw multiple times; apply that phenomenon to the gecko count if you're into accuracy...) and an egret or two.
We saw one tiny gecko that appeared to me to have been the victim of a hit and run housekeeping cart.
"No, Mom. It's guts would be right there if was dead. I think it's sleeping," asserted Alison.
Jeff and Jen ran on the beach most mornings. It took her only one morning to learn to run into the wind when starting out rather than coming back. Peter and I stuck mostly to the gym where he showed me a squat I'd not been doing. I'm contemplating how to return that favor...
We met a couple from Chicago who had two daughters. The wife had a couple of attributes that kept the Reed males hoping she'd come back. After Ali had disappeared with the girls to the water park, Jeff volunteered to go check on "the girls."
"I'll make sure Ali, Sophie and Olivia are OK, too," he said.
Auntie Jen and Uncle Peter took Ali to dinner one night so Jeff, Gary and I could go to the adults only French restaurant. The service took a lot longer than we expected. At some point she decided the night was over and informed Jen that it looked like she was having a sleepover. She assessed the bed options and said, "You guys can have that big bed and I'll take this little one over here."
By the time we stopped in to pick her up, she was fast asleep in the trundle.
Like all good Edens, there were swim-up bars everywhere you looked and when we skipped the pool for the beach, we parked ourselves with the sea to our front and a bar just behind us. We drank our way through bushwhackers, margaritas, mojitos, pina coladas, drinks of the day, various flavors of daiquiries and of course the island beer.
In the water park area, there was no alcohol served. Ice cream, however, was in plentiful supply. I thought Alison would never leave. "Mom!!!! You can have ice cream RIGHT IN THE POOL!!!!!"
Grandpa skipped snorkling, but the rest of us spent a good portion of Wednesday afternoon with our backs to the sky and faces pointed underwater. We saw a family of squid, sea turtles, a lion fish and various other sea creatures.
We were with a group and it was really hard to stick together. You could find Alison fairly easily if you just listened to her squealing and grabbing the closest body to point out a new find.
Ali and I met the Chicago family when she and I parasailed. Jeff had done it before and not found it amazing. Alison and I had the opposite experience.
"Mom. This is the best day of my life," she said. And that was before she got her gecko tattoo and spent the afternoon in the water park with her new friends.
There was music everywhere none of it country.
"I think you can take a break for a week," proclaimed my rock-n-roll daughter.
Coming home, we reflected on the best parts of the trip. It kept us talking for quite a while and as she often does, Ali summed it up best.
"We have the best Grandpa," Alison said.