Upon arriving in Fort Walton Beach, we called our hotel to see about checking in earlier. Our six-month old had been in the car seat about all she wanted. She wasn’t fussy mind you, but she was not real happy. The hotel said no problem, and was again reminded by my wife, just like in the previous three phone calls, that we needed a baby bed. Just that morning as I prepared to pack the playpen she told me not to worry, the hotel had enough heads up and would it would be alright-so we didn’t pack it.
After we unloaded the car, I got in my brother and sister-in-law’s vehicle to take my middle child to Dauphin Island. They look so close on the map. Well, the hotel failed, an epic fail. Not only did they not have one, their response was, “Sorry.” So, the small room overlooking the tiny pool had no means of holding my 6 month old child to sleep, short of stacking pillows around her in the bed. For any who have traveled with a child, you know this is not acceptable. After a few heated exchanges with the hotel staff, my wife was able to get them to give back our money, which of course left us in the unenviable state of having nowhere to go. This was the Hampton Inn on Okaloosa Island, don’t go there.
This occurred before we got out of Fort Walton Beach, but my sister-in-law came through in the clutch twice. First by calling a friend to see about borrowing a Pack and Play. She didn’t have one, but called back not 45 seconds later to report that at her apartment complex someone had just set one by the dumpster. We were within a mile, drove up, checked it out, threw it in the trunk then continued on our way. There is nothing wrong with it, except that it smelled of salad dressing, until we Lysol-ed it. Second, she called a few other friends and finally got someone with ResortQuest. The cost was 50% more than the Hampton Inn that you should never go to, but the room itself was three times the size. It overlooks the pool and the Gulf, and the pool is easily six times the size of the Hampton Don’t Go To Inn. In addition, there are 2 free DVD rentals per day, and a whole slew of other amenities that are free for one adult and one child.
Among these is a deep-sea fishing trip. Now, I grew up on a beach. Fort Walton Beach reminds me a great deal of Biloxi. There’s the Gulf, the beach, a bay, an Air Force Base, lots of military people, and the glorious, wonderful, ever so welcome humidity (that my wife can’t stand). I grew up with big families, spending great amounts of time at the library, at the beach, at the bay, fishing, swimming, boating, canoeing, rowing, sailing, and eating seafood that if you didn’t catch you bought from the guy who did. As I tell my wife, if it smells like fish, it’s too old to eat. Despite all this, I have never in my life been deep-sea fishing. Tomorrow my brother-in-law and I are going for essentially half-price.
Now, none of this has made any mention of prayers, but every one of these things are directly attributable to prayers. I have prayed about this trip many times before, and on the way down. I can’t do anything without praying. I once prayed for a parking spot near the front of a casino, and parked right next to the door (I was taking my then 77 year-old grandmother to the restaurant for dinner). Providence has constantly put me where I was needed and this trip has been no exception. Let’s see what today holds.