When Life Gives You Oil, Add A Little Vinegar And Make A Lovely Vinaigrette

I’ve been trying really hard to remain upbeat about the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

I keep thinking that something – SURELY, SOMETHING – will be able to stop the leak.

I keep thinking that maybe the winds will shift and the oil will move out in the middle of nowhere for a little while – at least until somebody comes up with a solution.

But if you’ve been paying attention to the news, you know that things aren’t looking so great for the Gulf Coast right now. The oil is about 9 miles off of the Florida Panhandle. And that oil has a mind to move.

The little man and I are actually heading to that part of the Gulf this weekend with some friends. We’ve been looking forward to this trip for a couple of months, and whenever I’ve thought about it, I’ve pictured the kids playing in the water while the grown-ups sit on the beach and talk about Real Housewives and read magazines and relax.

It probably goes without saying that in my hypothetical mental picture, I’m also firmly ensconced underneath a beach umbrella. And coated in 220 SPF while wielding some sort of protective sun shield.

It’s strange, I know, but my complete inability to tan has never for one second diminished my love for the beach. It’s my happy place. And the beaches along the Alabama coast and the Florida Panhandle feel like home to me. They’re my favorite place on earth. There’s nowhere – NOWHERE – I’d rather go with my people. I imagine that many of y’all feel the same way about the beaches in Louisiana and Mississippi, too.

And honestly, I’m ticked – TIIIIIIIIICKED – that those beaches are going to be a big ole mess if somebody doesn’t figure out how to fix the problem.

I’m ticked that the marshlands off the Louisiana coast are already a big ole mess because nobody has figured out how to fix the problem.

I’m ticked that the Gulf is a big ole mess and the oil has spread over thousands of square miles because nobody has figured out how to fix the problem.

And when I get ticked? I get stubborn.

So. Whether the oil hits the Panhandle beaches or not, we’re going down there in a few days. And WE’RE GOING TO ENJOY OURSELVES, BY DIGGITY. We may not be able to hang out on the white sand or play in the Gulf, but we’ll still be able to relax by the pool. Heaven knows we’ll still be able to talk about Real Housewives. And we’ll still be able to grab a couple of meals from local restaurants that are far more affected by this whole BP fiasco than most of us will ever even begin to comprehend.

It’s a place that’s been very, very sweet to our little family.

And for better or worse, it has a piece of our hearts forever.

The end.

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  1. I am so glad you are taking the attitude that you are. We own a condo in Panama City Beach and were there in May for 2 weeks and it was just GORGEOUS. We have rentals booked starting in mid June, but fear people will cancel closer to the time even if there is no oil. It is tragically affecting businesses even where the oil has not arrived and may never arrive. Have a good time, and take some more gorgeous pictures. And if PCB appeals to you, email me and I will put you in contact with our rental agent!

  2. I really do hope and pray that they find a solution to this problem and despite I do hope you have a great trip and can enjoy yourself!!!!!

  3. Amen and amen. The Florida panhandle is where my family has vacationed for generations, and it holds a very special place in my heart. I am so distressed every night when I see the news…it just gets worse and worse. SO awful. Good for you for going down there on vacation, and I hope lots of other people do the same.

  4. I feel your pain. We have a condo booked in Panama starting June 16 for a week. I keep checking the news everyday to see where the oil is going. Have been SO looking forward to this. Holding my breath.

  5. Our favorite vacation spot is Destin, and we spent a week there in April. This year I really wanted to go on a dolphin-watching cruise, and we got to do that. Now all I can think about are those lovely dolphins and what will become of them? I think about it when I go to sleep and when I wake up in the morning I think, “My word. That hole has been gushing all night long!” I keep praying for someone to have a brilliant idea that works.

  6. I’m glad ya’ll are still going and I imagine you’ll still have the best time! I mean you could take HOURS about the housewives! And the food in the gulf is worth the trip to me! We have tried looking at other places but we still want to go to gulf shores/orange beach. I hope we do.
    And Scott is tied with you on who is the maddest about all this.

  7. I live in St Petersburg, FL just five minutes from the St Pete Beache….we Floridians appreciate your loyalty…but something tells me you’re still going because you cannot get your money back if you don’t. I pray for the beaches every night.

  8. Thank you so much for posting this – we have been wavering on our vacation plans for September in Destin. But Destin is one of our our favorite places on earth and your blog reminded us that we must not desert it or its people right now when they need us most!

  9. Love your pictures and love your attitude. I agree the white sands are amazing. I have read your blog now for a couple months. It makes me laugh out loud. Can’t wait to hear about your adventures.

  10. i’m from pensacola, the oil is only 7 miles away from there now. friends at home say the smell is driving them inside. it hurts my heart that this has happened and continues to happen in ways i can’t find words to explain. that being said, GO. i think it will be life changing to see that lives have been changed and what our part, each of us, has in this mess. and, the local economies need you, the mom and pop places that count on tourism, the big hotel/condo owners that employ so many, the manufactors of the tacky souveniers…they all need you.

  11. Glad you’re still going. I hope you enjoy every moment of your trip. I lived in Pensacola for several years and I really miss the beaches. Hate this oil spill!

  12. We need to keep praying to just make it stop.

  13. Thank you for this post! I love your attitude : ) Enjoy our Florida!

  14. It’s just making me sick sick sick.
    I was just there this past weekend and it was gorgeous. Took a mental picture b/c I’m afraid it won’t look like that again.
    Y’all have a great week and I pray that it’s oil free.

  15. Peyton says:

    So important for all of us to remember everyone affected by this spill. I keep picturing family businesses that have been fishing in those waters for generations… their families depending on them alone… we all must pray and pray not only that it stops but for clean-up and for relief for the “little ppl”. My heart goes out to those already trying to survive on little.

  16. Aww Sophie, I feel the same way! We always vacation in Gulf Shores/Orange Beach… We spent a week there about two weeks ago and it was still so beautiful! No oil, no smell, not even any seaweed! But, as we were packing to leave, I felt so sad that it might all change. We just love that area and have had so many good times there, too….

  17. Like most people across the U.S., I’ve watched the oil slick grow with abject horror.

    But suddenly – and here’s the beauty of the blog world – it’s also personal for me, even though I’ve never in my life visited the Gulf Coast.

    I’m glad you’re going, Sophie. Enjoy yourself and make some memories. And if the oil washes ashore, I will mourn the white sand with you.

  18. I live on the Mississippi Gulf Coast and I can tell you this perception of the situation has already been disastrous to our tourism and to everybody here that makes a living on the Gulf – hotels are getting cancellations, charter boats have had no bookings, fishermen, shrimpers, people who make their living oystering and crabbing have been held at a standstill, unable to work. Their livelihoods have been stolen. At a time when our tourism season and our seafood season is just beginning down here – all across the Gulf Coast from Florida to Louisiana, we find our entire lives are engulfed in this fear of that oil “out there” and where it will come in and how bad it will be. The future is so uncertain already, and the oil is just spewing continually with it seems, no way to stop it.

    The beaches are currently clean. It is beautiful here. And, except for a couple of days since the spill where there was a chemical odor in the air – I think from the dispersants that were being used – everything looks normal, yet this perception and the situation of the unknown is so pervasive in every area of our lives down here.

    That Gulf is our life, our living, the center of our economic base, and we were hoping for this year to be the year that we finally came back from the devastating effects of the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

    This oil “out there” and all of the unknown with it, is all anybody is talking about. It is all that is on our news. On our minds. In our conversations. Massive preparations are going on in crisis centers behind the scenes every day because nobody knows what is going to happen or when or what the extent will be. It is the worse thing I have experienced in my life.

    Sorry to have hijacked your comments – as you see, my heart is broken.

  19. I am so sad about this spill, too. When I see people on TV scrubbing the daylights out of an oil-soaked pelican, I cry. Everything about it just saddens me.
    But I know you’ll still have a fabulous weekend because good friends = good times!

  20. I think the saddest part is that many men lost their lives that day, and at this point I can’t help but feel like everybody “in charge” is just about as flippant about that as they are about how truly awful this entire situation is. I for one plan to go to the beach this August or September, come heck or high oil, and make the best of it. But I still can’t not think about my father-in-law on the MS Gulf Coast, who has spent many glorious days of his recent retirement fishing those waters, who said, “I’d prefer my speckled trout to not come pre-blackened.” Certainly a situation, like all, that we must give to God.

  21. I live outside of New Orleans, and this whole thing just makes me want to break down and cry. nearly every day. it’s devastating.

  22. I, and I’m sure the residents of the Gulf Coast, are glad that you are taking that attitude. Many, many people’s livelihoods depend on tourism, and they need all the help they can get right now. Remember, though, that even if a big ol’ wind pushed that oil out to sea, it wouldn’t be the middle of nowhere; there are many sea creatures that are taking the brunt of this, no matter where it ends up.

  23. I just realized that when you take out that clause, it says “I are glad” in that sentence above. Hi, I is a English major.

  24. Nicely done.

  25. So well said, Sophie. I hope y’all have a lovely time and I hope many people follow your noble, loyal example. Also what an amazingly poignant stack of comments from your FL readers. They really bring it all home, don’t they? My prayers are with everyone and every living thing down there.

  26. Feeling discouraged and sad with you over this terrible ordeal…praying for a solution…

    So glad you are taking your people to your special place anyway! Hope you have a wonderful time!

    By the way, if you are a fan of the Sonic…stop over and share some of your faves with me. You know…for the official blog research I’m doing. ;)


  27. I agree with you…it’s so sad for the animals, the beach-goers, the tourist industry. I heard the other day that it’ll be two months before they have the equipment built to fix it. :(

    On a high note…”BY DIGGITY”…I’m going to have to start using this phrase because I laughed out loud.

    Hope you have a great time on you vacation. You have a great attitude!


  28. rhonda says:

    Here’s what I don’t get…oil companies are allowed to drill in the Gulf but have no idea how to stop it when something like this happens? Give me a break. If the same thing happened on land while drilling they have a way to stop it. Sooooo why aren’t they required to know how to stop it in under the water, before they are allowed to drill there in the first place? Seems like that would be a requirement or something. I just can’t believe some of the tings that I’ve read about what they have tried….blowing golf balls into the leak? Mud and concrete? When I heard those things being done I realized just how desperate the situation really is. It sickens me.

  29. I know God is in charge of this. And that is the only peace I have. I’m ticked too.

  30. I don’t know where exactly you are going…but if it’s not the Alabama/Pensacola beaches….you should be good. I live on the coast just east of Panama City…and it’s still beautiful here. For now. And I’m with you…I’m a bit TIIIIICKED. It messes up everything I know about summer. It messes with peoples lives and even more serious – a lot of peoples WAY of life. It’s sad. And Horrible.

  31. I know God could stop the Gulf oil leak with his little pinky finger or with a Word from His mouth but perhaps He is waiting for Christians to cry out to Him and stop blaming BP and take ownership over this disaster (ala 2 Chronicles 7:14). Maybe the oil flow represents his tears and cry to us as a Christian nation to repent and turn to Him. Just saying, maybe.

  32. Good for you! Glad you’re still going and planning to give support to the businesses there. This hurricane season has us Texans worried about our coastal areas, too. Such a mess.

    Guess what? God wasn’t surprised when that oil rig blew – HE is still in control. Not BP. Not the EPA. Not the government.

  33. AMEN, Sophie-girl!!

    We are heading that way this weekend, too. And I feel the same way; we’re still going to love on our beautiful beaches.

    I’m SOOOOOO flippin’ mad that no one has figured this thing out yet… or worse, that there was not a SINGLE THING in place in case it did happen!! GRRRR!!

    And while I won’t make even the most miniscule dent in their profits, I’ll never-EVER buy BP gasoline again!!

  34. I’ll just ditto what Gayle said…why oh why was there not a plan for this happening?

  35. I’m going in July. I hope it is still there. Even if it’s not, we will go and see what we can, support the locals businesses.
    It has become my home. White sand is more precious to me now than Georgia red clay.

  36. You’ve gotta wonder. It seems to me like the Arab world has successfully and immediately dealt with crises like this before. Can’t someone call and ask how they did it? Don’t we have a red phone somewhere?

  37. PRAYER is the key. I’ve seen hurricanes miss places as a result of fervent prayers.

  38. This post made me cry. Louisiana has been my home since I was six years old. Nearly 35 years. Pensacola, Florida is my home town. Many relatives on both sides still call it home.

    I share your love for the beaches there and along the Alabama coast. They are also my favorite places. My husband sent a text to me yesterday asking that I check on the current beach status. I sent a message to a friend who lives in Gulf Breeze via facebook. So far, clear. But “come now! Like this weekend,” she said, “because you may not have another chance.”

    But I am like you and would rather be there feeling the salty ocean air even if I could not walk the beach. I’d rather visit those restaurants and just take in the beauty of the ocean from a hotel balcony even oil was approaching.

    It grieves me. My daughter and son-in-law are both in the National Guard. My son-in-law is deployed in Iraq. My daughter was called out just prior to Mother’s Day to help here in Louisiana due to the oil spill. After a couple of days they sent her home because it’s considered a hardship for her to be there with her husband deployed and her six-month-old baby left with me. Her two week summer drill is in a few weeks. She will likely be in Grand Isle. After a message from Drill Sgt. asking if she would consider coming early, she decided she would in spite of her situation. Those extra days without her baby boy will be well spent helping along our coast.

    The need is overwhelming and getting worse each day. We are praying for wisdom. For someone to find a solution for this awful problem. Now that hurricane season is upon us concerns are rising.

    Please, please, everyone continue to pray! This is yet another situation that makes me so grateful for our men and women who serve so selflessly and so proud of my daughter and son-in-law.

    Thanks, Sophie, for posting this.

  39. I’m with you. Literally – I’ll be down there this weekend, too.

    But more figuratively, I am so saddened of what is going to be happening to one of my favorite places on earth. I really can’t even comprehend it – because honestly, I don’t want to. MAYBE, just maybe, someone over at BP will invent a huge oil vacuum right before it hits and fix it all….right?

  40. I’m so sad about it too, as I echo your Alabama and Florida panhandle sentiments 100%. It’s just so sad. We’re planning to go next month to continue supporting the place we love.

    Word to the wise: Please don’t eat ANYTHING from the Gulf!

  41. It’s just sick! I feel physically ill any time I see footage of the spill on tv. It’s insane that it’s still not contained. This driver will NEVER buy BP gas again!! Enjoy your special time at the beach. I will join those and pray continually for wisdom/answers/help for this awful situation. Thanks for the great post!

  42. Thank you from the *bottom* of my heart for this post!! As someone from the Panhandle we need all the help we can get. We depend on people just like you!! Thank you for coming and I hope you have a wonderful vacay!!!

  43. I am so sorry about the beach and what is happening in the Gulf. What is going on with the crazy world??

    On the other hand.

    You and your friends could actually act scenes from the Real Housewives. Dibs on Ramona!!!

  44. Christians ARE gathering on the beaches to pray. To pray for God’s mercy and grace.Crying out to God does not take away the responsibility for the ones whose careless actions caused this tragedy. If Alex can’t swim in the gulf, take him across the street to the bay. Hopefully, the booms will hold. He’ll have lots of fun catching hermit crabs and it’s super shallow so he’ll have lots of room to roam and explore! Have fun visiting our town.

  45. What a spot-on post! I’ve never been to the Gulf but live right on the coast of VA and my heart is just breaking over this mess. Our governor has been pushing HARD to allow oil drilling off our coast but that was put on indefinite hold after the LA disaster. My family is praying, along with everyone else, not only for a quick repair, but also for everyone whose lives and livelihoods have been affected.

    I hope y’all have a wonderful vacation-full of great weather, beach fun and sweet memories.

  46. Totally agree!!! There’s just no better place to vacation with your family! Y’all have fun…we hope to go before the summer ends. We gotta keep supporting all those folks down there, bless their sweet souls!

  47. I am so sorry about the beach and what is happening in the Gulf. What is going on with the crazy world??

    On the other hand.

    You and your friends could actually act scenes from the Real Housewives. Dibs on Ramona!!!

  48. I’m so sorry, Sophie. And I totally believe you when you say you’re not going to let this ruin your time with your friends. I’m praying your time is sweeter than you could’ve imagined.

  49. This comment has nothing to do with your post, and for that I apologize! I’m watching RHoNYC finale and am dying to know what you and Big Mama think. Please do a podcast tomorrow! Incidentally, I just discovered your podcasts, and have listened to all of them in about a week (usually at the gym where I die laughing and almost fall off the elliptical machine). I would have you, Big Mama and Fry Daddy all over for supper.

  50. I’m with you. We are going to the Florida Coast in July and there is no way I’m cancelling that trip. If for no other reason than to eat at the restaurants that will need my business. And we’re going to have the time of our lives, oil slick be darned!

  51. Karin Whitman says:

    Like Kelly on Real Housewives said, “when life gives you lemons, you all make lemonade!”
    Loved what she thought that one meant, btw…guess the suits at BP would agree with her about what that saying means…
    hope you have a lovely time vacaying.

  52. I’m stopping by from Big Mama’s. We’re also headed to the Alabama beaches this weekend….oil or no oil. Have a wonderful time, and enjoy the beautiful beaches!

  53. cynthia says:

    Precious- you need to be at the beach. May was not a great month (and you know what I mean). I am blessed to have my entire fam here on 30 A and we are having a marvelous time. Although, the beach here is closed (meaning they are not putting out the chairs)today so they can take some preventative-just-in-case measures. There is something healing in the sounds of the waves and the sugar sands. Come play…you need it!

  54. I am currently staying on the Gulf…Blue Mountain Beach off of 30 A (shore road between Panama City Beach and Destin)…so far there is no oil here yet, though fingers are crossed and prayers going up by many….not just for those who love to spend the summer here, but also those who make their living from these summer months…hope y’all have a fabulous trip!!!

  55. We just got back from Destin last weekend from our annual family vacay and it was gorgeous. My heart hurts just thinking of the devastation it’s going to cause there and everywhere it’s touched so far and in the future. Its not going to be the same for a long time and it just makes me so mad!

  56. Amanda says:

    Oh so with you. We are booked at Seaside in the panhandle the week of the 13th….and I fear that we will be all oil slicked out of our trip….and everyday, I get more and more furious in a totally un-Christian-like way for all that has happened and how horribly BP has responded across the board. Total tragedy.

  57. I could not agree more!
    I have some of my best memories at the beach, and I was looking forward to doing the same with my kids.
    It just makes me sick!
    My son is so worried about all of the animals. He has been praying for God to protect them from the oil. (such child like faith!)
    He is going to be very upset when we go and he sees it for himself.

  58. please tell me you watched fnl tonight!!

    shu tears a plenty..sweet matt sorenson!

  59. I’m a conservative, but I was never in favor of offshore drilling. When I was watching the Rep. national convention, and they were chanting, “Drill, Baby, Drill,” I was making a funny face. Why? Because of this…that’s why. I love the beach too much, and it was only a matter of time before something like this happened. I hope offshore drilling will be permanently shut down…

  60. found you via we are that family today and your post hits close to home for me. Gulf Shores, AL has been my “second” home (aka summer vacation spot for the entire week of 4th of July for the last 30+ years…SERIOUSLY) This is the first year we decided to cancel. We just couldn’t chance it with our wee ones but I’m going to be so sad not to eat at Doc’s or the Point :-(

  61. I am with you! We went the 1st week of May and were so thankful it stayed away. I am so glad you all had a great time anyway. The news just gets worse every day, it is TRAGIC and it is killing me!! : (

  62. I think this spill is so devastating and if it was some covert effort by someone trying to break down the USA economy even more than it already was then it makes me ANGRY! They didn’t have safety valves in place and yet they were still allowed to start drilling? c’mon. Who allowed THAT??? I feel SOOOO bad for the people of the Gulf coast……I just cannot imagine it. I admire all you who are not canceling your trips and vacations. The businesses of the Gulf coast are really hurting and it will help them if people just carry on with their plans and bring them some business that is so terribly needed. Kudos to you all.