I'm not who I was.
We narrowly escaped the “bust” aspect of that statement. Our plans of how and when and where we were going to arrive in FL changed approximately 27.2 and a half times before our trip, thanks in part to illnesses and scheduling conflicts. We were relieved to finally be well on our way.
Day 1: Traveling was easy and lovely. We had a pretty awesome extra with us for the first leg of our trip, and she was fantastic for keeping J entertained. The only melt-down we had from Cheeks was at about the 5 hour mark when I was letting the kids pick out candy at a gas station. Cheeks wanted M&Ms, but we already had a giant bag of M&Ms in the car so I wouldn’t buy an individual bag. He hadn’t napped yet. Enough said.
We had the privilege of crashing with some friends whom we haven’t seen in a REEEEEEAAAAALLLY long time. J decided it might be pretty fantastic to have 4 sisters. We were treated to a delicious dinner by the grill-master host, The Rev got to see a pay-per-view fight, and I successfully purchased toothbrushes from the drug store… which if you had experienced the ranting crazy lady who got kicked out of said drug store, you would understand why actually getting the toothbrushes purchased was an accomplishment. (I’m ashamed that I didn’t get any pics from this portion of the trip… we haven’t seen each-other to speak of in like 8 years and I didn’t even so much as take a joint selfie. What in the world.)
Day 2: Jacksonville Beach… gorgeous! It was quite windy though, which occasionally resulted in surprise bouts of sand-blasted exfoliation. The kids had never been to an expansive white-sand beach on the ocean. They have only experienced smaller beaches on the Gulf. We couldn’t pass up the opportunity and we were so glad that we took the suggestion of our friends and went.
We then followed the beach up with more driving to our main destination… which was supposed to take 3 hours. But it took 5. Because there were at least that many wrecks. The drive felt longer than the first day (although it wasn’t). It probably didn’t help that my antibiotics were beginning to make me feel pretty crap-tastic. By the time we got to my parents, I went from “meh” to “blah”.
Day 3: The early risers went off with Grandaddy for a quick morning drive to look at the water and to get some treats from the dollar store. I went from “blah” to “blech”. I quit taking the antibioitics because they had me feeling so terribly, but the effects stayed with me all day and beyond. It was a blessing that it was a rainy, couldn’t go anywhere or do anything anyway day as I spent the majority of it either in the bathroom or on the couch, consuming little more than banana popsicles… and when I felt really brave, the broth and potatoes from my mom’s St. Paddy’s Day corned beef and cabbage (because neither corned beef nor cabbage themselves are known for their digestive gentleness). The kids had fun working puzzles in the Florida Room. My dad taught J how to play chess. This may not work in our favor.
J is used to being stuck in her room until a reasonable hour, so she has been enjoying having a fellow ridiculously-early-rising-before-the-crack-of-dawn comrade far too well. I improved from “blech” to “blah”… well enough to go on some minor adventuring (although not feeling fantastic in doing so). I survived and wasn’t entirely miserable, thankfully. The Rev was thrilled to have his own little vacation time and made the treck to see his beloved Detroit Tigers at Spring Training.
The rest of us went to Homosassa Wildlife Park where everything is native to Florida… except for Lou the Hippo.If you ask Cheeks’ favorite part, he will tell you that it was the sign about how the hippo might poop on you if you aren’t careful. Beware the spray zone.
For good measure, there was also a squirrel who had raided a trash can and come out with an ice cream cone, by which I was particularly amused.
After a late lunch, we drove to a dock. We talked to some vacationers who were fishing, who happened to have been on our boat ride at Homosassa, and who also happen to live not far from us. A highlight of that jaunt was seeing several wild dolfins! Cheeks just wanted to go to the island off shore, and he decided that Grandaddy’s truck should turn into a boat for us at the push of a button. Sorry, kid.
J has asked for someone to play chess with her about 36 times. Again, sorry, kid.
Day 5: Beach day! I improved from “blah” to “meh”. We gathered up the gear and headed to the beach for a day at Pine Island. It is a small beach, but it is a great beach for kids as there is also a playground. There were no parking places, but my father graciously dropped the rest of us off. The water wasn’t freezing (of course I still didn’t swim in it, although I went out to my calfs so Cheeks could go further), and it warmed up as the tide rose. J wanted to do real swimming but didn’t want to go far enough out where swimming was actually possible because of what may lurk in the darkness. One of our big accomplishments was attempting to build the “Sand Cat-sle” before it was overtaken by the tide. For the record, one should consider for how long one squats when sand castle building, particularly when one never squats for exercise. I’m actually sore from building a sand castle, and walking somewhat like a cowboy. *shakes head*
We took the kids to an… um… I truthfully don’t know what to call it. What do you call a place that is an illogical mesh of decades-old dusty souvenirs and junk, creepy statues that have nothing to do with anything, a dinosaur cave, a few random large antique items, and a bunch of animals (both domestic and exotic) that you can feed? Eclectic would be the kind word, I suppose. That’s not the word I’m thinking of, but it’s the word that I’ll use. Ha. But it was cheap and the kids genuinely enjoyed themselves, so I guess that’s what counts. I on the other hand couldn’t wait to get out of there… it felt as though I had walked into an episode of The Twilight Zone … or perhaps America’s Most Wanted.
Since we don’t see my parents often, my mom had made early Easter baskets for the kids and we had an egg hunt in their yard. Being that it’s flurrying today in TN, I’m missing the FL egg hunt weather.
Day 7: Traveling home always seems longer. We did run into more traffic, but no matter how much fun I’ve had, I always look forward to getting back to the comfort of my own bed. J is still on spring break this week, so we may fit a few extra fun things in on the home front. I was able to enjoy my own personal vacation fun on Saturday night when friends graciously offered me their extra ticket to see Pentatonix at the Ryman. (Actually, they graciously offered it to Brett who lovingly stepped aside and allowed me dibs at it.) Yes, please! It was a great post-travel de-stressor.
Thanks so much to my parents who were wonderful hosts and helped make the trip possible. And thanks also to the Rev’s parents who, while we were gone, came to our house and put in some hard work on a few much needed home improvements.
Enter Spring Break, week two. Here’s hoping it’s a break, and not a bust. Happy vacationing!