So for those of you who are hating the cold and snow, I hope you soak up some warmth from these photos from our Florida trip as I take a few minutes to recap an amazing week...
My mom and I boarded a plane in Ottawa on January 25th, and it was note-worthy as it was my mom's first time flying!
Mom was a very calm and relaxed flier - much better than I am at it! Thankfully, the airport stuff that stresses me out went very smoothly, and several hours later, we landed in Fort Lauderdale to begin our week of fun in the sun.
My Aunt Linda & Uncle Paul have a condo in North Palm Beach, so that was our home base for the duration of the trip. They met us at the airport and before we knew it, we were "home". We had drinks and snacks that first evening as Mom & I unwound from our day of travel.
The next morning, we were up & ready for a day out on the boat. Their condo community is right on Lake Worth, so we toured around and they showed us the Palm Beach area by water. Anyone who knows me knows I'm happiest when I'm on the water, so a beautiful day on the boat was heaven to me! They told me to keep my eyes peeled for dolphins, but we didn't see any, nor any manatees despite many signs warning of them being in the area. Oh well! It was hard to disappoint me on this day. I had a grin from ear-to-ear for most of it :)
When we got back from our boat ride, I took a walk to explore the condo community, read for a while, and then after our "happy hour" drinks (one of my favourite parts about being in FLA was the daily "happy hour" drinks & snacks which my aunt & uncle served up!) - we headed out to PF Chang's for dinner. It was a great first full day in Florida!
Friday was our day to tour the Palm Beach area by land, as we went on a driving tour of West Palm Beach and Palm Beach, this time seeing Mar-a-Lago more up close.
Saturday morning we were all up early and ready to embark on a cross-state trip to visit our family members on the west coast of FLA. We went north, past Lake Okeechobee, and I must say this drive was a little on the boring side - but we had been well warned! haha! Lots of fields, cows, orange groves...but not much else. ;) Oh, I did see a few sod farms though! One in particular caught my eye. It made me think that we need some giant bronze statues of lions and elephants for the gate at Mountainview. haha!!!
It was great to finally land in Sarasota and settle in with the Draper gang, who had a house rented there.
We spent the afternoon visiting and gearing up for Miss Grace's early birthday celebration. She was so excited for her party! We enjoyed an amazing steak bbq dinner, and fro-yo birthday cake for dessert while toasting the birthday girl.
The next morning, my cousin Dave loaded us into their rental van and took us on a tour of Sarasota and Longboat Key. It was a cool and rainy day, but before we left, Aunt Marion insisted they let me out to dabble my toes in the Gulf of Mexico. I wasn't going to argue! Even on a dark and dreary day, being on Bradenton Beach and having my toes in the salt water was one of my favourite parts of the trip.
I have always loved the famous photograph of a sailor impuslively kissing a nurse in the middle of Times Square on V-J Day, so of course, I HAD to stop and get my picture taken with the statue depicting that moment! Thank you to Dawn for jumping out in the rain to snap the pic for me :)
We crossed the Skyway bridge to get to Clearwater... it was magnificent!!!
We were back to Sarasota by evening for a late dinner at Aunt Marion & Uncle Eric's, this time bbq'd shish-kebabs. Ohhhh the tastes of summer! Makes me look forward to bbq season! ;)
Monday morning, we were up and ready to head back across the state to North Palm Beach. We took a different route this time, going south down the coast for a quick visit of Naples, then back across the state via Alligator Alley. (Sadly, not an alligator to be seen!)
Once we were back in North Palm Beach, we stopped to get some fresh shrimp for that evening's happy hour, and we also had to grab an ice cream cone. Another summery taste! I had a flavour I'd never seen before called "Garbage Can" - I had to get it on the name alone! LOL! It was vanilla ice cream with 7 different name-brand chocolate bar chunks in it. Soooo good!
We were back in time for me to catch the last rays of the day at the pool, before we enjoyed our fresh shrimp during happy hour, and then spent a low-key evening after our busy weekend by ordering in pizza and watching The Bachelor on TV.
With our trip quickly winding down, I knew I needed to get some solid time in the sun, and thus declared Tuesday my day at the pool. Mom and Aunt Linda went shopping while Uncle Paul and I staked out our lounge chairs by the pool. I literally spent the entire day soaking up the rays, reading my book, listening to tunes on my iPhone, and had a little dip in the warm water. It was the PERFECT day!!
That evening, we headed across the street to the local sports bar, Duffy's, for dinner. Of course, I had to pause for a quick pic by Uncle Paul's convertible! hee hee!
And that was a wrap on our last full day in Florida!
But wait...there was still so much to do!!!!
We maximized the fun on our last day in North Palm Beach, as we visited the nearby "turtle hospital" - Loggerhead Marine Life Center - where they care for sick or injured sea turtles, rehabilitate them and nurse them back to health before returning them to their natural habitat. It was so neat to see. I kept thinking of my friend Brenda, who loves turtles. I imagined she'd have loved this place!!
Sadly, this beach day couldn't last forever, as our time in Florida was quickly drawing to a close. After a quick bite to eat at the condo, we packed up our bags and were headed back to Fort Lauderdale for our early evening flight home.
While I was sorry to be saying good-bye to the gorgeous weather and great times with family, I was also anxious to get back home to my "things". I'm a home-girl at the core, so I was ready for my own bed, my own surroundings, my own stuff. And yes... the snow. Call me crazy, but I really did miss the snow!!!
The trip home always seems to take longer for some reason, but thankfully I had a cute little wildman in front of my on the plane who kept me entertained! haha! He was trying to climb over the seat to me, and also kept trying to block my view of my in-flight movie of choice.
As wonderful as it was to get away, it was just as wonderful to touch back down in Ottawa in the middle of the night. We were met by my BIL Chris, and we were also met by... winter. Stepping out of the airport into that cold winter's night... well, it was a bit of a shock, I admit! And we ended up driving home in snow, but how could it have been anything else? Welcome home to Canada!!!
Truly, it was a fabulous week, and I am so thankful to Aunt Linda and Uncle Paul, Aunt Marion and Uncle Eric, David, Dawn, Dillon and Grace, Aunt Nora and Uncle Elson, and Matt & Cheryl for showing us such a great time on our first visit to the Sunshine State! We got to see so much in such a short time, and we had the very best tour guides you could ever hope for. I'm already looking forward to returning someday. :)
Thanks for the memories, FLORIDA!!!!