Wednesday, February 15, 2017

A Little Slice of Florida Sunshine

Most of my family and friends are complaining about this never-ending winter.  We've had a lot of snow lately, and many are saying they are "so done" with winter.  As you all know, I'm a snow lover, so it's not bothering me one bit.  Then again, I got a bit of a break from Canadian Winter just a few short weeks ago, so I guess it makes it easier to deal with!

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 :)

 I had no idea I was heading into Trump Land on this trip.  Even though I'm far from a fan of the current US President, and had a difficult time hearing of some of his decisions while we were in Florida, I was still quite interested to see his Palm Beach estate Mar-a-Lago (pictured above), as well as some other Trump "hot spots" while we were there.

(I was basically mesmerized by pelicans and palm trees those first few days. LOL!)

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.

We stopped mid-afternoon for a bite to eat at a place called The Sailfish Marina, and I loved it there!

We finished the tour by stopping at the infamous "Orange Store" that we had been hearing so much about from Aunt Linda and Uncle Paul.  There, we enjoyed the samples of fresh orange juice and picked up our souvenirs for family and friends back home.  When we got back to the condo, we relaxed, read some more (I was SO into my book, "All The Missing Girls" by Megan Miranda!) enjoyed "happy hour" and then headed out for a delicious dinner at Brio Tuscan Grille.  Yum!!

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.

One of my favourite moments of this night came when we somehow ended up talking about one of my mom's cousins, Merlin, and I said I always liked the names he picked for his dogs, like 'Whizbang'.  Dave said, "Yes, and before Whizbang, there was 'Spindlefahrt'."  Naturally, the kids thought that name was pretty hilarious, and Dillon started taunting Grace by calling her 'Spindlefahrt'.  She finally, quite innocently, exclaimed, "I'm not Spindlefahrt!!!  I'm PRINCESS SPINDLEFAHRT!!!"  I'm not sure I've ever laughed so hard in my life!

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 :)
After our quick tour of that area, we were back on the road again, this time heading up the coast to Clearwater, where even more of our Snowbird family members call home!  We had a wonderful lunch with Aunt Nora and Uncle Elson at their Florida home, and even got in a quick visit with my cousin Matt and his wife Cheryl, who live just a few minutes away.
We crossed the Skyway bridge to get to Clearwater... it was magnificent!!!
 Pretty sure Key Lime pie is a must when in Florida, am I right? ;)

We were at Uncle Elson & Aunt Nora's on the day of their grand-daughter (my little cousin) Madison's 2nd birthday, so we Facetimed with her back home, to sing Happy Birthday and send birthday love from Florida, as you can see in the two photos above. :)

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!!

After our visit at the turtle hospital, Mom and Aunt Linda returned to the condo, while Uncle Paul took me for a quick visit to Juno Beach.  I just couldn't leave Florida without some sunshine and down time on a white sand beach!

As I've said, anytime I'm on the water, my heart is happy, so I truly embraced this time spent at Juno Beach, and enjoyed every moment.  The surreal blue water, the brightly shining sun, the laughter of people playing in the surf, the relaxing sound of the waves lapping on the beach and the squawk of the gulls... it was heaven.  Pure heaven!

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.
(yeah... I watched Trolls.  And I loved it.)

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!!!!


ShannonJMc27 said...

Looks like a great trip - I'd LOVE to go to Florida...but NOT crossing that bridge haha! *shudder*

Nancy said...

It looked like a lot of fun for you, and Elizabeth, and all the relatives. I had missed your blogging, so am glad to "see" you back. Don't disappoint your fans!

Nicole said...

I would say a convertible is a MUST in Florida. Okay... uncle... is he Canadian and owns the property there in FL or is he now a US Citizen or how does that work? Sorry I'm nosey obviously :). I have a bunch of friends in Cozumel, Mexico right now, and while this has been an extremely MILD winter for us and we're going to Cozumel in a few months... I'm slightly jealous!