With a recent bout of sickness to hit our house, combined with the cold (sometimes?) winter weather outside, we were confined to the house for the better part of February. I was starting to get antsy and dreaming of a road trip. My parents were making a trip down to Florida to visit my grandparents, so at the last minute I decided to tag along. Just me and the boys with NO husband for one week.
Justin joked with me before I left, asking, “Who’s getting the vacation here–you or me?” And while Justin did get to have more downtime than he’s had in a long time (I heard that he even dusted off the old golf clubs!), I still feel like I got a vacation out of it. I had one week of visiting with family and friends, NOT cooking any meals, and just in general breaking out of the routine which I was in desperate need of. I made it an extra vacation and didn’t count any calories on My Fitness Pal (which, let me tell you, resulted in some stomachaches from overindulgence. I’m surprisingly glad to be back to limiting my calories now that I’m at home). But I’d be lying if I said everything was smooth sailing…
We left at 8:15 am on a Tuesday morning and drove directly from Knoxville to Tampa, nearly 700 miles in one day. What should have been a nine-hour trip turned into a 14-hour trip, with more than a few meltdowns along the way. Everyone who has heard about me making this drive has asked, “How did you go all that way with two little ones?” Well, it wasn’t easy and it’s not something that I’m in a hurry to do again soon. If I hadn’t been caravanning behind my parents I definitely would not have survived. Each of our stops turned into at least 60-90 minutes off the road (because there was always a lot to do, like diaper changes and feeding and everything, but also because both boys were always very vocally upset about having to get back into the car again). We had a hectic dinner that night at a Ruby Tuesdays where Teddy threw all of his toys on the floor multiple times and cried loudly. Jake, not wanting to be outdone, also threw an epic-rolling-on-the-floor tantrum that ended in me half dragging him to the bathroom with him shouting, “No potty! NOOO!!!” for all of the restaurant patrons to hear. So I’m not exaggerating when I say that if my parents hadn’t been there to help, I would not have survived.
Once we arrived, however, we had a great time. And none of the worst-case-scenario events that I was worried about happening (for instance–my ancient, rumbling van with over 220,000 miles on the odometer breaking down) actually happened, so that was a victory! But there were, of course, a few disasters along the way…
One afternoon I was able to go meet up with a friend who lives near the beach in Largo. She just recently had her third child, and it was great to spend a few hours in a house that is very kid friendly (since we spent most of the Tampa portion of our trip staying at my Aunt Sondra’s house, who has rooms full of priceless antiques ). Jake had a lot of fun playing with all of their toys, and afterwards we went to Indian Rocks and had a dinnertime picnic on the beach. Because it was so late in the day, the temperature outside was cooler, the sun was setting, and it was lovely…until the seagulls arrived.
Now I don’t know who these people are who think it’s a good idea to feed seagulls on the beach. Maybe they’re out-of-towners? Maybe they think it will be a cute photo-op? But let me tell you, those birds are vicious! And when the food is gone–they’re out for blood!
Someone probably 50 yards away from us was feeding the birds, but he quickly ran out of food. So of course, they came to us–in DROVES–swarming our blanket and not being shy about getting really close (I’m pretty sure I actually smacked one with my hand while trying to shoo them away) and ruining our picnic! It was like something straight out of the Alfred Hitchcock movie. The children were all screaming (Jake already has that weird complex about birds after what happened at Christmas), I was shrieking like a banshee and trying to shoo them, and my friend Ashley was just laughing and snapping photos. After a good ten minutes of making the birds feel thoroughly unwelcome, they finally decided to leave (there were one or two stragglers who kept hanging around the outskirts of the blanket, but they weren’t aggressive enough to interrupt our eating). Then, of course, a woman only ten feet away from us decides to unzip her fanny pack and start throwing crumbs to the birds! When she finished, they came back to us and started their aggressive swooping and cawing, so we pretty much just had to put the food away at that point.
Other than the bird incident, we had a nice time at the beach. Jake wanted to swim, and I didn’t want to get into the water too much (it was freezing!), but luckily Ashley had brought a bunch of shovels and sand toys, so we were able to have a good time without swimming.
On another day, I had planned a trip to the Lowry Park Zoo, but everyone seemed tired and cranky, so we decided to stay close to Aunt Sondra and Uncle David’s house and just visit a nearby park/splash pad. It was funny to me that the splash pad was operational in February, but in Florida, I suppose that splash pads stay open year round. We had a nice time while we were there, but Jake was getting hungry and Teddy was ready for a nap, so we headed back to the car…to find that I had locked my keys inside of it. You guys, this is the third time I’ve locked my keys in the car within the last few months. I have AAA, and they actually told me that they’re not going to pay for any more of my service calls–that’s how often I’ve been calling them lately! Fortunately, my Uncle David was able to call Aunt Sondra to come pick us up, and he waited for the locksmith to come and open my van. So it wasn’t an epic disaster, but I definitely felt bad about inconveniencing everyone! (Jake must have asked me 50 times why we weren’t getting into the car.)
Overall, aside from my disasters, I had such a nice stay. I got to see grandparents and cousins and I was so glad that everyone could find a chance to drop by and visit, despite my trip being very last minute! After Tampa, we headed up to Tallahassee to stay with friends for a few days. No epic disasters in Tallahassee–just a trip to my old church (which is so nice for getting the chance to visit everyone all at once!), dinner with friends, and of course, a photo op at my alma mater. 🙂
I always have such a nice time visiting my home state! We’ll be back in Florida again briefly this summer. Justin and I booked a cruise to the Bahamas for our TENTH anniversary this July! I’m so excited! 😀