Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Florida Recap, Finally

I need a laptop.  I really do.  I could get so much accomplished if I just post about things AS they happen.  But lately, things are happening away from home so much, I just don't have the capability until after the fact, and then I don't feel like writing about them because something else is already on the table.  So, here it is, July somethingth...yes, I have lost track of days already...and we've been back from Florida for...a while.  Maybe a week?  At any rate, I will try to rewind the events, start from the beginning, and remember all the glorious moments of what turned out to be a fantastic trip.

3 Days Prior to Trip:
We discover that the air conditioner on our little Kia is broken.  Not only was I dreading the thought of a gozillion hours in the tinymobile, but no way in hell was I doing it without air conditioning.  After much stress and panic on my part, we decide to rent a car.  Speaking of which, go Budget if you're in the rental car market.  Unlimited mileage, even out of the region...they were the only one.  And google coupons--I saved almost a hundred dollars with a little research and a handy coupon code.  I am now IN LOVE with the Chevy Impala, and I really want Santa Claus to bring me a gently used one.

We left mid-day, knowing already that we planned to stop over somewhere midway.  That somewhere turned out to be Pooler, Georgia, just outside of Savannah.  It is on my to-do list to return to the Best Western Suites hotel that we stayed in.  Fabulous breakfast bar included the room rate, which makes it worth it.  I MUST have a motel/hotel with inside hallways when I'm in strange places these days--part of the anxiety that gradually increases as I age, but the $79 was well worth it considering breakfast for three was included.  I've been through/around Savannah, but have never really DONE Savannah, and I'd like to.  Turns out there's a shuttle bus that runs back and forth from this tiny exit off the interstate to historic Savannah, and that sounds like a great deal to me, too.  Tybee Beach is also on my list, but that might be another post.  We got up the next morning, refreshed and ready for the next, smaller portion of the trip.

Arrival/Day 1:
We arrived in Florida on Tuesday and were greeted by refreshing and free orange juice at the state line welcome center. 
We stopped and had lunch at Goombay's restaurant in Satellite Beach.  The name attracted us, being the same name as one of our favorite funky restaurants in the Outer Banks.  It did not disappoint.  The crab cake and shrimp po'boy sandwiches were fantastic.  The only problem I had at this point was adjusting to life outside the fantastically-cooled Impala.  There was no AC in this joint, and even with the doors open and several fans blowing, it was suffocatingly hot.  James would like me to point out that it was all about the ATMOSPHERE, which I get, I really do, but I'm not a big fan of being sweaty while I eat.  Or while I do anything, for that matter.

A quick stop by the beach for what would be our only view of the beach for days.  Andrew was so hot from lunch that he didn't even want to get out of the car, so James took this picture alone. 
On to my father-in-law's workplace for a quick arrival visit, then to the house to settle in, where we were enthusiastically greeted by Leon, the ferocious and tiny dog of my father-in-law's girlfriend, Brenda.  Cute dog, but he was a little psychotic for a while.
Doesn't he just LOOK like a Leon?
Day 2/ Disney
The Magic Kingdom deserves a post of its own.  For now, I'll just say that it was fantastic day.  Hot, but fantastic.
Day 3
The Camp Holly airboat ride and alligator "tour."  Turns out the biggest alligator we saw on the tour was from land, out in the water just beyond this sign.  But we enjoyed the ride tremendously and spotted other wildlife, although our camera wasn't usually fast enough to capture the various birds and smaller gators.

This cute little guy landed on the bow of the boat after we sailed through some marshy areas.
Andrew thought it was pretty cool that we just drove over much of the plant life.
After the tour, we split from the rest of James' family and went on a manatee quest at Goode Park in Palm Bay, thanks to a tourism map we had picked up at Camp Holly.

And, success!  They are odd-looking, but beautiful creatures, and I couldn't resist the urge to pet one.  Andrew's thoughts?  "They're really fat." 
I had worked up a thirst, so we went in search of the Florida Beer Company, which advertises a Tasting Room in the same little tourist map that we found so helpful earlier in the day.  I'm all about free samples, so we stopped by and enjoyed three or four half-glass tastes before each selecting a six-pack to take home and enjoy.  I liked all of them, with the exception of a Raspberry Wheat beer, which just tasted to me like Robitussin mixed with beer.  In all fairness, I do not like MOST things that are raspberry flavored for this exact reason.  Buying the six-packs directly from the brewery meant that we paid less than I'm used to paying for my eclectic tastes in craft beers, and you can't beat FREE samples!  I forgot to take pictures there, but Andrew was entertained for the few minutes we were there by watching the brewery workers, who amused him by "throwing Bat-a-rangs" back at him.

Day 4
We visited the Brevard Zoo on what must have been the hottest day in the history of the world.  Andrew was not interested in the animals for the most part, because he had seen this little wading pool kids' area at the beginning of the visit.  It's all he cared about for the rest of the time, and he enjoyed cooling off here on the way out.  It's a beautiful zoo, with shaded boardwalks that take you through the different regions, but quite honestly, it was so flipping hot that day that I had trouble focusing and don't really even want to write about it.  We took lots of pictures of animals, your typical zoo-type inhabitants, including "big" things like rhinos and giraffes, but I was dying.  You can see me in the background of this picture, just as I got third-degree burns on my ass from the hot bench I sat down on.

Aunt Lynn was nice enough to keep Andrew supplied with animal pellets and Dippin' Dots.
The coolest part of the visit was the alligator and crocodile feeding.  I was so hot by this point, I was jealous of the dead chickens they were dropping in the water.
Later that night, roller skating.  Turns out I can't do that anymore either.  Andrew tried his first-time best, but then was more interested in the arcade games and racking up points to spend on junk toys he hasn't looked at since.  Aunt Katie and Danny helped him around the rink many times, after it became  clear that I would be no help at all.  Those pictures aren't getting posted, although I made it around the rink two times, with the help of the wall.

Andrew was pretty successful on the carpet, although he wiped out spectacularly one time.

Day 5
Sebastian Inlet State Park--the beach, finally!  Although not your typical Florida beach, PopPop thought this would be good for Andrew, and he was right.  Located at the mouth of the Indian River, the ocean is just past the bridge and the point in the picture.  A roped-off swimming area provided just the right amount of wave action from passing boats, without having to worry too much about undertow and rough surf.  That's Andrew and me on the right.

A picnic area is located at the top of the beach.  From here, you can see the wide expanse of hard-packed sand.  The area fills as the tide comes in, and we spent quite a bit of time playing in the tide pool and wet sand around it.  The sand here was interesting--when it was wet, it was what I imagine a spa treatment mud bath is like--a smooth, pasty consistency.  I would have liked to have had at least one day on a "regular" beach, but this was very enjoyable and easy to manage with a small child.
Day 6/Homebound
There are plenty of details about the trip that I'm leaving out for the sake of brevity, but I'll revisit those later--especially Disney!  We weren't in a big hurry to leave in the morning, as we knew already that we'd split the trip again.  This time we stopped in Columbia, South Carolina.  The hotel was fantastic (have I mentioned that I love staying in hotels, no matter where they are?).  I wished we had another day to spend there, because there was a pool, a hot tub, free breakfast, and a luxurious room.  I typically like to have decompression days at the end of vacations--time for just our little family with no pressure or committments (or other family members), but sadly, we didn't have time to stay, and it was home to return the rental car the next day. 


TeeTee said...

the pictures are so beautiful and your trip sounds like so much fun!

Tobye said...

That sounds like a pretty amazing vacation. Can't wait to hear how Andrew liked Disney.

Tam said...

AH...YOU were SO SO SO close to ME! I would have drove out just to meet YOU GUYS! Pooler is is super close to ME! I use to work in Pooler! LOL I am so disappointed that you were so close! TYBEE ISLAND is were the boys and I go. OH MY goodness! There is a light house.....I also love Jekyll Island that is about an hour away or so but that is a great little place. WHEN are you COMING BACK? I will have to give you my phone number!!!!! I will email IT and you put it in your phone for anytime you are traveling this way!!!!!

Tamara said...

It was FUN! The Disney post is coming soon...

Tam, I KNEW we were so, so, so close to you--I was tweeting greetings to you the whole time. I had NO idea that's where we'd end up, or I would have gotten your info. beforehand. But we WILL be back!

alisha said...

You should definitely do Savannah. My grandmother and I spent Christmas there one year. It was amazing! Definitely DONT do a hotel outside the city. Actually dont do a hotel at all. You MUST stay at a B&B when you go to Savannah. Totally worth it!