my stepdad has a tremendous knack for finding last-minute-spring-break-vacation-deals.
originally, when my mom and stepdad purchased their home-away-from-home in pentwater, michigan a couple of years ago, the agreement was that in exchange for taking on another mortgage, they would give up their annual trips down south for spring break to the florida keys. a hard bargain for certain, but financially, it made the most sense.
this arrangement lasted for "awhile." awhile...until march that next year.
until the school teacher crazies get the best of you (both are high school teachers) and the michigan winter won't stop sucking and it's time to get outta' dodge. like now.
so my tech savvy stepdad (not really at all but he dubs himself to be the only one who can find vacation spots) hops on over to VRBO and a few clicks, a few emails, a few calls later, he presents my mother with an offer she just can't refuse. "not sure what you're going to do dear, but me and marzy are going to florida." (marzy is their golden retriever who has become quite the travel diva in her five short years of life).
and this year, we got to partake in the spring break wheelin' and dealin'. in march, (as we can now predict will happen and thankfully my mom has just comes to terms with it) he announced they were headed to florida and asked if we would want to come with. he found a huge house with a private pool, near-ish the ocean, 85 degree weather guaranteed, for just $400 if we split it and before they finished their question david and i looked at each other and were like YUP, WE'RE GOING.
we would have to drive the 19 hour one-way trip to save money (aka: be able to go at all), but that was ok because we just made the trip down to texas over christmas so we basically considered ourselves experts at this point.
and wham bam thank you 'mam and it was one month later and vacation time was requested, dogs were doggysitted up, summer garb was dugged out, coolers were packed and we were ready head to the sunshine state. side note: i feel like i should make all of my vacation plans this way. much less waiting and anticipation and you basically blink and you're trip date arrives.
24 hours, one and a half books on tape, 12 questionable gas station bathrooms and a few torrential rain storms later, we arrived.
i still haven't decided whether the drive-through-the-night method is that great. sure, it gets you there "faster". yes, it saves you money on a hotel. surely, it saves you daytime driving in the car with your kids which basically is a form of torture. BUT. you also sacrifice any kind of cognitive function for the first 1.5 days of your vacation. and this, i am not sure is worth the hassle. at least for me.
because of said driving "hangover", we lounged poolside pretty much the first three days of our stay. no exaggerating. we did venture out for dinner (the area we decided to "splurge" on this trip), and we are a humungo seafood loving family so good, local food was necessary.
i had aspirations for making excursions to do some stand-up-paddle-boarding, charter boat riding, zoo-visiting, etc., but all of that kinda went by the wayside once we got there. it was just too. darn. relaxing vedging out, with no itinerary or agenda - than to worry about filling our time with stuff to do. other than what time the girls could get in the pool, when we were going to nap and what we were going to eat, not much else went into the planning of our days. and it was perfect.
we did end up doing a few fun trips out, however. one day we made the hour-ish drive north to the infamous siesta key beach with "the world's finest, whitest sand." it truly was beautiful. and after a long day in the sun, we headed into the cozy little beach town and ate at my fave place of the week - siesta key oyster bar.
another fun outing was when we drove up the manasota key, admired the multi-million dollar houses, and landed at sharky's on the pier for happy hour drinks and snacks, and a walk on the pier.
the last day we visited englewood beach, which we learned is famous for its shark teeth (we even found some!). i thought there were a bunch of golfers hanging out at the beach, but it turns out the "golf clubs" were actually sand sifters - for shelling, and shark teeth finding. i watched them all for a bit - wandering the shoreline - digging around a bit. not long after watching, i was digging too.
englewood was a cute town. off the tourist path...like, way off. like no disney or shamu for miles and miles and miles. and most of the people we saw were well into retirement age. but that worked for us. it was quiet, offered great spots to eat seafood, and lots of great views within driving distance. most of all, it offered us a place to completely unwind. to relax and recharge. and that to me, is a vacation.
here was my facebook post (summing up my feelings about it all) from the day before leaving:
"in the last seven days:
i've eaten shrimp everyday.
i've woken up sans alarm at 7:30am to retrieve a fresh cup of coffee and read from my book in the first day's sunlight, every morning.
i haven't worn a bra, and haven't brushed my hair.
i have watched my kids swim for hours in the pool, and dance in the waves of the ocean for the first time.
i've watched approximately 5 minutes of tv. (ok, except for when david and i had a borat binge one evening...verynicehowmuch)
i have spent some amazing (upmost quality) days with my family - exploring new places, drinking new beer, smiling in the sunshine and reveling in every moment this vacation has given us.
to say i am sad to return home tomorrow is an understatement, but i am so - so - happy to have had this week. we lived it up, drank it down and thanks to the photos, we'll be taking our vacation memories home with us forevs."
and below, some photos with my "good camera" from our trip. one of my goals, other than reading five books which did not happen (three though if you count the two on tape), was to take pictures without my phone, with my REAL CAMERA. i wasn't feeling daring enough to bring my third baby everywhere - much due to the massive amounts of sand and ocean all around), but when i did take it out, i tried to make the moments worth it.
and, i am pretty happy with i got. #radrunningfamilyvacay forever.
p.s. i would like to take a moment to thank my ever-awesome parents who totes gave up a week of barbie-doll-tantrum-splash-zone-less romantical bliss in order for us to join in the fun. much love to you both. xoxo