On Driving to Far Away Places. | Spring Break 2015

Remember 119 days ago when everyone went on Spring Break? Well, we took a little trip too! I’m just now blogging about it – because, life. But seriously, it was a week I want to remember and since my brain has been totally overtaken by all things motherhood I’ll continue to rely on this blog to do my remembering for me.

Dear internet, please don’t ever go away.

Ryan and I are always up for an adventure… which is why we thought we’d drive from Grand Rapids, Michigan to Orlando, Florida in a van filled with 1, 3 and 5 year olds. Here we are right before pulling out of our driveway. Looking good! Ready for family fun times! Wahoo!IMG_5889

Just north of Indianapolis we decided that we would never ever ever attempt such a feat ever again. Thankfully my Aunt Linda and Uncle Matt let us crash at their house in Louisville for the night. Yay! Relatives!

Here’s a bit of free advice for you: Rerouting through Savannah to avoid Atlanta traffic is a terrible idea. Here’s more free advice; I highly recommend stopping somewhere near a Waffle House to let your kids risk their lives by an icy stream.IMG_5928 IMG_5931

The last leg of the drive Ryan and I switched seats quite regularly in an effort to stay awake and restore our friendship. We’d do some deep knee bends, high leg kicks, give each other pep-talks and high-fives in front of the van as we crossed paths to and from the driver’s seat. “We can do this! We are going to make it! Just 9.5 more hours! I love you. Let’s hug it out. Ooh Rah!”

By the grace of God we made it safely, I’m not much of a crier, but tears were rolling down my cheeks as we pulled into Aaron and Tracy’s driveway around 2am.

I’ve never started a vacation so exhausted. Which is one of the reasons, this “vacation” qualified more as a “trip”.

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Florida Vacation – Scenic Boat Tour and the Lake House

Thursday morning I got to meet my Aunt Becky for breakfast. She is one of the most amazing people on the planet, and spending time with her is certainly a great way to start the day.IMG_1505

Later that morning Ryan and I went on the Winter Park Scenic Boat Tour with Aaron and Tracy. It was something we’ve thought about doing for a few years, but this year we figured there was no better time. Our captain taught us all about the houses in Winter Park and historical information about Rollins College and famous people who were students there or lived on the lakes. Did you know when Mister Rogers was a student at Rollins he lived in a gorgeous mansion off campus? Well, that’s the type of interesting information you learn on the Winter Park Scenic Boat Tour.IMG_1511

For lunch we enjoyed some brisket at 4 Rivers Smokehouse. If you’re anywhere near Central Florida you need to eat at 4Rivers. As is typical for someone nearing the end of their 3rd trimester, my meal consisted of a side of mac-n-cheese, some fried pickles, and fried oreos for dessert.

IMG_1512Later that day we spent time at Tracy’s parents lake house. I’ve never been swimming in a Florida lake before… but this one is lovely and we checked to make sure there weren’t any alligators before we jumped off the dock. We picked up some floats at WalMart and enjoyed a relaxing afternoon floating around until a storm rolled in. We played euchre on the patio until the rain stopped and the sun came out again.IMG_1513

It was a great day!

Air Boat Extravaganza

If you haven’t been on an air boat, don’t wait any longer! It’s one of the best ways to experience “the real Florida” (or at least that’s what they say). Tracy happened to get a Groupon for air boating, so we booked our ride and arrived at Loughman Lake Lodge 15 minutes before our scheduled departure.

Since our captain was running a bit behind schedule Ryan and Aaron went back to get some stuff out of the truck while Tracy and I headed for the dock. We thought it would be so hilarious if the guys came around back to find us posing behind this sign. We stood back there with silly grins on our faces for a long time before they actually saw us. It was not as funny as I was hoping, but Tracy and I laughed a lot at ourselves. har har har. Our tour was about 75 minutes, starting out with some high-speed cruising down the St. John’s River. About 2 minutes into our trip we saw a glorious bald eagle, which stood up, spread it’s wings, took off and flew over right as we were passing. We couldn’t help but salute. It was beautiful. I was too busy singing the National Anthem into the wind to grab my camera in time… you’ll just have to trust me that it was an awesome sight.                                      Our Captain found hundreds of alligators for us as we glided through the swampy wetlands. Each time we’d zoom around a bend or through a patch of grass a handful of gators would launch themselves into the water. We saw a couple of really big ones (easily 12-feet long) and we saw some newly hatched little buddies chomping away at some minnows in the tall grass as we slowly floated by.

Our air boat ride was exhilarating and full of wildlife. Hooray for fun times!

P.S. if you go to Loughman Lodge, beware that the toilet seat in the restaurant IS NOT attached! Just wanted you to know.

Flats Fishing in Florida

My brother Aaron loves to fish. He knows all sorts of things about fish and how to catch them. He told me being out on the flats restores his soul, which pretty much proves he is a true fisherman. The flats are an area of ocean where the water is 3 feet deep or less for miles. In many circles, Mosquito Lagoon (where we were) is referred to as the “Redfish Capital of the World”  Aaron has caught some big ones. He got this 42 inch guy (his personal best) in March. Needless to say, I had high hopes of breaking his record on my first trip out. 

On Tuesday morning we were out the door by 4:30am so we could be on the water before the sun came up. We stopped at a bait store to pick up a bucket of shrimp, the smell reminded me of the years I spent working at a Lunker’s when I was in high school. Aaron and Ryan launched the boat while Tracy and I loaded the gear and we were off to tail some redfish!

When Redfish eat off the bottom, their tails come up out of the water, which is why flats fisherman say they’re “tailing redfish”. You can spot a school of Reds when you see their wake or when you see their tails flipping out of the water… we didn’t see any, I think the sound of Space Shuttle Discovery Flying Over Our Boat might have spooked them.

It was incredible to be in such a serene place as the sun came up over the horizon. I haven’t seen a sunrise on purpose in awhile. (I’ve seen quite a few over the last 2 years from the nursery window while comforting babies… but those were accidental sunrise viewings.)

It was silent, other than the sound of birds chirping and an occasional manatee surfacing and snorting before meandering under the water again. Incredible.

 

Aaron used a paddle to push us around as we fished. After minimal success we moved into the channel and caught a few little tiny pin fish like this one. I would call it a “bluegill” but in Florida they’re called “pin fish”.

Then we caught a couple of sheeps head, which continually fooled me into thinking I was reeling in something massive… but once I got them to the boat they were just pretty little striped buddies. They had freaky teeth that look a tad too much like human teeth, which really weirded me out. Aaron’s phone has an app that tells him what the regulation sizes are for fish you can keep… mine were an inch too small to keep, so we just took pictures then set them free. “Swim home little fishys!”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wildlife was everywhere! In addition to all the local birds like Blue Heron and Ibis we saw dolphins, gators, turtles, dozens of huge manatees, hundreds of jellyfish, and then a flock of wild pink flamingos flew over! PINK FLAMINGOS! Our day fishing might have been one of my favorite things I’ve ever done in Florida. I got to fish with my brother – something we used to do together all the time growing up. I loved it!

Florida Vacation 2012

Ryan and I just returned from our vacation in Florida with Aaron and Tracy. I am so thankful for the great friendship I have with my brother, and so blessed that Tracy is his wife. Ryan and I always have a blast hanging out with them, and they were nice enough to let us crash at their house for a week. Incredible! Our week in Florida is becoming a bit of a tradition, here we were in 2009 for Aaron and Tracy’s wedding, then in 2010 when Ruby was a wee babe, and last year 2011.

My awesome parents took care of our girls for us all week. Being kid-less meant I got to stay out past 8pm, go out to dinner and just feed myself, and carry a small purse instead of a mom-size bag full of everything anyone could need at any given moment. I feel rejuvenated by my time away from my girlies, but missed them terribly. They’re my best little buddies. We talked to them on the phone a couple of times and sent videos back and forth. (The video quality is terrible because they were text messages I uploaded to youtube…) anyway, here’s a cute one Ruby sent to us:

And here is Clara giving singing her 2 cents.

I’m looking forward to sharing all the fun Florida pics and stories on my blog in the coming days. Until then, here’s a picture of Ryan in his rally cap. He is my favorite. I love that I get to be married to him.

Florida Anyone?

My family is HILARIOUS! Currently, all three of us kids are trying to figure out a way to get off of work, without any vacation days, to go to Florida for 3 days with Dad. he just called us up (except for Angela, he chased her down in a parking lot) to ask if we want to go. Spontaneous fun. Thats what we do in our family.

The goal: Do not lose your job
The other goal: Do not encourage your siblings to lose their jobs…eventhough you want them to go to Florida too.

It is highly likely that none of us will be able to go.
Mostly just fun to think about.

This is my family: