Mom and I are always scheming on ways to take vacations to warm places during the winter months. The last time we did this was two years ago when we took the kids to Florida. Lucy was about six months old back then and couldn't really appreciate the beach, pool and hanging out with family, so earlier this winter we decided to take a trip back down to the Sunshine State. When we started researching the price of flying we were shocked at how un-budget-friendly the prices were. We both hesitated to make the suggestion, but wouldn't driving be significantly less expensive and maybe - just maybe a little bit adventurous?! Soon we had Dad and Mike on board and began crafting our plans to travel the almost 3,000 round trip miles by car. We reserved a rental home with three bedrooms and two bathrooms close to where my Uncle Mark and Aunt Debbie live in St. Pete Beach and we secured a mini-van rental as our vehicle. The plan was set, shorts were purchased and sandals were dragged out from the back of the closet, but soon a wrench was thrown into the works. Mike has been working with some overseas customers at work lately and the company asked him to travel over to Israel for three weeks, due to depart April 1st. We were going to be leaving for Florida at the start of Benjamin's spring break on March 29th. Sadly, Mike wasn't going to be able to accompany us on our adventurous trip, but he was about to go on his own exciting adventure as well. So on the 29th we picked up the rental van, packed up the trunk, said goodbye to Daddy and headed out onto the open road. Our route would take us through eastern Iowa and Missouri, southern Illinois, the western chunk of Kentucky, straight through the middle of Tennessee and Georgia and down through east central Florida.
Even though we encountered our share of dirty bathrooms, people and fast food joints along the road, the ride down was very uneventful and we arrived at our St. Pete Beach rental at about 10:30 pm Saturday night - 25.5 hours from departure time. Sunday morning was Easter and the kids were excited to see if the Easter Bunny would leave them anything so far from home. Thankfully he was able to get their "baskets" to them in some great hiding places in our home.
Lucy was eager to play with her new bubble wand, so we went into the front yard in our pajamas and enjoyed the wonderfully warm temperature.
Later that afternoon we drove out to Clearwater to pick up Great Grandma Murphy for our Easter celebration at Uncle Mark and Aunt Debbie's house. And there for the first time ever - we were able to SWIM outside on Easter day!
The next day we staked ourselves out at a cabana on St. Pete Beach with all of our beach toys and water floats. The water was a bit too chilly for more than standing knee deep in it, but that didn't stop Benjamin from playing in the waves. The rest of us helped Lucy build sandcastles and worked on our tans - HA!
In the interest of not making one big huge blog post of vacation photos and stories, I'll stop there, but there is much more to come!