March 31, 2013

On the road from Clearwater to New Orleans

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We find driving with kids to take a long time.  Big surprise, I know!  We are learning that once we hit lunch time we all start slowing down.  If we can get most of our driving in the morning we will go far.  If we don't hit the road until closer to noon a 3 hour drive often turns into a 6 hours.  We get sluggish.  We also love to stop and see cool things along our route.  It's a tricky balance: drive constantly until we get to our destination or stop, stretch, see what there is to see.  We are still figuring it all out.

We made two overnight stops on our trip from Clearwater, FL to New Orleans, LA, but we tried to make some fun (often spontaneous) stops along our way.

Road trip bingo!  Kids loved it.
A county park in the middle-of-nowhere Florida.  We were desperate to eat lunch and stretch our legs.  The park was officially closed, but the guy in charge was there and let us in and gave us a wheel barrow to take the kids around the park.  It was lovely and I wish I could remember where it was.
Making lunch in the car while Brian drives.
A favorite, unplanned stop was the National Naval Aviation Museum in Pensacola, FL.  The museum was massive and packed full of very cool, old planes.  The boys were in heaven.  They have never been so captivated for so long.  I loved that the kids could touch almost all the planes and climb in several.  I would love to go back to Pensacola and spend more than just a few hours there.

Some more fun stops:

Lambert's Cafe in Foley, AL.  Home of the "throwed rolls"...yes, they throw hot, soft, delicious rolls at you.  Several friends had mentioned that we should go there.  We thought it would just be kitschy, but we had a blast.
The kids first Krispy, of course!  He liked it.
A brief stop in Biloxi, MI.  I think this will be our only stop in Mississippi.  The little white lighthouse in the middle of the main road seems to be one of the more popular sites in the state, so we did it!
Here's a 10 second video of me catching a roll...hope it works!

Next post: New Orleans!

March 23, 2013

Finishing up in Florida

Wednesday night was our last night in Florida.  Thursday we woke up in Tallahassee, ate breakfast and headed west to Alabama.

Here's a review of the rest of our time in Florida:

We spent 3 nights in a 5th wheel trailer about a half hour west of Ft Lauderdale, in Loxahatchee. We found it on It was easy on our wallet and a place where we could relax and decompress for a few days. (We are finding we need to take a down day or two to really just do nothing. Or more appropriately, spend time planning, washing the car and just running around at a playground.) Michelle, the host, was super sweet. Although, on our first night she warned the kids to not go near the canal behind the trailer because there are alligators in it. I think I was more freaked out than the kids. Other than my nightmares of alligators it was nice and relaxing, the kids could run around the yard and play with the dogs. I loved hearing the crickets and seeing the stars at night.  Those simple things are so good for my stress levels.

The church building was almost a half hour drive, each way, and had a very small congregation.  It made me appreciate my 15 min walk to church and the dozens of families in our ward in NYC.

A favorite playground (so far).  She's mastering the monkey bars and so happy!
Sunset in Loxahatchee.
After leaving the trailer we hopped between Ft Lauderdale and Hollywood beach for a few days (we stayed according to where we could find good rates).  We stayed in some beautiful resorts right on the beach and had a great time.

We loved the fun pool at the W Hotel in Ft Lauderdale.

They were like the birds facing the cool breeze.
Blossoms in Ft Lauderdale!
Playing in the Atlantic Ocean.

Hollywood Beach (and boardwalk)

In Hollywood we stayed at the Westin Diplomat.  The pools were quite amazing.

A funny door from the bathtub to the hotel room.
View from our window.
One of two pools.  The other one is directly beneath this one with a waterfall.
Morning sunrise with my girl.

After bopping around the resorts in Hollywood and Ft Lauderdale for a few days we were able to stay at, ready for this, Brian's cousin's husband's parents' house in Pembroke Pines (about 30 min east of Hollywood, FL) for 3 nights.  Carmina was an amazing and very generous host.  She made us tons of delicious food, insisted on doing our laundry and gave up her own bed for us.  She is Portuguese and has lived in the U.S. for about 10 years.  She spoke very little English and all we could say in Portuguese was, "Obrigada" (thank you), which we said frequently.  But we managed to communicate well with smiles, gestures, a google translator, and if necessary we would use Ze (her son who is married to Brian's cousin) to translate over the phone.

Simon loved Carmina, despite his solemn face.
Trolley ride through the community.
Also, on the trolley
  Carmina lives in a community for people 50+ years, so the ladies loved having the kids around.  Theo was a nanny in NYC for many years.  And she showered the kids with gifts and kisses.
This is what every meal looked like.  Always more delicious food than we could eat.
After spending 3 nights in Carmina's home we headed back west, to the Gulf side.  We stopped at Sanibel Island along the way.  It was another stop that was not long enough.  I hope we can go back there and spend a week riding our bikes around the island and do some more shell searching.

Then we landed on Sand Key in Clearwater for 3 nights before venturing out of Florida.

We bought Isabella these snorkeling goggles (they cover her nose) and now she swims like a fish!  I realized she just didn't like holding her eyes and nose shut while she was underwater.  We are now teaching her how to come up for air.  But maybe she's growing gills.
I attempted to take the kids to the water, but they kept stopping every few feet.  So we just played and they were just as happy.  I'm learning.

The hotel had tennis courts and balls and racquets to borrow.  Isabella loved it so much that we have since bought her a kid size racquet.  She's doing really well.  But she has a great teacher.
We just landed in New Orleans last night.  Hopefully I can get a chance to do some quick posts about our trip from Clearwater to NOLA.  
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