Thursday, February 20, 2014

Adventures in South Florida

Silas and I went on a mini-vacation down to south Florida to visit some friends. The five hour car trip is now officially the longest distance I have driven with Silas by myself. It wasn't even that bad. On the way down, he was on the cusp of a nap for about two hours, and kept crying out "nurse please!" but when I did stop, he was too excited by the trip to actually nurse. Oh well.

He doesn't sleep very well when we're traveling, so our days became sort of weird. Normally we're up by seven-thirty on a good day. He decided to bring that back about an hour and a half. And once he was awake, he woke up our friend's kid too. So we would have breakfast, let the kids play for a bit, head to the park, let them run around for awhile, get back home and it would still only be ten in the morning!

The first day down, we headed into Ft. Myers proper to see the Edison Festival of Lights. The parade was billed as an amazing nighttime parade and there were people lining the streets so thickly that the kids wouldn't have been able to see anything. Apparently people go down and tape off sections of the sidewalk up to a week in advance to get a spot.

But here's the thing. The parade kind of sucked.

I don't know how they do paraded by you, but where I'm from, a parade starts within five minutes or so of the start time and proceeds in an orderly fashion - you have your fire trucks and police cars and high school bands and cute floats, interspersed with Shriners on tiny motorcycles and the occasional baton twirling brigade.

This parade was supposed to start at seven. At seven, one single police car raced through the street. Silence. Ten minutes later, there were a few marching color guards. Ten minutes later, there were more fire trucks and police cars than I've ever seen in a parade before. Maybe I'm a buzzkill, but to me, three or four of each is sufficient to wow the children and start a parade. They had a small fleet of ten to fifteen of each.

Then another ten minute wait. Then another color guard and some cheesy floats and some politicians in cars. Since it was dark out, it was hard to see who was who and why they were there.

The highlight of the parade was seeing the Clydesdale horses. They were amazingly huge and followed by some ponies that looked like Sophie and Sherlock in comparison.

After that, we ended up leaving. The fireworks were nice though and walking around downtown had been pleasant.

The next day was a jet-setting kind of day. After hitting the parks in the morning, we made cookies and headed to the neighborhood luau (where we later learned up to 100 people had attended). Between me and my friend and our two kids, we probably brought the mean age down to, oh, fifty. But don't get me wrong - everyone was nice to us. We sat by an inflatable palm tree and Silas refused to wear his lei and we cheered on some people playing cornhole.

From there, we realized it was already four in the afternoon and it was a mad dash to the Greek festival to see the dancing and get some baklava. The kids were less impressed by this, so we didn't stay long, but it was still fun.

The best day was Monday. We went to the aquarium and the beach. There was a slight hitch to our plans - none of us realized it was President's day, so the aquarium and the beach were significantly more crowded.

At the aquarium, Silas enjoyed looking at all of the different sea creatures. His favorites were the manatees and the clown fish. For some reason, when he saw the clown fish, he had to point to each one and say "fish!" even though we had passed by many other fish already. There was also an area with giant plastic models of some coral and fish (they were ten times bigger than life-sized) and Silas stared up in awe at the towering coral.

We packed up and headed towards the beach near noon. Oh, the beach. Our first indication that we were screwed came about the time we pulled into the parking lot and realized that every spot was full and every row was full of lines of cars waiting for a spot to open up. We were optimistic at first, but by the third time a parking spot opened up JUST behind us while we waited behind someone waiting for a person to back out, we gave up. We went to Publix for lunch. This Publix didn't have any seating or benches, so we had an impromptu picnic on the sidewalk. The kids seemed to enjoy it and it beat trying to feed two young kids in their carseats.

Being gluttons for punishment, we headed back to the beach after lunch. I like to call it eternal optimism. And guess what? There were parking spots! Whew. Plus, we had only missed out on the extra strong middle of the day UV rays, so our skin was safer anyhow. (Always a bright side). Even better? Running on the beach for a couple hours wore out the kids so much that they slept on the way home, and after dinner, Silas slept from 8:30 to 5. That was the first time he's ever slept so well away from home. I would have rejoiced, but I stayed up until 11 to watch ice dancing (mostly worth it!) and waking up at 5 was still a bit rough on me.

The drive home was much better than the drive down. Silas napped for most of the trip to be honest. I think he was still worn out from the beach. Traffic was light most of the way and the weather was good, though I admit I prefer a bit of an overcast sky during a long drive.

I hope to go down and visit again in March and coming up shortly after that, we'll be heading down south again when Smiley runs in the Tough Mudder with some friends. I can only hope Silas will continue his positive trend of kind of sleeping better while we're away!

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