We have had so much fun in sunny Florida the past five days! Our time here is coming to an end, so I thought I would update you as to all we've done.
We drove down on Thursday, June 8th--Woodbridge, Virginia to Sarasota, Florida. We got up at 5:30 a.m. and left the parking lot at 6:00. We drove in 4 hour shifts, with a couple stops for food, gas, and bathroom breaks. We managed to drive all 935.44 miles in 14 hours and 45 minutes! We hit NO traffic, NO delays, and surprisingly, we DID NOT get lost!!! Despite our amazing drive, I was exhausted by the time we got to the apartment we're staying in. We dragged our stuff in and went to bed around 10:00 p.m.
Part of what is making this trip possible, is the FREE accommodations! My grandmother owns an apartment in Sarasota that she rents out during the winter months. Most people aren't coming to Florida in the summer to stay long-term, so she's letting us stay in the apartment free of charge for the 5 days we're here. It has a large bedroom, two nice bathrooms, a cute kitchen, and a good-sized living room. It's been so comfortable and a real treat to get to stay here instead of paying $500+ for a hotel!
The next morning we were able to get up, have a leisurely breakfast, and take our time getting ready. We made a quick stop at a nearby Publix to pick up some food stuffs, then went home to eat lunch and take a nap! I love vacations.
My grandmother lives in a retirement home just north of Sarasota, so we went over to visit her mid-afternoon. She showed us around the complex (which is amazingly nice!) and we had dinner in one of their dinning rooms. I haven't seen Gram since 2006 (4 years ago), so it was wonderful getting to spend time with her again. She's also never met Matt and I was glad to introduce him!
The next day, Saturday, we went to one of my favorite Florida places: the flea market!! I didn't buy anything besides lunch, but it's fun walking through the long halls and seeing what the vendors have out. We almost bought two cute puppies that were for sale...but then thought that a 12 hour car ride probably wouldn't be best for them.
We returned to the apartment and looked up a place to eat for dinner. The Lobster Pot was down near the beach, so we decided to eat before heading to the beach for an evening walk. It had been a hot day, but by the time we got to the beach, the weather was perfect. We walked about a mile down the beach before turning around, enjoying the surf washing over our feet. There were some fun shells, a snail, and a sand dollar! It still looked like this when we found it:
But we put it in a bowl with water and bleach once we got home and now it looks like this:
Hopefully we can frame it or put it up in our bedroom somewhere :-)
Sunday we got up and drove up to Tampa (about an hour north) to visit Matt's parents and his aunt and uncle. His parents were in town for part of his mom's class requirements (she's getting her PhD) and his aunt and uncle live in St. Pete. We had lunch and caught up a bit. I was tired by mid-afternoon--my allergies were acting up and just wore me out. We relaxed awhile when we got back to Sarasota and then ate at a Mexican restaurant for dinner. We swam in the apartment pool that evening and began considering moving to Florida.
On Monday we drove down to the Mote Marina on the Sarasota Bay. We signed up for a Bay excursion, which took you out on a boat with a marine biologist. They told us about some of the fancy houses on the Bay (there's one on sale for $7 mil....) and about the wildlife in the area. We saw several dolphins and lots of birds. There was a spoonbill bird on one of the islands which is apparently rare to see in Florida. The biologist said only about 900 nesting pairs are in the area.
Lots of pelicans!
They took us to a man made island in the Bay and we were able to get off the boat to look around.
At the end of the boat tour, they threw a net overboard to collect some marine specimens for us to see. They caught several types of fish, a baby crab, some sponges, and a sea star.
The Mote Marina also has an aquarium with fish, sharks, and a giant squid specimen! It was a fun place to look around.
After we finished looking around the aquarium, we drove down to the beach. It was fun playing in the surf, splashing in the waves, and sitting in the sun. I'm not much of a beach person, but it was a nice afternoon. For dinner we used our Ruth's Chris anniversary present from my mom and dad! So delicious. My steak melted in my mouth, which is exactly what it should have done ;-)
Our last day in Florida was Tuesday. We spent a few more hours over lunch with my Grandma, then spent the afternoon packing and cleaning up the apartment. We were sad to go--the time went by fast!
Wednesday morning we were up bright and early to jump in the car again and drive to Dublin, Virginia--"only" 12.5 hours (instead of 15!). We had a pretty good drive, only hitting some traffic near Charlotte, North Carolina.
We're pretty tired, so we're taking it easy today. I'll update more later. Have a good one :)