It was a hot & sweaty, sometimes frustrating, patience testing, amazingly wonderful vacation. Over the course of 10 days I recorded a ridiculous amount of photos, probably not enough quotes and enough memories to last a lifetime. The 15+ hour drive down there was long and sometimes very boring, but not as bad as I’d initially anticipated. The poison ivy scare we had two days before we left ended up being nothing to worry about, so the only bad part about it ended up being how long it actually was. It seems like we did and accomplished something new every day, and I’m not sure I’ll be able to remember them all, but here goes…
Long bike rides around around the neighborhood – While much of it remained the same, lots has changed about Mammaw’s neighborhood in Astatula, FL in the last 20 years. For starters, everything’s not as big as I remember, but I guess that’s what happens when the last time I was there I was a foot shorter. Read reminded me of Chris and I as kids, riding recklessly, while still under control. Lucy peddled her shorty bike faster than any kid I’ve ever seen, building up some leg muscles to assure she doesn’t have “Dye legs.” Hudson and Elle did really well considering they’d never been on a ride that long, but I’m pretty sure they loved every second of it, even the wrecks and especially the trips to the convenient store for drinks.
Cruising the canals and lakes – Chris and I got the pontoon boat out on Wednesday, which was a feat in itself considering the canal was so low. A short ride that night was the first for the girls and everyone surely enjoyed what can be considered a “cool breeze” compared to the normal heat of the day. We took the boat out again on Saturday and made a day of it. We crossed a couple lakes, navigated some beautiful canals and stopped off for dinner which prompted Hudson to say, “I can’t believe we took a boat to get dinner. That’s so cool.” 5+ hours later we returned home from what was, Second to Disney World, the best part of our stay in Astatula.
The Magic Kingdom – The beauty of Mammaw’s place when you have little ones is the close proximity to Orlando. We made the short trip over to Disney for the day on Thursday, and while it was insanely hot and exhausting, it turned out to be one of the most amazing experiences and maybe the favorite thing for all the kids on the trip. The most memorable part for me was during the Princess Parade, where every Disney character made their way down the street, either on a float or on foot, Elle turned with such excitement in her face and belted out the quote from above. She got to see all the real princesses…and they were real just like her. It was priceless and so was the day.
The Beach – On Sunday we packed up and headed over to New Smyrna Beach for the rest of our trip. The hotel sat right on the beach and we split time between there and the pool for the next few days. Since we were only there for a few days, we made sure to get the most out of it. We rotated between the beach and the pool and stayed out as long as we could possibly take it, while making sure we kept the SPF 50 handy. While the beach offered fun in the sand and crashing waves, the pool offered some shade and a shallow end that allowed the girls to start practicing without swimmies. We capped our last night on the beach with a walk that could only be described in pictures.
Yes, there were a few fights here and there, but that’s to be expected when it’s hot and everyone gets tired, but overall everyone got along really well (adults included). We capped off the trip by stopping at Dani’s aunt and uncle’s place in Marietta, which not only nicely broke up our long drive home, but provided us with a wonderful meal with some wonderful people.
I’ll admit I had some apprehension initially for the length of time we were going to be gone and how hard that might be with 4 kids, 7 years and younger, but ultimately it felt like every place we left, everyone wanted at least one more day there. I guess that’s the sign of a well planned vacation and that everyone really enjoyed themselves. Happy to be home, but already missing it for sure. Maybe we’ll do it all again next year. Maybe.
P.S. Once Chris and I sort through all the photos, I’ll try to post a slideshow of the trip. And I did leave out a lot of details, but didn’t want anyone to have to read a novel.