Weekly Wrap- Up: Our Trip to Florida

Really this a two week wrap-up.  We went away to Florida in the middle of the week so I decided to just wrap up both weeks at the same time!  I have LOTS more to say about our trip and will be doing up quite a few more posts with a lot more detail and pictures but this gives you a good overview of all the fun we had.  We flew into Tampa and stayed out on the gulf coast in a little town called Redington Beach.

We had some packing to do on Friday and a few errands to run anytime we were not out of the house or packing the boys were pretty much watching movies and playing video games.  We got a surprise when my husband announced that he had taken Monday off too and our vacation was going to start one day sooner then planned.

Saturday Ian headed off to work with his grandfather and I took the younger two boys to our library's annual book sale.  Alec and I each found a few books and spent most of the rest of the afternoon reading.

Ian headed off to work again on Sunday and the younger boys went with me to the woodworking shop to help my husband cut down some more boards to try and finish up our shed.  We watched the movie Gremlins and enjoyed a late night up.

Monday we decided to head to Newport and spend the day walking the town, touring a mansion, and walking a bit of the cliff walk.  We had beautiful weather and it was a wonderful day.  We learned so much about The Breakers mansion built by the Vanderbilt (as their summer cottage).  We ended the night with dinner at Legal Seafoods and a stay at the Best Western near the airport.

We had to get up at 3:30 on Tuesday in order to make it to the airport on time; not that we all weren't up by 2:30/3:00 anyway.  We were excited to start our vacation and even though I did get stopped by security over Evan's meds and had a nice pat down by TSA they were kind, respectful, and even a little apologetic so I really didn't mind.  Their job is to keep us safe and we made it to our plane with plenty of time to spare and with Evan's meds so I was happy.  The rest of the day was quite uneventful.  We had pretty good flying weather and no problems with flight delays.  We decided to rent a house for the first time ever and were thrilled that it was ready for us as soon as we landed.  The owner was so sweet and the house was beautiful!  With vacationing in the off season we got a great deal. Did I mention we were right on the water?  We had a dock and a beautiful view of the bay. After checking it all out and relaxing for a bit we went for a late lunch at Steak N Shake and did some grocery shopping.  Then we all watched movies and went to bed pretty early.

The dining/ living room viewed from the top of the stairs with a view of the back balcony

Our backyard 

Looking at the back of the house from the dock (it's a townhouse so we had 1/2 of the building)

Wednesday we had plans to head to the Lowry Park Zoo, but first we spent our morning at the beach!  The boys got to swim in the gulf of Mexico and we had a great time walking the beach checking out all the different species of birds and the various shells we could find.  We headed to the zoo late in the morning and spent several hours exploring.  We had perfect weather and a wonderful time.  We saw so many new animals and enjoyed interacting with many of the zoo keepers and workers too.  Since it's their off season the place was not very crowded at all and we really go to see everything. We stopped for some homemade ice cream on the way back to the condo and enjoyed a quiet evening at home.  My mother in law and I enjoyed a nice long walk on the beach and then we all cooked and ate dinner together ending our night with a family game of cards.

Alec caught the fish with his bare hands 

The sloth bear

Learning about the sloth bear's fur and claws 

They had a  serval out and we got learn all about them

With the weather forecast looking pretty iffy for the afternoon we headed out pretty early to Busch Gardens on Thursday.   Knowing my boys weren't huge roller coaster fans we didn't expect to spend more than a couple of hours there... we ended up almost closing out the park!  They each tried at least one roller coaster (and loved them!).  We saw lots of animals and even got to feed some kangaroos! It did shower off and on a few times during the day but since we were all soaked already from the raft ride we didn't really care.

Alec LOVED this coaster; I loved everything but the 90 degree drop (especially since they suspend you over it!)

My kids rode this twice; once was sufficient for me since I was completely soaked. 

Yep, we really got that close to a tiger; the cover of the cage was glass too! 

Friday my husband and I took Alec to a couple of art museum while the other two boys stayed at the condo with my mother in law.  We were all trying to take a relaxing/ easy day to recuperate from our late nights, early mornings, and long park days.  We really loved the Chihuly exhibit and while we found the Dali Museum quite educational we all decided his style of art was not one we tended to love.  We spent the afternoon at the beach soaking up some sun and playing in the waves.  With a tropical storm off in the gulf we had unusually hide tides and big waves. My husband and Ian headed off for a charter fishing tour around dinner time and the younger boys and I stayed home watching movies and enjoying a quiet night in. Ian had a great time fishing; he even caught a shark!

The Dali museum was even a bit unusual in it's architecture! 

The tides were so unusually high that our dock kept flooding! 

Our walk to the beach (the cart and all the beach chairs, cart and umbrella were included in our rental!)

Ian with the captain and his catch

We headed back to Tampa on Saturday to check out the Florida Aquarium.  We had a great time exploring the aquarium and even got to see a huge cruise ship in port.  The museum only took a couple of hours to tour and we decided to spend our afternoon/ evening at Madeira beach.  We went to dinner at Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. and spent lots of time shopping for souvenirs afterwards.  Ian is a huge Forest Gump fan and I think this restaurant might have been one of his very favorite stops of the whole trip; he even bought a Bubba Gump Shrimp souvenir T-shirt. We ended the night with some homemade ice cream and came back to our room to watch the thunderstorm rumbling off in the distance.

Can you spot the pygmy seahorses?  They only grow to be an inch! 

I could not catch any of the flashes on camera but it was a beautiful view just the same
We wanted something completely different to do on  Sunday and headed to Weeki Wachee springs for a kayak trip.   We rented three double kayaks and spent almost 4 hours on the river.  We saw turtles, a hawk, lots of birds and even a manatee!  After all that time spent paddling, swimming, and out in the sun we headed "home" for a nice home cooked meal of burgers... of course that is the one time we had a real freak rainstorm just downpour on us!  After dinner the weather cleared and we went to the beach; the boys were just thrilled to play in the huge waves.  I was thrilled we all made it home safe and sound (those waves were gigantic!).

We saw some truly spectacular sunrises from our deck

Arriving at Weechi Wachi springs 

My husband found a beach umbrella to keep us dry while grilling
They don't look that big; do they?

Once out in them many went right over all their heads; including my husband's! 

With our last full day in Florida upon us we decided to stick much closer to our condo and explore our area of the shore on Monday.  We started our day at the beach enjoying the warm ocean water.  We then headed back to Madeira Beach.  We did a bit of shopping, had some lunch at the Friendly Fisherman and spent most of our afternoon on a pirate ship!  There were water gun fights, pirate stories, a treasure hunt, and beautiful views.  We even saw lots of dolphins playing alongside our boat.  It was hot in the sun, even with the ocean breeze so we headed back to to the beach for an afternoon swim.  The boys begged for one last dinner at Steak N Shake and then we headed "home" to pack up our bags.

This heron was not at all afraid and flew right up to us; perhaps a bit closer than I would have liked... 

Even at low tide the waves were pretty big today

Madeira Beach; John's Pass

So many stores! 

We had a wonderful seafood lunch and enjoyed cooling off in the air conditioning 

Our pirate ship for the afternoon 

Looking at John's pass as we were leaving 

We rose early on Tuesday and headed to the Tampa airport for our ride home.  We had a great day of travel with no difficulties or problems.  We arrived back home in time for dinner and spent our night relaxing, doing a bit of unpacking, and checking on our animals.

The sun rising over the city 

Evan took this photo out the plane window; he loved all these tiny clouds 

We spent the day Wednesday grocery shopping, unpacking, and cleaning.  Ian had gotten a metal model kit while on vacation and spent part of the day trying to put it together.  It was tricky and he had a few pieces that broke but he is determined to try and finish it anyway.

Ian had a physical appointment on Thursday morning and as soon as he was done we headed home to pack lunches and head to my sister's house.  We enjoyed a day hanging out with her and her boys catching up on each other's lives.

Linking Up With:

Homeschool Coffee Break


  1. Replies
    1. They really were! We tried to cram in everything we could and soak it all up while we were there.

  2. I bet this trip was exactly what you guys needed! Just look at the sunset! You definitely made it a trip to remember! xo

  3. Wow you sure packed a lot into your vacation. Good for you, if it was me I would have lain on the beach all day. Those glass sculptures were very impressive.

    1. I am not a lying on the beach type of gal. I love to walk the beach in the morning and in the evening but I don't really enjoy sitting in the sand so that wasn't a huge draw for me. :)

  4. So many great things here. Precious family memories to cherish. The beach is always a great memory for me!

    1. Aw, thank you. We sure did try to get the most out of our trip.

  5. Wow! What an awesome vacation.
    Blessings, Dawn

    1. It really was! I don't think we could have asked for anything more or better.

  6. I love how many things you explored that are more "staycation" types of things for us, instead of just all the major attractions!

    1. Yeah, we really wanted smaller and more relaxing this time around.

  7. You got some lovely photos, and looks like you all had a great time! You managed to fit a lot in too! #fabfridaypost

  8. Wow! What a wonderful two weeks you all have had! The Breakers mansion looks so gorgeous! Your stay accommodation was Amazing! I would be so worried if I was going to stay there as my kids would totally wreck the place! lol! I never seen a bear sloth before. It's so cute! & I love your face on the drop! Haha!

    Thank you so much for linking up with us on #FabFridayPost

  9. Just catching up on some previous link-ups - what a great trip!! There's so much more to see and do in Florida than just Disney and it looks like you had a wonderful time.

    1. We really did! It was tough to pass up our bi-annual Disney trip and we even toyed with the long drive to Orlando to hit Universal Studios one day but we decided we just wanted to embrace the gulf coast and all it had to offer and save Orlando for some other trip. We are so glad we did too. It really was the perfect blend of relaxing and exciting new things to try out.

  10. Sounds like you had some fun family adventures! Such a pretty area - and I love that you got to see that adorable koala! Thanks for linking up at the January Take Me Away Party!

    1. It was such a pretty area; we really enjoyed it.


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