Top 6 Things We Learned on Vacation

This brings an end to the blog series on our Family/Anniversary Vacation to Florida.  There are a few pictures that didn’t make the #wilsongetaway previous blog posts or Flipagrams that I will share here along with 6 things my family and I learned on this trip.

Here are the Top 6:

6. Sharing a bathroom with 4 people when 2 people have their own bathroom at home brings to light all the bad habits. (I will now be intentionally reminding my son often to put the lid BACK DOWN! My mother-in-law instilled that lesson in my husband, I only think it fair to my future daughter-in-law no matter how far in the future that might be!)

5. “We proudly serve Starbucks.” Does not mean it will taste anything like Starbucks, and in some cases the gas station coffee is MUCH better and less expensive.

4.  Send a post card each day to your home residence from the location you spent most of your time for that day highlighting the most memorable moments/events.  Send it the next day (most hotels will mail it from the guest services desk if you provide the postage).  There will be some post cards  waiting on you when you return from your vacation and others will arrive as you return to your ‘normal’ life.  Everyone can enjoy the vacation just a little longer.

4. Blog as you go, then schedule to publish the following week where it posts to your Social Media accounts.  This lets you tell everyone about your vacation adventures without letting the opportunistic burglar know you are away from the house.

5. Keep your expectations low.  If you expect great things and the situation doesn’t live up to it, you could unexpectedly rob yourself of joy you were intended to have but let unsubstantiated high expectations get in the way.  (This one was compliments of Embug.)

6. Teach your children that “hole-in-the-wall” eateries are often the best way to taste the local flavor and have the best food.  Our kids learned this lesson time and time again while we were on our #wilsongetaway.   It will be one they won’t forget!

I hope you enjoyed this little blog series tracking our #wilsongetaway vacation.  We aren’t sure when our next getaway will be, but this one will linger in our memories for a long time.

It’s a REAL Beach!

We woke early at Hawk’s Cay ready to head up through the Everglades and along the west Florida coast to Marco Island.  Call it dumb luck, exhaustion at the end of an exciting and amazing trip, or just smart.  Whatever you want to call it, my family will probably call this leg of the trip their favorite.

Since the moment we stepped on the plane on this adventure the kids have been talking about the time on the beach.  The Space Coast we only had time for the Kennedy Space Center.  The Everglades… NOBODY gets in that water, unless they want to be alligator dinner.  Then there were the Keys.  Beautiful, colorful, seabreeze… but no real sandy beaches.  So came the term by my 11 year old while at Hawk’s Cay… “Faux Beach.”

We arrived in Marco Island at Noon.  My husband was already sold.  After driving the two-lane Scenic Highway 1, he was done with traffic and there was none…. HONEST!  We came in from the Everglades so the kids didn’t see the coast until we went  over a tall bridge welcoming you onto the island.  There was many exclamations of joy and excitement… over and over again, “Real  Beach, lots of it! Real sand!”

Unfortunately we wouldn’t gain access to the beach until after we checked into our hotel…and at noon, that was too early.  Seeing that it was noon, and knowing we all were hungry I turned to my trusty “UrbanSpoon” app once again.  This time it led us to a VERY local sandwich shop called “Big Al’s.”  It was so local that the cashier knew the name of everyone who came in and left… except us.  The sandwiches were awesome.  I have never seen meatballs so big or so yummy on a meatball sub before (I stole a bite from Kritterman).

After lunch the kids couldn’t stand it anymore, so we decided to take a chance and see if our room was available for early check in.  Off to the Hilton Marco Island Beach Resort and Spa we went, hopeful we would be beach side within the hour.

Luck was on our side.  We were on the beach in no time, reserved an hour of family fun on a jet ski and played, sunned and relaxed beach side.  Aside from the hour on the jet skis the kids spent hours beach-combing and building sandcastles.  I finished a book I started mid-trip (Legend by Marie Lu) and Eric enjoyed the lack of crowds and the opportunity to just sit.

After 5+ hours of beach relaxation we cleaned up, went back to the beach to catch the sunset and then enjoyed our only “Seafood Buffet” of the trip (the Hilton does an incredible Seafood Buffet).

On Saturday morning, all but Kritterman  arose to catch the sunrise on the beach and gather a few more sea shells.  We also got to see a scientist examine a recently hatched sea-turtle nest and learn a little bit about her job. While eating breakfast a storm rolled in and persisted the remainder of the morning.  We longed for a little more time on the beach and will definitely return to Marco Island again.

This #wilsongetaway has been a home-planned event that won’t soon be forgotten.  So glad we saw so much… can’t wait to return to some of the same spots again.

Cheeseburger in Paradise?

After a restful sleep at the TravelLodge we headed down historic Route 1 through the Keys all the way down into Key West.

We arrived in time to treat ourselves to a late lunch at the “Eaton Street Fish Market.”  A find through the Urbanspoon app.  While it derives most of it’s business from selling fresh caught local seafood and fish to those residing or staying in rental residences on the island, they serve a seasonal fresh menu.  On this day we sampled the lobster roll, crab cake sandwich, seafood sandwich and salmon (the only non-local caught fish) sandwich all served with plantain chips. The food and the price was a delightful and delicious surprise.

We proceeded on our Key West adventure after lunch.  We walked from the Gulf side of Duval Street to the Atlantic side.  On this journey we treated ourselves to homemade ice cream, Historical Buildings (such as St. Paul’s Episcopal Church), many art galleries, and the obligatory tourist stop at the “Hog’s Breath Saloon” for a cool beverage and slice of Key Lime Pie.

 

We did not take a trolley ride, as Embug was feeling the effects of motion sickness from the congested drive down Route 1.  However, if we ever venture to Key West again, that is something that I believe would be a great way to get to know more about the home of renown American author Ernest Hemingway.

Allligators, Mosquitos and Airboats, Oh my!

After a long evening drive the night before from Kennedy Space Center.  We ended up at an unlikely motel.  The TravelLodge recommended both on price and quality by Booking.com was a surprisingly great find.  Many may have turned away as it is a one story true 70s style motel, complete with drive-up-to-your-door-and-park access.  It looks very much like it probably did when these one-story temporary home-away-from-home motels were built.  However, for $75 a night, including microwave, refrigerator and free hot breakfast it is the deal of the week if one is wanting to explore the Everglades.

travellodge florida everglades

On the morning of our planned Everglade adventure we stopped for the necessary Starbucks (mom always feels better about an outdoor adventure if it is prefaced with a cup of Starbucks!) and then headed to the Alligator Farm.

At the Alligator Farm there were threats of storm looming in the distance.  The occasional boom of thunder and lightening didn’t deter us from our airboat ride.  We saw alligators and cranes as we progressed through the Everglades.  It is amazing how the boats glide over six inches to a foot or two of water and it is everywhere.  During the airboat excursion we were given the thrill of high speeds and 360’s.  The kids and adults loved it.  I think we would have stayed on them all day if we had the option.

Once we finished the airboat ride we got to see the alligators being hand fed.  This was a weeee bit daunting as the ‘gators’ seemed to have no problem crawling up the 3 foot chainlink fence that separate us from them.  Of course, we and the 100 other people didn’t back away from the fence either.

Within minutes of the conclusion of the hand feeding a downpour commenced.  In Arkansas I call it a “toad-floater.” We waited for a bit for it to die down enough to make a dash to our rental car and then we were off to find lunch.

One of the fun things about vacations is finding those not-so-common eateries.

Today was no exception.  On our way from the Alligator Farm to the Everglades National Park we found “Gator Grill.” A little road side foodie stop.  It had a lot of the feeling of a food truck.  To our delight we were able to get grilled gator tail and frog legs.  To Kritterman’s delight he was able to procure the best 1lb. bacon cheese burger he has ever had in his life.  It was so delicious we returned at 5:30 for an early dinner.  We knew it was the best ever and didn’t know when we might be back.  On top of it, we were able to teach the kids the #1 rule of dining on vacation… “The hole-in-the wall places make the best local food.”

It was still a downpour when we finished our lunch visit to “Gator Grill.”  Eric always knows if you throw in some wine tasting in with the nature hiking, momma is always a happier camper.  So we drove down to “Schnebly’s Winery.”  There we sampled wines made from avacado, guava, mango, and passion fruit.  All fruits common to South Florida.  It was a delight and we ended up taking two bottles from this most southern winery in the United States with us to enjoy later on the vacation.

Finally the rain let up and we were able to head into the Everglades.  The forest and swamps are lush with growth.  The Gumbo Limbo trees with their smooth bark, colorful crickets and quiet alligators were an astounding sight.  Unfortunately the mosquitoes were out in mass after the rain and ate us alive.  After walking two trails and attempting a third we jumped back into our rental vehicle. Mosquitos- 1, Wilson family- 0.

We then headed back to “Gator Grill.” The owner recommended we check out “Robert Was Here Fruitstand” where they graciously cut up a ripe mango we purchased.  We also bought star fruit and passion fruit to enjoy on the next part of our journey.  It was quite a lively fruitstand with a bit of an animal farm, John Deere Tractor collection and a dog who liked to stand on his dog house to get a better view.

Finally we ended the night at a FroYo shop near our hotel.  Surprisingly, FroYo shops are not easy to find in SoFla and with my family that can be dangerous.  Happy to locate our cool creamy FroYo, we were content and exhausted from an exciting day in the Everglades!

 

 

 

 

Blog Categories

The Wilson Family Stories from the Razorback Ranch

Follow The Wilson Family Stories from Razorback Ranch on WordPress.com

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 4,024 other followers

Stay in touch:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/kirsten.wilson.710
An Ethical Island

How to Teach Without a Lecture and other fun

JLV College Counseling

Free college admissions and financial aid information and advice

21 st Century Educational Technology and Learning

K12 educational transformation through technology

Connection of Dots

Stories about people and happenings and what they might mean.

Thrasymakos

True, he said; how could they see anything but the shadows if they were never allowed to move their heads?

Exploring Authentic Learning

Stories of family, faith, celebration, struggle and humor... #hogfan style.

DCulberhouse

Engaging in conversation around Education and Leadership

Always Learning!

Sharing education-related thoughts, insights & reflections

PASSION...PURPOSE...PRIDE

Stories of family, faith, celebration, struggle and humor... #hogfan style.

The Principal of Change

Stories of learning and leading

Unpretentious Librarian

Stories of family, faith, celebration, struggle and humor... #hogfan style.

The Sarcastic Socrates

Sarcasm and Politics

thesocialworkpad

INNOVATIVE IDEAS INCORPORATING TECHNOLOGY INTO SOCIAL WORK PRACTICE

Cool Cat Teacher BlogCool Cat Teacher Blog

Stories of family, faith, celebration, struggle and humor... #hogfan style.

Engaged and Relevant

Just another WordPress.com site