Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Soaked up the Sun in Florida!

(I started this the other day but it's taken me a while to put the post together)
Well, we're back in FRIGID, ICY, BITTER cold Chicago after a fabulous 5 days in SUNNY Florida! The traveling back and forth was not my favorite, but we made it and had such a wonderful time relaxing in the warm sun. Here are details from the trip (it's lengthy, sorry - feel free to skip below if you just want to look at pictures):

Friday: my friend Jenn drove me and Eli to O'Hare in the afternoon (thank you Jenn!!). Ben was taking the el train from work to the airport, so I had ALL of our stuff (except for his backpack that he had with him). This included: 3 suitcases, stroller, car seat, peapod plus (kind of like a baby tent that is so much more compact and lighter than the pack and play - great for air travel), diaper bag, another large carry-on bag, and camera bag. When we pulled up to the airport, we didn't see the USA3000 airline on the terminal signs... it turned out that this tiny, random airline flies out of the international terminal in a really obscure part of the airport - and it didn't have curbside checking (which is what I had been counting on).

Jenn noticed a stack of luggage carts on the other side of the road, so I ran across, grabbed a cart, loaded it up with all of our junk, put Eli in the stroller and slowly pushed him and the cart through the line (a woman in front of me helped pull the cart, which was great). I checked in (this airline does not print your ticket - everything was handwritten!!) and felt lucky that the guy let me check 3 bags even though Ben wasn't there yet. I am paranoid about lost luggage, so I opted not to check the car seat and instead had it on my back in the Pac Back car seat carrier (which I LOVE!). I think I looked a little ridiculous though with all of my stuff.

Ben's train got in a little after 4 p.m., and he had to catch a shuttle to get to the terminal - then he had to wait in the line to check in and get his handwritten boarding pass, so I went through security with Eli (and ALL of the stuff, minus the 3 suitcases). Our flight was boarding at 4:45 p.m., so Ben really had to hurry - through security and then to the very end of the terminal to our gate. He made it in time and we boarded the plane... only to realize he didn't have his backpack. It was somewhere between security and the gate, and the flight attendants wouldn't let us off the plane to look for it. When we got back to Chicago, we called and luckily the bag was in security's lost and found. Phew!

When we arrived in St. Petersburg, we picked up our rental and drove to Tampa to stay with my old roommate Faye and her husband John. It was really fun to hang out with them all weekend! Faye is a high school Spanish teacher and John is in pharmacology school, so it was great to hear what they have been up to lately.

Saturday: We spent the day at a beach on Siesta Key. The sand was amazingly white, powdery soft and fine. The beach was super crowded, but it was just wonderful to hang out on the beach for a few hours and soak up the sunshine. It felt like summertime!

We went to church with Faye and John. Eli was fussy and tired, so we left early and went back to their house and took naps for 2 1/2 hours! It was a very relaxing day, and in the evening we had fun taking a walk in the nice weather.

Ben, Eli and I packed everything up (thanks Faye and John for letting us stay with you!) and headed down to Longboat Key. Before arriving to the key, we stopped at the Mixon Fruit Farm so Ben could get some fresh Florida fruit - we got to sample delicious orange and grapefruit juices and slices of fruit, and bought a huge bag of murcott oranges and ruby red grapefruit. Yum!! They even had my favorite Coconut Patties, so I had to get a box. :) We also stopped at the Manatee Viewing Center at the Tampa Electric power plant, but the water was too warm for the manatees, so we didn't see any.

At Longboat Key, we stayed at a place on the beach called Sun 'n Sea - nothing fancy, but it was perfect for us. We did the cheap route by staying in the smallest apartment, but it had a full-size fridge, stove, sink, etc. and a screened-in porch. The beach was pretty empty there, so it was fun to walk over and play in the sand with Eli.

We drove around while Eli napped and enjoyed the beautiful scenery. We stopped at the Siesta Key beach again and took a long walk up and down the pretty shore. Then we battled traffic to get back to the airport for our flight that evening. When we got home, it was SO cold - 8 degrees with a wind chill of 20 below zero.

I loved getting a break from the ice and snow!!
(But I still feel like I'm catching up from being gone... and I have zero desire to get on an airplane with Eli anytime soon :)

Here are some pictures from the trip:
Eli loved the sand!
Ben buried Eli in the sand... here he is kicking back :)
There were tons of college students there for President's Day weekend... not the most family-friendly beach environment, but that's okay!
Where did his legs go? :)
The sad state of the real estate market in Florida (and many other places) right now
Eli, me, and Faye
Eating some sand
John, Faye, and their dog Mia
We loved wearing short-sleeves outside!
Ben was in heaven at the Mixon Fruit Farm (he is such a produce guy)
At the Manatee Viewing Center (all we could see was the ugly power plant!)
Here we are at Longboat Key
Cute sandy feet
Beautiful beach!
Ben and Eli chasing the birds (the sky got really dark like it was about to storm, but it never rained...)


Beckie said...

so fun! ugh all that luggage! I don't even want to think about it...
I LOVED the pictures. How nice to get away and enjoy some sun and sand and the ocean. I LOVED the picture of Eli's sandy feet and the one of Eli and Ben with the seagulls...

Marci said...

The beach pictures are so cute! I'm glad you guys were able to enjoy a break from the cold for a little while :-)!

Wendy King said...

Three cheers for sun, sand and Diva reunions!

Rachael said...

Sounds so fun and warm. I love the pictures, as I always do.

Anne's Little Life said...

Oh how fun! Your pictures are so great. I miss the sun. I'm glad to see it's still around somewhere.

emandteem said...

Oh how fun...what a much needed break for all of you! The pictures are great. I must say I'm a little (or a lot) jealous.