Monday, April 17, 2006

Florida Trip Report

Well after a short respite I’m back. I know that everyone is jumping out of their seats waiting for a trip report so I’ll do the best I can.

Thursday the 6th.

After a grueling day of work that saw me inundated with last minute issues, we packed the van for the first leg of our trip. Of course no trip is complete with out an “oops, I forgot my swimming suit” or any other number of things. In all we returned home for the swimsuit, my hat, and some gogurt for the kids. We officially hit the road at 5:58, 2 minutes ahead of schedule. Dinner consisted of various food items from Culver’s. The kids watched Space Balls and Short Circuit. We arrived in Paducah Kentucky at 12:03, 42 minutes ahead of map quest.

Friday the 7th.

We have a breakfast of biscuits and gravy at the hotel. We hit the road around 8:00 and head for Chattanooga and the
Tennessee Valley Railway Museum. We get there around noon, which is now 1:00. They had an interesting assortment of old railcars and other memorabilia but it was a letdown for most of us. The highlight was riding a train to an area that has a turn-about and coming back to the station. The real excitement was seeing all of this stuff through the eyes of my son. He was in 4-year old heaven. So we continue on to Douglas Georgia by going through Atlanta during rush hour. It wasn’t a great time to be going through but it wasn’t like driving in Chicago traffic. Anyway, we at a Shoney’s and got to my friends house around 9:00. It was the first time I saw his new house and now realize how expensive it is to live in the Chicago suburbs. He bought his house for $105,000 but it would easily get $250,000 where I live.

Saturday the 8th.

We slept in because my friend was doing a live remote for the
radio station he works for and we wanted to see him in action. When we arrived at the remote we saw tons of racecars so we hade to check them out with my son. Anyway, we at lunch at a Huddle House and hit the road about 1:00. We saw numerous signs for strip joints but I didn’t think I could talk my wife into stopping so I didn’t bring it up. One of them even said couples welcome but I think the kids would have felt bad about being locked in the car. When we arrived in Apollo Beach at my mother we found the house empty so we took a tour of the town. 5 minutes later we were back and so was my mom. We hit the beach for the sunset and had burgers on the grill.

Sunday the 9th.

Went to the pool and waited for my nephew to arrive. He flew into Tampa Bay and stayed there at the same time. We also checked out a new beach because the one by my mother’s house was lame. We had dinner at the original beach and threw bread to the flocks of birds.

Monday the 10th.

We went to the new beach and looked for shells while my nephew scoped the high school girls. We also walked about ¼ mile into the bay on a sand bar. Later that night we watched the Devil Rays lose to the Orioles at Tropicana Field. My nephew wasn’t feeling good so he left early with M, mom, and step-dad. The rest of us stayed for the whole game and returned about midnight. The only problem was that the front gate was closed and nobody was answering our phone calls to open the gate. My wife decided to hope the fence and walk the to blocks to let us in our selves. After a few minutes she comes running back and says that the house is empty. After calling my sister we come to find out that they took my nephew to the hospital because of his stomach pain. He ended up with a flu bug and a bland diet for the next couple days. When we returned, my mom was checking messages and realized she left the message for us on her home phone. I only regret not taking a picture of my wife climbing the fence. She caught a shoelace on the top and couldn’t get it off. I hade to untie here shoe to get her loose.

Tuesday the 11th.

We went to see the Manatees but were disappointed as they had already gone for the season. We had lunch at Beef O’Brady’s and went to a nice beach off of the Gulf of Mexico.

Wednesday the 12th.

Busch Gardens. We hit all the roller coasters and ate much over-priced food. It was the best day of the trip because we are all big fans of any roller coaster and my 4-year old son was just tall enough to take his first ride on one. The Scorpion is a smaller ride that has one loop near the beginning. He was wide-eyed and giddy as we snaked through the line anticipating our turn. As we approached our seats, the attendant re-measured B and confirmed that the top of his head is exactly 42 inches, thus letting him on the ride. As we accelerated into the loop I looked at his face. It was full of fear and exhilaration as we climbed into his first ever loop. The pure joy exuding from his persona was all I needed to realize that he’d be OK. When it was all over he was ready to go again.

Thursday and Friday the 13th and 14th.

Drive, drive, drive.

One of the best things we experienced on our trip was seeing an eagle dive into a pond to catch a fish. It was a thrilling event to say the least. We also had the pleasure of seeing a different part of the country. Driving through the middle of no-place Georgia and seeing old shacks from well before my grand parents time made me realize how well I have it now.

In the end, the kids did OK during the long hours of driving and kept themselves entertained for the most part. I think we will make the trip again around Christmas time but will fly instead.

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