29 July 2015

Celebrating Independence - Riverview Style

I know it's taking me a long time to blog about our vacation but we have been submerged back into (under?) our home/work/kid life again.  So, anyway, back to recapping...

27 July 2015

Memory Lane Exploration

So the place where I spent my childhood exploring woods, creeks and ponds with my Nanny (the name I dubbed my granny when I came on the scene) is not so much a paradise these days.

Everything is overgrown and it appears to have been parceled out - might even be a trailer park now. Sad to see our old homestead end up like that.

After my grandparents sold the place, a circus used to winter here. That was pretty cool to imagine elephants and lions living there where we used to ride bikes or hunt for turtles.

The trees hid the old pond...

We had tiki tables all around the pond and a lodge where the family would gather for special occasions.

19 July 2015

Alligator Ole!

On the way back from the Keys, Scott and I were discussing the lack of alligator sightings during our stops in the Everglades/Alligator Alley and at my mom’s place. In the 20 years that we have been driving down to Florida together, we have never seen an alligator outside of Busch Gardens….and that guy was too stuffed to jump. Like us most days after dinner.

So Scott did some research while I was driving and set up a canoeing adventure for the family at Canoe Escape on the Hillsborough River. The guide promised that we’d see between 10 and 50 (!!!!) alligators during our 2-3 hour canoe trip. Yipes! When Scott asked if they’d had any alligator attacks, he said only one in over twenty years, and the bite wounds received were defensive bites.

Later on from my mom's house I did a little more research and found this article right away and I had some real apprehension about the whole adventure that evening.

When I was a child (I had a fever, my hands felt just like, 2 balloons) I was in small boat in our alligator-infested pond with my 2 brothers.  When my brothers spotted a baby alligator swimming across the pond, they both jumped overboard to retrieve the baby gator.  I was left alone without a paddle (go ahead and laugh because I was definitely up some sort of creek), shrieking.  From what I have remembered for almost 40 years now is that my grandfather (PawPaw) jumped into the pond and rescued me.  This past week I learned that my memory was faulty. My mom told me that my PawPaw didn’t know how to swim (what?!). And my brother told me that HE jumped in to bring me back to shore. Whatever happened, I was scarred for life…

At any rate, I felt the need to somewhat get over this irrational fear of gators. And the canoeing sounded like fun for the family. Cost was minimal at $100 for 4 rowers on the shortest route (Trip 1) that takes 2-4 hours depending on how fast one rows.

Future Canoers
Not sure how to feel about this yet. I told them that red angers the gators like it does bulls.

18 July 2015

Northbound - Bloodline Route

So the whole point of going to the Keys was to visit places we'd seen while indulging ourselves on Bloodline... We had researched it a bit - locations to see - and we ordered them by exit route for us. We didn't get to all of the places we listed (like Alabama Jacks's where Danny had the fish sandwich) because it was too far off of our route and we had lunch reservations at Marker 88 Restaurant.

Marker 88 was not on the original agenda, but when I was googling "mile marker 8" to see why that was significant to me and Scott on the way down to Florida, Marker 88 came up as a highly recommended restaurant, so we decided to check it out for lunch on the way back to Riverview.


16 July 2015

Key West, Baby

The next morning was...not good. While there was a slight ocean breeze in our tent as I was nodding off, there was no breeze in the middle of the night. The humid ocean air coupled with the not so quaint rooster crowing (way, way before sunrise!!!) made it hard to sleep so I got up with the roosters and showered in the camp showers to get some relief from the oppressive heat. When I got back to the tent, these guys were dumpster diving.

The hen and baby chicks are under and around the dumpster.

14 July 2015

Key West Evening

So when we finally made it to Key West, we set up our tent and chairs, and took in the ocean breeze.

Primitive camping with no electricity for the fan we brought to keep cool and bug-free...

Chillin' at Camp in Key West
At least we had a bit of shade...


13 July 2015

“We’re not bad people, but we did a bad thing.”

During our two weeks in Florida, we finagled a couple of days to get away for a kid-free adventure. This past spring we got hooked on Bloodline so we researched some of the places that the Rayburns frequent.


12 July 2015

Sunday, Sunday (in Florida)

Sunday morning, we met up with my dad's side of the family at another Cuban restaurant.  My breakfast consisted of cafe con leche, eggs, grits and Cuban toast, but who cares? Look at this cutie with my sister!

Look at sweet baby girl's teeth!

11 July 2015

Florida Wildlife

In all of the years that I lived in and we've been back to Florida, we've never seen the manatees. I'm not sure why. During this visit we thought we'd take the kids to TECO Manatee Viewing Center because it is very close to my mom's place and looked like it would have cool activities for the kiddos.

It's a bummer that my kids' mother isn't more thorough because when we got to the viewing center, it was closed. I didn't see that tidbit of information when I researched it.


Going to the Chapel

At my niece's wedding rehearsal and the actual wedding it was hard to hold back the tears. Mostly because I knew my brother was going to shed a few tears giving away his beautiful daughter. It was only a few short years ago that my brother and his wife were helping us rehearse for and participate in our wedding.... well, almost 19...


09 July 2015

As Per Usual

The first morning of my visit, I am usually up early exploring my mom's place. I miss silly things like the moss!


And not so silly things, like the fruit that she effortlessly grows in her yard...


08 July 2015

We Made It

We were up at the butt crack of dawn trying to eat breakfast, walk the dog, repack our stuff and get on down the road. Let's just say that my little family of 5 is not as efficient as we could be. Luckily we didn't have anything pressing scheduled for Tuesday. We breezed from Louisiana through Alabama to Florida in no time at all.

Summer Road Trip - Day 1

We recently drove down to Florida for survived my niece's wedding, family reunions and fun side excursions down in the South. We decided to caravan down with my sister and her family early Monday morning after hosting Father's Day lunch at our place.

Fathers on Father's Day
Look at all of those good looking dads!