Monday, February 7, 2011

Florida Part 2

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I forgot to mention how our first flying trip with Hans went! I took this picture on our way down to FL where we had an open seat in the middle of our row! It worked out perfectly for us. Hans was technically a lap child, but we were fortunate that our flight wasn't full and could keep our middle seat open. I had brought along some new small toys and books that Hans hasn't read or played with yet and was going to bring them out if he ever seemed restless or bored. We also had our lap top with his favorite Baby Einstein movie and a new blue's clue's movie I downloaded. He ended up being so fascinated by everything that we didn't have to bring out any books or toys and ended up falling asleep as the plane took off in Chicago! It was a great experience but on the way back we didn't have such luck with open seats! All of the flights were full so we quickly grabbed the bulk head seats (thanks for the tip, kim!) and when we were up in the air, we put hans down so he could play around and make a little fort =-) . Again, he fell asleep as the plane was taking off so that helped a lot too!

On to the rest of the vacation. The day after Tom's conference ended, we jumped in our cars and drove to Clearwater beach, just west of Tampa so we could take a peak at the gulf coast and enjoy the sand and sun!
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Hans was really funny when it came to the sand...While we were walking on the beach, I was holding him, and he was clutching on to me for dear life. He was staring down at the sand and when we finally got to a place where we wanted to set up our towels, Hans started making this whining voice and clamoring to come back into my arms! This is very unlike Hans as he is usually a "go get 'um" type of boy that we can hardly keep in our arms! When we set up the towel, he was perfectly content to sit on it with his toys and not move anywhere. He started to eye a seagull...and this particular seagull intrigued him, so he began to stand up and reach out for the seagull....Welllll, one step on the sand had him begin his whining voice again and he was completely frozen and wouldn't move back onto the towel! It was quite comical! Mommy rescued hans and brought him back to the towel, safe and sound! phew!
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Playing with Daddy on the beach....ahhhh, I love this picture!! Those boys are so cute...I love them both so much!!!!
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By the end of the day, Hans was brave enough to walk in the sand...and I think he even enjoyed himself!
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(I absolutely love how Hans crosses his feet like in this last picture...He does it all of the time and it's so adorable. Just like an adult, he knows what's comfortable!)
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After the beach, we walked around the town a little bit and stopped into a few shops along the way. It was a relaxing and beautiful day!

During our trip, we kept our eyes open for an Orange Grove or something of the sort. I remember going with my parents to FL and I have this memory of stopping at an Orange Grove, picking our oranges, and drinking the juice with one of those special orange straws. Well, we saw a sign for Parkesdale Farms and thought we'd check it out.
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It was kind of hard to read some of the signs.
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And when we finally found it, the line was super long! The line was filled with locals in the area and other people that visited the farm during a vacation long ago and decided to make the trip back because it was THAT good!

What's on the menu, you ask? Strawberries, strawberries, and STRAWBERRIES. For real, that's it! The line moved quickly and with the options being a strawberry shake and strawberry shortcake, we had our food in a jiffy!
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This is where we ate our treats...super cute and super clean. We met a group of really neat local christian kids there. We took their group picture and they were telling us how lucky we were that we stopped by Parkesdale because it really is the best food around. We agreed! Yum!
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The strawberry shake won an award on the Food Network and it did not disappoint!
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There was a market there too so before we left, we picked up a bag of oranges and grapefruit.
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Check out those prices! Almost makes me wish we lived in FL or CA...almost... ;-)

As I mentioned earlier, our trip was extended by a few more days due to weather. After we got back to Orlando, we received the call (actually a text) from the airline telling us about the cancelation. There was absolutely nothing we could do to change the weather, so we decided to make the best of our extended vacation and packed up our bags and headed to the gulf coast. We enjoyed our day in Clearwater so much so that we knew we would appreciate a couple more nights in that area.

We went a little further south and stayed in a cute little Bed and Breakfast in St. Petersburg. The weather was absolutely gorgeous so after checking into the B&B and asking the owner for neat places to see, we decided on going to Fort Desoto. Fort Desoto was voted the Best Beach in America in 2005 and since then has almost always been voted one of the top ten best beaches. You can see an aerial view of the beach here I'm not exactly sure what the "hands across the beach" thing is on the video, but you get the idea of what the beach is like!
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It was a really windy day, but we were able to find a little area hidden behind the sand dunes...it was down right hot behind there and we loved it! Check out the next two pictures in sequence....
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See? Windy. What you don't see (but we have documented) is me running after his hat down the beach. I got it and didn't put it back on until we were safely hidden behind our sand dune protection.
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Hans wasn't afraid of the sand this time. I guess he just had to get used to it. He's my little January baby, but he loves the sand now!
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All of the beach playing made Hans tired!

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We had to. The sand was so perfect and silky-like...I had never actually buried someone in the sand...and it was fun! When he got up, the sand just fell off of him.

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Say goodbye to Fort De Soto!

We drove back to St. Petersburg where we ordered an extremely overpriced pizza to-go, put the babe to bed, and watched a movie in the attached porch to our room. Wonderful!
The next day, we took a trolley tour of the town of St. Petersburg. It was a really cool trolley ride with the drive giving you the history of certain buildings, trees, and statues along the way. The whole loop costs a quarter each! It's like stepping back in time...way back!
Waiting for the trolley to pick us up.
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And I copped an attitude. hee hee, just kidding! But I bet I had some of my family fooled (who like to throw around the word "persnickety" pretty loosely with me!) We were just creatively passing the time away ;-)
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We took the trolley to the pier where we visited the aquarium. Tom got some cool shots of the pelicans on the pier too. This pelican (that's tagged red) was a pelican that was rescued from the gulf oil spill and then released in St. Petersburg.
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The aquarium was inside at the end of the pier.
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While we were there, Tom and Hans got to feed some leopard sharks in their tank!
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We also got to touch some sea urchins and star fish. We had a lot of fun looking at and learning about all of the sea creatures.

All in all, we really really enjoyed our time in St. Petersburg and are so thankful we had the extra few days to experience that cute little town!

Our flight back home left in the morning, so we spent our last night in Orlando, close to the airport. After checking into our hotel, we returned our car at the airport and ended up spending most of the afternoon there as there were a lot of restaurants and shops outside of security. By the end of the day, Hans became good friends with Mickey there. We would say "Hans, where is Mickey?" and he would do his little speed walk over to Mickey Mouse on the wall.
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On our next trip to FL, Hans will be old enough where we'll probably make it a priority to go to Disney World. It really is a magical place (not just for children!) but we wanted to make sure he would at least have some recollection of his time there!

So that's our trip to FL in a nut shell! I know it may be hard for some of you to believe but that was probably an 1/8 of the pictures we took from our trip so I did try to narrow it down a bit for the blog!

And thanks to my hubby who is upstairs getting dinner ready! He said, go downstairs, relax, and get caught up on your blog!!!!

Happy Valentine's Day!!!!!

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