Reflections on a family vacation

12 04 2010

new mask

Kitten, Sydney, Lucy, Sam and I just got back from our family vacation, Sydney’s spring break.  This was a very different type of vacation for us as we stayed with Jenny’s mom and dad instead of our usual place on the beach.  We were in SW Florida in a very nice city called Northport, this was the center of our operations for the week.

Northport is a very good location for what we did for the week, which was to visit different gulf side locations.  It is conveniently located right off of I-75 and within minutes of beaches in both directions.  Our host’s, JD and Punkin, were the best and greeted us as we wearily stepped out of the Global Warmer one sunny Friday afternoon after the marathon drive down(22 hours).  This was also the first time we have taken the furry kids Lucy and Sam.

Let me set the stage.  A three bedroom beautiful home in a sleepy little Florida neighborhood with a 62 degree pool, a child that resembles a fish and doesn’t mind the temperature and four golden retrievers…yup four water dogs.  This segment could be sponsored by the pool filter company if I knew the name, each day JD extracted the equivalent of small Indian blanket from the filters…from the dogs, Sydney is not losing her hair.

We had a lot on our plate coming down.  We had to celebrate a belated birthday(Sydney & Sam, remember he is not new anymore), Easter Sunday hence the bunny ears incase some of you thought she was auditioning for Hef, gorge on fresh seafood, visit some beaches we hadn’t been to before, catch up with Kitten’s parents, girl bonding, man bonding, soaking up some sun and all around good times.  We squeezed a whole lot of that into our week.

Sam, the formerly new dog

We accomplished the above and more.  We made it the beaches at Englewood, Manasota, Venice and Sanibel.  I have to admit I really thought Venice would have been fancier.  Sanibel Island is a must see, very cool island and nice beach.  The sand at all of these areas was a disappointment, very corse and Venice and Manasota were quite dark.  I guess Anna Maria Island and Treasure Island  has spoiled us, made us soft, or at least preferring the soft white stuff.  This was our first year without a full sand dollar or a sunset on the beach but our first with a new treasure, sharks teeth.  We found a whole bunch of them of all shapes and sizes.  The girls did some shelling and we swam in the Gulf.  Sydney was more into treasure hunting(sharks teeth) than building this year but did some and we enjoyed a bit of time boogie boarding together, she is becoming quite the swimmer.

TREASURE!

The days we didn’t search out a beach we had separate agendas.  The girls went shopping…gasp…I know, shocking.  JD and I did what most men would do given an empty house, we had bloody mary’s and made a plan.  We discovered 3 nice fish markets in the area and wandered on fishing piers ending up back at the pool for the mid day sun and the swimming puppy circus that ensued.  Sam finally had his “aha” moment and learned to swim and was jumping in by the end, Lucy was jumping off the sides, Lucky did his one or two victory laps and Dixie, at 12, entertained with her diving skills pulling balls off the bottom.  Pretty impressive array of skills by all.

Feeling like a movie star

We ate like kings and queens.  Seafood, fresh from the Gulf is abundant in the area and the fish markets we found had fresh catch of the day.  We grilled grouper, shrimp, rock shrimp, steaks and more.  We found the local produce market owned by Russian immigrants with delicious veggies and strawberries were pretty much free as the Florida crop was late and came the same time as the California crop.  We dined in a couple of great local restaurants enjoying the local seafood and atmospheres and company.  I finally made grits, you know to go with our shrimp one night, cheesy grits.  They were good, not as creamy as Kevin at Roberts American Grill (http://www.robertsamericangrille.com/) in Red Hook makes, but good.  They were actually better fried in a pan the next morning as grit cakes, crispy and creamy, wondermous (that’s Cajun for pretty darn tasty man).

March Madness had spilled over into April as our hometown heroes, the mighty Spartans from Michigan State had once again made it to the final four.  Unfortunately for them they lost to a very good Butler team.  The games that followed were very good with Duke squeaking one out over Butler.  The Tigers opened with a win, we saw that on the ticker and we laughed a lot about the woman from NOW who wants a college football player to change his name, which in some obscure native language translates to man with spears or something ridiculous to man with muffins or something, too much time on her hands.

At the end of the days, we were all tired from full enjoyable days.  A glass of wine by the pool with some good ole music on the box, a tired little girl curled up in her monkey jammies with two tired pups by her side and we bid the day adieu. 

A great week, thanks to JD and Punkin for putting up with us and entertaining us all week and thanks to Sydney and the pups for traveling so well.

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