It is not every year that we plan a winter vacation to Florida. But, as luck would have it, this winter of all winters was the perfect year to escape the northeast. We made the long 18 hour drive to Marco Island in Florida (as far south as it gets on the gulf coast), and boy was that time in the car worth it! I hope these pictures make you all feel just a little bit warmer.
Moments after arriving, I took this shot of Josie on the beach. Nothing cuter than those bare baby legs on the beach.
And here is my 6 year old hunting for shells on a desolate island. We found everything from sea urchins to starfish to large Florida Conchs. We spotted a Bald Eagle in his nest, and then saw hundreds of vultures devouring a beached whale. We saw a family of dolphins play in the water about 15 feet from our boat. We even found this thing that looked like a snake skin and asked our very knowledgeable boat captain about it. Turns out, it is how shells reproduce, and he cracked it open to show my children the hundreds of tiny whelk shells inside. The catamaran cruise was worth every penny. And, as a homeschooling mom, I feel like we can check science off our list for at least the next 6 months.
Screams of delight came from my 4 year old when she found this guy in the sand. Turns out, he was pretty much dead, so we were able to bring him home for keeping. Unfortunately, he still smells.
On our first cool, cloudy day, we drove off of Marco Island and visited the Skunk Ape Center in the Everglades. It was a pretty crazy place, but for a $5 entrance fee, you can see, touch, and hold a bunch of reptiles and exotic birds. Two of my children were very brave. Yes, that is a snake around his neck. It went down his shirt too.
And here is my other brave one. This snow white bird wanted to say hallo!
And finally, this is what you hope happens on an 18 hour car ride. “Some people just aren’t cut out for life on the road.” (We tried not to quote “Dumb and Dumber” the entire trip, but I’ll admit it happened almost daily.)
I hope you feel warmer! If you don’t, just imagine 36 hours in the car with 5 children under the age of 10. There is definitely some money to be made in a limo divider for minivans.