On a whim, T & I decided on a return trip to the sunshine state about three days after returning from Florida earlier this spring. My cousin C was graduating from high school, and we were lucky enough to be able to return to attend her pool side party. My family has always been close, taking family vacations together when my cousins and I were younger, spending weekends at the lake together, and attending important life events when it works out, so when we got the invitation in the mail, we knew that we would at least try to fit it into our schedule. I'm not going to lie, we may have had to bribe T's coworker with German chocolate cupcakes in order to finagle some work schedule conflicts in order to make this trip happen!
This picture cracks me up. Notice the flight attendant photo bombing in the background. Looks like he saw C coming and he was about to call it quits for the day!
We had already been looking at a visit out to Denver the weekend after the graduation party, so when it happened to line up with a good set of flights based from Sioux Falls, we booked our puddle jumping trip from Sioux Falls - St. Petersburg, Tampa - Denver, and finally Denver - Sioux Falls. Woo Hoo for discount airlines, free lap child tickets, luggage allowances for traveling with kiddos, and direct flights to all of our destinations! That being said, I did splurge...just a little...and opted for seats near the front of our planes with extra leg room. Soooo worth it when traveling with a LARGE lap child who has become more active on a daily basis this last few months! As you can see, C was none to pleased about thinking he had to sit in a seat all by himself! He was much more happy to be sitting on our laps and reading the safety manual or closing the window shade. See my other travel must haves for traveling with a baby here.
After a whirlwind day of traveling, we arrived safe and sound in Florida mid-afternoon, and got right into the swing of things with my cousin's graduation party. It was lots of fun to be on a family vacation with the whole family (minus a couple of my siblings), and C was absolutely loving all of the attention from my many blonde cousins.
The first morning of our visit, after practicing walking with Grandma J and Grandpa T, we headed out to the beach for a little sand between our toes. C got to do some great people and bird watching from the shade of the stroller, and even got to dip his toes in the ocean for a cool down mid way through. I will say, the weather in early June was a little too warm for comfort for C (the average temps while we were there were right around 88...hot and humid), so most days, we went on a morning walk and then back to the house until the afternoon when the shade hit the pool for some swimming. In the future, I think we'll probably stick to the in-between seasons when the temps are a little more bearable for C.
It was nesting season for the sea turtles, and it was neat to see all of the tracks and nests marked off on the beach. After returning from the walk, it was cool down time for Grandpa T and C in the pool!
The following morning, after some serious playing, the guys went fishing, and C came with the girls for some shopping at the Ellenton Premium Outlets. He continues to be a great little shopper, and it was the perfect activity for keeping cool from the hot afternoon sun.
C made out pretty well, and ended up with several new outfits from Gap and JCrew for his summer wardrobe. This adorable seersucker suit did not end up coming home with us sadly, but since T has practically been begging for one since the Derby a few years ago, we had to get the picture for him to ogle when we got home!
After being skunked the first day fishing, the guys decided on a redo to go further out where the water was cooler - about 40 miles off shore. Success! When we met them at the marina, C was all about getting his hands on the fish as soon as possible. After the initial slimy touch, however, he decided it was gross, and deemed it wasn't for him. He was happy to eat it though! The guys came home with quite the catch, and we were able to have fresh caught grouper for lunch. Uncle T seasoned it with some cajun seasoning, T blackened it on the grill, and Grandma J made some delicious mango salsa and fresh coleslaw salad to go with. Yum! Wish we could get good fish where we live. I guess we'll have to wait until our next trip...or maybe just convince Grandpa D to do some walleye fishing on his next fishing trip! Wink wink!!
One evening of our trip, we hit up the Rod N Reel Pier for dinner out with the family. This restaurant is a complete hole in the wall on the north bay side of Anna Maria Island, and is a local favorite. T and I had visited on a previous trip and waited over two hours to eat here. Luckily, the wait the night we went was just an hour, and the pelicans and birds were busy diving for fish right off the pier to keep us entertained while we waited. The fish was amazing, and C was lucky enough to try fresh wahoo, amberjack, and mahi mahi. He loved them all! Coincidentally, if you ever see wahoo on the menu, go for it. Delicious!
All in all, we had a fantastic trip to Florida, and had so much fun fishing, shopping, beaching, and swimming. A great start to the summer season!
The puddle jump continues...off to Denver!