We’re back from out 2 week road-trip to Florida! It’s awesome to sleep in my own bed again, but winter has hit Saint Louis. The high today isn’t suppose to reach 40 degrees so goodbye sunny, warm Florida. Our trip was a blast and it was wonderful to see everyone! Xander enjoyed all the attention and lovin’. I think he & our dog Kali are in withdrawal. Time to get back to reality you two! Anyway, here are the highlights from our fun-filled vacation.
We left Saint Louis at 6pm on a Sunday, car packed, baby bathed, and Kali crammed in the back next to the suitcases and pack n play. Airfare to Florida plus dog boarding fees would have broken the bank (well over 1,000 dollars) so we opted to drive the 15+ hours from Saint Louis to Orlando. The first hour in the car I sat in the back, light on, and entertained our little bundle of joy. It took a lot of energy but Xander was a good sport (he’s a crawler and all-around wiggle worm so we feared the worst on this road trip. You know, what happens when a highly energetic baby is strapped down in a car-seat for hours upon hours….?). We stopped at a fast food joint to gas up and snack on chicken fingers. Xander gulped down his nightcap of formula and was ready for bed. We got back on the road 40 minutes later, lights off, and Daddy & Xander hit the sack in the back. I took the captain’s chair and drove until 1 am. Nick & Xander happily snoozed the drive away. By this time I was growing tired and weary from hearing Carrie Underwood’s new song on XM radio like 5 times! Nick and I switched seats and I attempted to get some shut eye myself (without much luck thanks to the espresso drink I had a couple hours previous). Overall the drive was uneventful. No traffic, lots of road kill, and only some annoying construction here and there (namely Georgia). By morning and Xander’s breakfast time, we were just north of Gainesville. We stopped for some stretching but hit the road and made it to Orlando before lunchtime. Xander was able to nap in the comfort of my parent’s house for his 1st nap and we were able to shower and socialize with Papaw and Meemaw. We said our goodbye to them and Kali and headed down to Largo for the first part of our vacation.
In Largo, we stayed with Grandpa and Nana. They were delighted to play with Xander all day long and boy, did Xander love the constant attention. I think their little dog, Muffin, was a tad bit jealous. During our stay we went to the beach, went to the park for some swing-pushing, appeared at the local USPS office to submit Xander’s passport application, went shopping, and drank lots of wine and beer. We were able to see and talk with the Mills clan in Australia thanks to modern technology (if you haven’t tried Skype, you must!). Xander got to snuggle with Liz and investigate the furnishings at Paul’s house. We drove down to Bradenton to spend one evening with our friends Sara and Danny. Sara looked radiant and she was scheduled to have her baby yesterday (congrats guys!). I think the loud noises that come out of Xander’s little mouth frightened their son, Logan. Yes, Xander is going through a phase. A shouting phase. He loves to shout as loud as he can. It’s like a game to him and he loves it when Nick or I play along too. 🙂
We also got to visit with LeeAnn, Brian, and Aaron. We got to meet and hold the Slator’s newest addition, baby Dean. He’s 1.5 months old, but I was amazed how little he was. It’s hard to remember when Xander was that small. We also got to visit with Jovan and Terry for a couple days. Xander and Terry became instant pals. One evening Mommy & Daddy double dated with Nicole and Hao (and our “driver” aka Mr Vangura tagged along too) and dined at Bone Fish. Yum! Nana and Grandpa took excellent care of Xander. Let’s see what else… oh, Nick played disc golf and badly injured his shoulder (yes, another injury I can directly place the blame on Jovan for). So for most of our vacation in Orlando Nick laid on the couch popping pain killers. The grand finale of our week in Largo was a Gator-watching party at Jovan’s place. He throws the best parties! And cooks the best stuff! I loved those pigs in a blanket! It was sad to leave, but a week in Orlando awaited us.
As I previously mentioned, Nick hurt his shoulder so Nick enjoyed my parent’s armchair recliners. I think his butt is still imprinted on the seat. In O-town we shopped, played games, and visited the local park a couple times. We even drove across town to take Kali to a fabulous dog park in Winter Park. Kali loved splashing in the lake and running along side other dogs. My brother Gwyn flew to Japan on Thanksgiving morning so we had turkey dinner on Wednesday. Gwyn’s best friend Kelly also dined with us. As usual, my mom and dad did a fabulous, out of this world job on the holiday meal! Besides turkey and gravy, there was mashed potatoes, homemade stuffing, corn, Brussels sprouts, jello salad, cranberry sauce, deviled eggs, sweet potato casserole, and pumpkin pie. It was delicious! Xander sat in his highchair next to me and watched everyone stuff themselves! During our stay in Orlando, Nick & I took advantage of the free babysitting and went on a date. We went to our favorite Indian restaurant, Memories of India, for the best Vindaloo chicken in town! It did not disappoint. Since we weren’t ready to return just yet, we went to the Portofino (where we had our wedding reception) to have a drink and walk around. The hotel is simply beautiful! It was decorated for Christmas and a large, real Christmas tree stood outside by the lagoon completely decorated with ornaments. It was a perfect date night!
Of course all good things must come to an end. We decided to break up the 16 hour drive into 2 days, stopping in Atlanta for the night. Along the way we also stopped in Gainesville to watch the sun go down and the bats emerge from the bat-house at Lake Alice. We arrived in Atlanta after midnight and quickly hit the sack. In the morning I jetted off to the Marietta Gone with the Wind museum where Dr. Chris Sullivan’s impressive Gone with the Wind and Vivien Leigh memorabilia collection is housed. He and I are email friendly so he granted me permission to photograph anything and everything and also said I could examine the items out of the cases. I loved every inch of this place! Besides all the wonderful vintage telegrams, books, film posters, autographs, and photographs, Chris owns an original Scarlett O’Hara gown that Vivien Leigh wore in 1939 during the filming! The museum director was extremely hospitable and opened up a case so I could look at a photo album that Chris purchased from Vivien Leigh’s estate! She even gave me a gift bag full of items from the gift-shop when I left. Vivien Leigh fans are the best! I hurried back to the hotel, packed the car, and off we went! It was a long haul from Atlanta to Saint Louis. We discovered that Xander’s could only handle 1 hour in the car-seat before getting fussy. So we made stops quite often so he could stretch and crawl around on a blanket at a local rest stop or welcome center. He was a champ and didn’t cry very much on the trip back. Nick and I became experts at entertaining him and feeding him in the car-seat.
Well, here were are. Back at home. It was a fabulous trip! We enjoyed seeing everyone! Thanks for everything! To view all the photos from our trip, click HERE.