Things I learned in Florida

The Gulf of Mexico is like bath water. I had no idea. Until Monday and Tuesday I had never been in the Gulf. My folks have done their fair share of recon since they moved down to Orlando 13 years ago. Two of the cool places they discovered are Anna Maria Island and Longboat Key. Get a map, find St. Petersburg and go south. That long skinny sandbar you see, that’s where we were. And it was pretty freaking cool. Except for the temperature. Florida in June after all. We ate here.

Name of the place is The Sandbar. Grouper tacos. Mmmm…

Can’t get that in Des Moines.

Then we drove a little south and stayed at a hotel right on the beach. Of course in Longboat Key just about everything is on the beach. Seriously. Its weird to look out your hotel room window and see the Gulf of Mexico on one side and the Sarasota Bay on the other. Here’s a shot from the beach.

Weirder than being on a glorified sandbar that has nearly every square inch developed?

We go to lunch before we leave on Tuesday and the local paper is sitting there. Turns out the top local issue of the day for Anna Maria Island is shark fishing and whether or not it should be banned off the island. Lots of “Jaws” references, people saying “chumming” and warning each other to stay out of the water at night.

Again, we don’t get that in Des Moines.

So we’re deciding if we want to go to SeaWorld or Islands of Adventure. We decided just to go eat lunch at Margaritaville at CityWalk after mulling over the $420 is would take to get all five of us into Islands of Adventure. Kids weren’t happy…but then we got them a milkshake and that took care of things for awhile. It was such a simple solution. Like choosing between boredom and watching Die Hard for 54th time.

I’m telling you ice cream and swimming may be the most powerful parental tools on the planet. Need something to ease the sting of not going to SeaWorld? Milkshake. Something to provide motivation to behave during dinner and a few stops at local shops? Ben & Jerry’s. Something to tire them out so they actually sleep at night during vacation? The Gulf of Mexico. Something to fill hours of time at Grandad and Grandma’s house? Pool. Oh, and an assortment of water guns helps too. The larger the magazine the better too. Remember to purchase some type of protective googles for your eyes. 7 year-olds don’t really focus on accuracy while shooting.

Didn’t expect to discover this but Uno’s is awesome. I know it’s a chain and I know that most folks probably think they’ve to a million places just like it. But we don’t have one in Des Moines. Which is really odd when you think about it because Des Moines is like a chain restaurant mecca. But it has these little computers at the table on which the kids, and by kids I mean me, can play games. It has a super easy version of tetris which mesmerized the girls. Plus, it has an abolutely crazy about of healthy options and Bailey says they have the best mac n’ cheese in the world. Not kidding. I was willing to believe her because she doesn’t eat that much and she finished nearly all of it. If Bails eats something its means one of three things; 1) its ice cream, 2) she’s using the force to trick us into thinking she’s eating, 3) its so good it’ll make you break into song.

And my nephew, by the end of the week, had pretty much had it with the girls.

All four of them are out in the pool playing. My nephew inquires with Kinsey, “Let’s play war. Get the guns.”

Kinsey replies, “Okay but first we have to perform our musical performance numbers.”

Country, rock, rap…everything. But they got my nephew to play along with some beat box…


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One CommentLeave a comment

  1. Great post. I discovered Anna Maria Island a few years back and am desperate to revisit!

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