Trip to Florida

Because of the surge in covid-19, a few weeks before Thanksgiving Ben’s school sent us a message. “Out of an abundance of caution”, they were pausing all in person learning until January 11th. Around the same time Adam’s office asked that people only come if it was essential.

“We might as well rent a house in Florida for a month.” I said to Adam. There was no reason any of us had to be in a city that was completely shuttered and was too cold to go outdoors.

I thought perhaps with his mountain of work, it would be to hard for Adam to spend the time traveling. It’s a solid two days drive down. Surprisingly he agreed.

Perhaps it wasn’t so surprising. Before Covid, we were planning on flying to Florida around this time and taking the kids to Disney plus adding on either a stop in Marco Island, to show them where we got married, or a stop in Boca Raton where my parents live. We figured we wouldn’t have time to do all three stops.

So, two weeks before we were set to leave, we frantically searched for a house rental with a solid month available.

We found a perfect place equidistant from my mother and father’s place in Deerfield Beach. It was walking distance to the beach. And it had a heated pool! However, it was only available for three weeks.

We decided we would add a few nights in Marco Island, but skip Disney because it seemed just too reckless and unsafe.

Twin masks

We arrived to find my parents stocking the house with requested extra portable tables for remote learning and treats.

Homemade rugalug from Grandpa and homemade Italian Christmas cookies from Japo.

The kids wasted no time changing into swim clothes and taking full advantage of the heated pool. Many days the kids had ‘recess’ in the pool.

We spent the next two weeks remote learning during the day, but making plenty of time for fun things every afternoon and weekend.

We spent time in Grandpa’s pool too. Japo’s neighbor let us borrow their huge float which the males in the house blew up and promptly tried push each other off of.

One weekend we took them to Ski Rixen at Quiet Waters Park. They have a special time in the mornings when they slow the cable down and allow kids 7 and up (as opposed to 12 and up normally) to learn to ski, wakeboard, or kneeboard.

Aaron.
Ben surprises us by making a full loop.

During this time, they have a golf cart that picks up the fallen riders and brings them back to the starting point.

Sam keeps trying until he makes a full loop.
Jack manages to loop the track three times.

We spent many hours on beaches, both in Deerfield Beach and in Marco Island.

What goes out…
…must come back.
Looking for shells at Tigertail Beach in Marco Island.
Shelling on one of the 10,000 islands on Marco Island with our friends the Piercys.

We also spent a lot of time on boats.

On cousin Jackie’s pontoon boat in Fort Lauderdale.
Snorkeling boat trip in Key Largo.
Shelling tour in Marco Island.

We also celebrated Hanukkah during our time in Deerfield Beach. I didn’t do a great job with the Hanukkah bears, but they did manage to make a few appearances.

The Hanukkah bears stole the kids electronics.
The Hanukkah bears went snorkeling.
The Hanukkah bears stole Sam’s microscope (a Hanukkah present from Grandpa)
The Hanukkah bears went biking.
The Hanukkah bears built a pillow fort.
They even made an appearance at ‘school’.

The kids saw lots of amazing things that we never see here….

Iguanas in our backyard.
Dolphins surfing our boat wake in Marco Island.
Cape Romano. Marco Island.

We had so many wonderful adventures, but the very best part of the trip was all the time spent with friends and family. Because of the weather, we were able to have many different socially distant meet ups.

Delicious dinner at Etaru in Hallandale with Adam’s cousin Jackie and her husband, Mark.
Celebrating my birthday with this beloved group of friends, a friendship that has lasted over 30 years so far.
Meeting up with my Chicago friend at the Ocean Reef Club in Kay Largo.
Lovely boat tour with the Piercy’s in Marco Island.
Japo takes the twins on a tour of her house.
Grandpa take Jack and Adam on a bike ride.

Oh, and after we drove 17 hours into Florida, I pointed out that we had just passed Disney World. It was a shame not to go when we were passing RIGHT BY IT and considering how hard it was to get here from Chicago.

I suggested that we add a few more days to the trip and stop by Disney on our way home.

Are you surprised that Adam agreed?

Turns out Disney was only booking the park at 1/3 capacity. They did a lot of work to make it covid safe, with clearly marked lines to stand 6 feet apart while queuing. Spacing for dining and not being able to enter any food places until you placed a mobile order. They were strict on masking and frankly it felt a lot safer than what I saw when I briefly stopped at gas stations across America.

The happiest place on Earth.
Animal Kingdom.
Hollywood Studios.
Make your own Droid at Hollywood Studios.
The kids all leave with a Groku souvenir.

It was truly a magical vacation, ironically one we could not have had without this pandemic.

We are back in freezing Chicago and I’m missing Florida already.

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