Monday, August 16, 2010

Tennessee to Tampa and Back

I had the wild and crazy idea a few weeks back to set out on an adventure to see my mom.

Just me and my three kids.

All the way from Tennessee to Tampa.

All 800 miles.

Each way.


I have to stop here and thank the Lord for three things that fueled this trip.

My GPS system. {affectionately named Gigi}

Cracker Barrel.

And Funyons.

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And my Co-Pilot here. He did a great job of keeping me on the right road, keeping me stocked with Funyons, and texting dad and grandma for me. He said he should start charging me per text. I don't remember exactly what I said but I'm sure the word "punk" was involved.

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This was our first gas stop.

Somewhere in Georgia.

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This pretty much sums up how Aidan felt about being in the car. Good thing someone didn't see this and call the cops on me.

We stopped overnight right before hitting the Florida state line. Apparently you hit a stretch in Georgia where the hotels are slim pickins and the smutty billboards for Gentleman's clubs are every 5 feet. I'm not exaggerating. I had to tell my 14 year old to avert his eyes from the side of the road. Maybe it's Georgia's desperate attempt to get you to stay.

We checked into the only hotel we found with a room and they handed me my key and said, "Here's your key. Your room is around back by the train."

You're kidding right!?!?


He wasn't.

Scared the crap out of me twice in the night.

Did I mention this glorious train track room was a Smoking room?

And that I had been extremely sick with asthma right before I left for this trip?

Once I put hot compresses on my puffy eyes, inhaled Albuterol like my life depended on it, killed a couple of bugs trying to share the bathroom with us, and had breakfast, we hit the road....Tampa bound!

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The first thing we did when we arrived at Grandma's was fall in love with this little girl. Meet Keiko. She is a Japanese Chin. Before you go falling in love with her, and her adorable underbite, be warned...she will steal your heart...and then leave you to pine away for her...while she sleeps all day.

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We hit St. Pete's Beach the first night for dinner. My mom and my step dad Bob treated us to a "Welcome to Florida" dinner at Crabby Bill's.

Two words.

Smoked. Fish.


Ok that's three.

Sue me.

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Maggie picked these along the boardwalk to the beach.

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This was the view outside our restaraunt.

This photo is straight out of the camera.

No editing.


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We spent a day at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium.

We wanted to see Winter.

Here she is.

I happened to walk up as they were moving her.

It was amazing to see.

Notice anything missing?

Her story is truly inspiring.

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Winter has made strides in the world of prosthetics.

All because she needed a tail, a substance called "Winter Gel" was invented and is now being used in human prosthetics as well to allow more motion.

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Then we spent a day on Clearwater Beach.

My kids were not used to shells.

Destin does not have shells.

Not really.

Not the kind that count.

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Not really neat shells like this.

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I believe this restaurant was called "Frenchie's".

I asked my mom and Tyler to pose for a picture.

This was when my mom started remembering being there when Tyler was born.

Now he is as big as she is.

There has been a lot of time spent reflecting on this kid and the young man he is becoming lately.

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This is the part where I claim temporary insanity.

I took these three to Seaworld.

Alone. (Grandma tripped over the cute Chin above and hurt her ankle the night before)

In 185 degree weather.

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I warned you that I might take out a whole row of innocent children to get up close and personal with Shamu.

How's this for seating?

Don't worry.

No children were harmed.

I scored major cool mom points here by getting us in the "Soak Zone".


We didn't get one drop.

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And this would be where I lost all those cool points when I started crying in a not so pretty fashion.

I cannot help it.

This was amazing to see.

And it made me super emotional.

God's creation is just overwhelming at times.

Maybe my kids won't be talking about their trip to Seaworld with their emotionally unstable mother in counseling one day.

And let's just face it.

I lost any and all cool points when I started sweating in unmentionable places and my clothes looked like I had been seated on the front row of that soak zone.

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If you have made it this far in this post I should really send you a gift card or something.

You are either really faithful to my blog.

Or really bored.

Or a blood member of my family that feels obligated to endure my ramblings.

Almost done. Promise.

The last full day we headed to Pass-A-Grille.

Maggie loves shells and Grandma Pat promised a whole conch could be found at this beach.

She delivered.

The stinky conch is still in my garage waiting to be bleached.

This beach was so pretty.

The town itself very quaint.

It was my favorite and I could have stayed here for hours.

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Seriously just look at these shells.

I had never seen so many shells on a beach before.

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Nor had my kids. They were in shell heaven!

It was sorta like an Easter Egg Hunt...on the beach.

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The sun was setting on more than the beach that day...

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It was setting on a wonderful time spent reconnecting with my mom and step dad.

On lots of laughter and lots of memories made.

On a week of staying up till midnight, sleeping till whenever, and being allowed to drink Grandma's famous iced coffees.

Even when you are 7.

My kids cried when we left.

Even my teenager didn't want to leave Grandma's house.

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And as sad as I was to go...think ugly crying again...I knew in my heart I was already making plans to go back again.

In the winter!

Linking up here today:
Sweet Shot Day

tuesdays unwrapped at cats

"My every mortal breath, is Grace and nothing less"

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