We’re back! We got back Tuesday and are still unpacking, catching up on emails and otherwise recuperating from our 13 day adventure.
Along the way to Florida and back, we explored Iowa, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia, Mississippi, Missouri and perhaps a few more that I’ve forgotten.
On the way down, we went as fast as possible, not really stopping much until we hit the Georgia coast (which we loved).
From there, we drove down into historic St. Augustine (where we explored a fabulous and enormous fort and much of the country’s oldest colonized city) and spent a couple of days in Jacksonville and neighboring beaches, then to Ocala to stay with our friend’s parents. Guy and Val (plus her mother) took the girls to Universal Studios and the Harry Potter theme park on one of the days we were down there, and we all went to a museum and butterfly house together, plus swam and explored.
On the way back, we took our time and headed to the Gulf coast first. We drove all along that, stopping in several cities and beaches (and an island or two!). We took the long way and drove all the way to the Mississippi coast, where we made a special trip to Gulfport to see the effects of the oil spill (that should be a post of its own), then started our mad drive home.
The kids absolutely loved it, and our friends Guy and Val seemed to really enjoy their family road trip with the kids. They are already asking where to go next!
The weather was divine (high seventies and low eighties, blue skies every day!) and the beaches were beautiful and diverse.
I loved how every beach had a different character and feel, and there were different sorts of treasures at each. For instance, one had dozens of tiny jellyfish washed up all over. At another, we watched dozens of horseshoe crabs come just to the edge of the shore to mate as the waves lapped at them and buried the females.
Here’s a list we made up in the car of things we had learned about. These are the things we really experienced and learned a lot about (or made a big impact), but obviously there were hundreds more!
- The Gulf oil spill
- palm trees
- mullet fish
- Florida history
- horseshoe crabs
- how to spell Mississippi
- beach safety flags
- gluten allergies (Guy is allergic to gluten and many other things, and it was a huge ordeal at every stop and restaurant)
- hang gliding
- hibachi grill restaurants (the kids LOVED our fun chef who set things on fire and flung food into our mouths!)
- Waffle Houses
- 80’s rock bands and singers
- St. Augustine
- the UV scale (at the Georgia beach, we looked up the UV index for the day and it was a perfect 7 on a scale of 1 to 14, while back home in MN it was 1!)
- Southern accents
- Universal Studios
- a 600 year old tree (and the history it saw)
- flood myths from various cultures and religions
- fetal development
- Spanish moss
- the Atlantic Ocean
- Spanish history
- the Gulf of Mexico
- black Seminoles
- Mardis Gras
- roller coasters
- mule deer
- Florida cowboys (the museum had an extensive exhibit)
- clams and how they burrow into the sand
- sweet tea
- Florida Native American tribes
- grits, key lime pie and hush puppies
- German (Victoria got her Harry Potter pamphlet in German and did educational German apps on the drive)
- sunburn science
- sand (types, composition, cool things to do with it….)
- deer ticks and Lyme Disease
- keys, peninsulas and other geographic formations
- Georgia (back roads, small towns, beaches, plants, foods, economic state, birds…)
- oysters, sand dollars and other shells and creatures
- states, geography, maps
- politics (republicans, democrats, liberals, conservatives, fiscal conservatives, tea partiers, famous political families and politicians, changes in parties over time, key issues, socialism, communism, Ayn Rand, Big Brother, 1984, libertarians…)
It was such an amazing adventure and such a wonderful experience for the kids. Val and Victoria took a billion pictures each and my camera was out of commission for a chunk of the trip, so I am hoping to snag some of their pictures too.
This is why we have a 25 year old couch and a Freecycle rug, why I make dinners from scratch and shop at thrift stores for clothes. 🙂 Travel is the most fabulous gift I can give my kids. I am so happy they got to experience all of this!
I’ll post more soon!
It’s great to be back… mostly. 😉