Saturday, April 7, 2012

Florida for Spring Break!

Going home.  I always hate the driving part of a trip, but especially the going home part.  We are currently on I 95 and on our way home from Clearwater Florida.  Several years ago, my parents started living in Clearwater during the winter months.  They have lived in the same community for these past few years and have gained lots of good friends that have also been living in Clearwater, during the winter months, for several years.  For Spring Break this year, they invited us to come down and visit.  Without much convincing, we decided it would be a nice time and a good opportunity to go to Sea World and Busch Gardens since we did not have the opportunity to go either place while doing the Disney thing last spring.  We left Friday, March 30, after work and are returning today—April 7. 

On Saturday, we arrived too late to do anything, but on Sunday we hit the beach.  We intended to go to Indian Rocks beach, but it was very crowded and no parking available.  We stumbled across Sand Key Park.  This was a nice beach.  You had to pay to park, but $5 for all day and there were bathrooms and plenty of parking.  My parents went with us.  We all had a great time!!

On Monday we headed to Sea World.  This was so great!  We pet sting rays, were splashed by dolphins, saw Shamu and Baby Shamu, rode some pretty cool rides and closed the place down.  Mike and I had gone there for our Honeymoon, but the kids had never been there.  They took their little cameras that are the disposable kind.  Totally burned up all 27 pictures at Sea World J.  We also saw the Clyde and Seamore (Sea Lion and Otter) show.  Mike and Ryan rode the Journey to Atlantis.  The kids and I hung out in Shamu’s Happy Harbor (riding rides) while Mike rode the Kraken roller coaster and the Manta roller coaster.  He realized he is not as young as he once was.  The roller coasters took more of a toll on him than he thought they would J.  We explored the Shark Encounter and the Wild Arctic helicopter simulator ride.  Emily got a little freaked out by that one.  We completed our day by having a pizza/pasta dinner at the Terrace Garden Buffet and hitting the gift shop.  I think the gift shop was the highlight of the kids day.  ;) 

 Tuesday we traveled to a neighboring town called Dunedin Florida.  Dunedin houses the spring training field for the Toronto Blue Jays.  We have a friend who plays shortstop for the Blue Jays.  His name is Brian Bocock.  Sadly, two days before the game, he was sent into surgery and we were not able to see him after all.  The game was still fun.  The Blue Jays played the Detroit Tigers and beat the pants off of them.  We are not really fans of either team so it did not matter who won.  The highlight of the game was this awesome concession guy.  He was one of the guys who sells beer in the stands.  He totally made the game.  He had this deep, booming voice—and no microphone that we could see.  He kept the crowd cheering and laughing.  He must be a DJ on the side or something.

 Wednesday was another beach day.  This time we hit Clearwater Beach.  Clearwater is beautiful, with pretty white sand, but it was VERY crowded!!  I did not feel comfortable letting the kids go out into the water while I sat on the sand.  Too many people, but I think there were a lot of families there that were on Spring Break too.
Thursday we went to Busch Gardens.  We have been to the Busch Gardens in Williamsburg several times, but this was our first time in Tampa.  We had a great time!  There were so many cool rides we wanted to ride that we ended up not having time to see the one show we thought would be fun to see.  Busch Gardens closes very early so we were pretty pressed for time to do all we wanted.  We spent some time in the Sesame Street kids section.  This was good for Lydia and Emily, but Ryan was too tall to ride some of these rides.  Plus, he was not interested in some of them.  We did all ride the Air Grover roller coaster and went through the treetop treehouse maze.  We walked up to the  . . . . roller coaster (I can't remember the name of it) and got soaked from the water it threw up.  This was great considering it was about 95 degrees all day and very few water fountains around to fill up our water bottles as we drank them.  We rode the train around the Serengeti and then Mike and Ryan rode a roller coaster while Lydia and Emily spent a little time in another section set for younger children.  We rode the Congo River Rapids (like White Water Canyon in Kings Dominion) and got soaked!  Well, I did mostly.  We rode the sky ride (which Emily LOVED) back to the front of the park and hit the gift shop there.  Another awesome day!!

Friday was our last day.  My mom knew we liked Chuck E. Cheese’s and would go to them when we were in towns that had them.  She found a great coupon for pizza and tokens and we went there for lunch.  After that, I wanted to go to the beach again, but Mike and the kids wanted to swim so they stayed at Mom and Dad’s and swam in the pool that is part of their community.  Mom and I went to Indian Rock Beach.  Most definitely the best of all three beaches.  This is the one that mom and dad typically go to when they go to the beach.  It was such a nice, relaxing afternoon and the kids got to do what they wanted to do as well. 
During some of our down time, we toured the neighborhood where my parents live and met some of their friends.  We learned how to play shuffleboard (VERY popular in this community!!), we saw where the block parties and Bingo tournaments are held and learned our way around Clearwater pretty well.  It is so beautiful!! 
After saying our good byes and thank yous to my parents this morning, we climbed in our van for our 14 hour trip home.  Uggghhh!!!  It was a fantastic week!!  We may have to hit my parents up for this to be an annual Spring Break trip.  So fun!!!