We have taken a little bit of a break from blogging while we have been soaking up the sun (and the occasional rain storm) here in Florida. My last post was written when we were in St. Augustine, Florida, which is in northern Florida. From there we headed south and spent some time in Titusville which is close to the Kennedy Space Center. The Kennedy Space Center is an amazing stop that should not be missed by anyone visiting the Orlando area. There is so much information here that (once again) I had no idea about. The knowledge, experience and dedication by NASA is truly amazing. Andrew and I were both in tears when we watched the unveiling of the Atlantis Space Shuttle. Overall, a very cool experience.
After our Space Center visit we made our way to DisneyWorld. This part of the trip was probably what the girls were most excited about, not only was it DisneyWorld, but we were also meeting all the cousins! YEAH! Family time. The whole Micheli crew made their way down south so we could all spend Christmas together. My family stayed in a house outside of DisneyWorld (even though we tried to convince them to rent an RV and stay in the Disney campground - Fort Wilderness), it was lovely to spend Christmas Eve and Christmas in a home and the girls got some fun sleepovers in with the cousins as well. But after (almost) opening and closing DisneyWorld for a full week we all decided that it was a fun trip but also very exhausting. Managing 16 people in a fully packed DisneyWorld is challenging, but we were very happy to all be together. All 16 of got to ride the Aerosmith Rock & Roller Coaster and to be honest, my dad's face as that roller coaster took off was worth the price of admission for sure!
After DisneyWorld, we made our way to Port Canaveral to meet up with Andrew's family for our Christmas gift from his parents, which was a Disney Cruise. It was a great way to complete our Disney adventure. All the same fun and excitement as Disney, just a bit more relaxing then the theme park. During the trip we swam with Dolphins in Cozumel, Mexico, snorkeled with turtles in Grand Cayman, went inter-tubing in Jamaica and spent lots of time in the sun and the beautiful blue water on the Disney Island, Castaway Cay. Once again, what we enjoyed most was spending time with our family. Even though the cruise was a bit rough for some, more than others, we were all excited to spend the time together.
When the cruise was over we loaded up back into our camper and headed south to visit more family, our cousins Hayden, Stephanie and Zibby in Ft. Lauderdale. Zibby is 2 years old and we had never met her, so our visit was way overdue. We had a great time with the cousins boating, shopping, visiting The Everglades and exploring Ft. Lauderdale and Miami. Stephanie and I even got a yoga class in, which was lovely.
After four days in Ft. Lauderdale, the cousins joined us on the road and we headed down to Key West. This was one of my most anticipated destinations for the trip because I was really looking forward to sun and beach time, and it definitely did not disappoint. Our camping spot at Boyd’s Campground was amazing. I am so happy we made these reservations back in May, this place was packed and we secured a beautiful spot on the water. Our time in Key West has been relaxing and fun. We had some great dinners out with the cousins, especially our delicious dinner at Benihana. We had a great day at the beach where we were all able to do whatever we wanted. We paddle boarded, sailed the HobeCat, the boys parasailed, Siena dug a big hole, Zibby slept and we all enjoyed playing in the water.
After the cousins headed home our crew took the ferry out to Dry Tortugas National Park and Fort Jefferson. This is the third largest fort in the US and has some breathtaking sandy white beaches and crystal blue waters. The only bummer (in my opinion) was that the day we were schedule to head out was one of the coldest all week, a chilling 69 degrees, but it was also windy so the conditions for snorkeling were not ideal. Since it was chilly and Siena has been battling a cold and lots of congestion, plus a little too much Dramamine for all of us, we were pretty exhausted once we got on the island, so our visit was mainly exploring the fort and the beaches. I am sad we didn’t snorkel, but in the end I think it was the best choice at the time, visiting an island 70 miles off the coast of Key West is amazing, no matter what the weather is like.
As I write this blog, it is overcast again here in Key West, which is probably why I finally took the time to sit down and write. I am feeling so fortunate for all the great adventures we have had and the fact that we have had the chance to visit with our family this month. We have been on the road for 4 months now and we all have been missing home, getting to hug our family was a great cure for some homesickness. My only concern now is how much the girls really appreciate this experience that they are getting. Our hope is that this trip will teach them about all the opportunities there are for them when they get older. Hopefully we will give them a little glimpse into what our country has to offer and let them decide how and where they want to live and what they want to do, as they get older. I am not sure they really understand how lucky they are, when we visit a new city they are always looking for the next souvenir or complaining that it’s too hot (too cold, too windy, etc) or talking about “When we get home, I want XYZ”. I understand that they are kids and they really didn’t have a choice about coming on this trip, but I do hope that as they get older this trip is something they will reference for the rest of their life. They were very excited about the 6 toed cats at Hemingway’s House, so when they start reading Old Man and the Sea in high school, maybe they will remember visiting the author's home here in Key West, and the cute cat they saw lying on the floor in his writing studio when they peeked inside. I can only hope.
The girls’ blog posts are up next, so I guess we will see what they think about the last month.
After we leave here tomorrow, we are heading north and making our way back home. It will likely take us the same amount time it took to get here, about 4 months or so. Up next, western Florida, New Orleans and visiting with our friend Ron. Then on to Dallas and Canadian, TX to visit more cousins and then heading into New Mexico and the Rockies to get some skiing in!