Saturday, June 25, 2016

Adventures Along the Way

We got all packed up and ready to head out first thing. We were sad to say goodbye to Shell Cove, but excited to see what adventure lies ahead. This trip, since we didn't have this "job thing" to get home to, we decided to sight-see along the way. We have always been curious about what the other areas of Florida's panhandle coast looks like, so we planned to take our time and explore some new places as we head toward home. The first thing we did was drive the skyway bridge off the island to our next destination.

Our next stop was a huge surprise that we knew Taylor would LOVE....she is a big fan of the Dolphin Tale movies, loves animals-especially dolphins, and aspires to work at a rescue center someday, so planning a visit to the Clearwater Marine Aquarium where both, Hope AND Winter reside was so exciting! It was difficult trying to surprise her because, both kids get on the road, hunker down with their screens, and are quiet as little mice. We barely even know they're with us, I'm try to yell over their headphones, for them to look at special things along the trip. This time, we were headed toward Clearwater and we kept seeing huge billboards picturing Winter and Hope and scenes from the movie...Tay never noticed! I kept urging her to look out the window to get a hint of where we were going and she would see the signs and say, "aaawww, they are adorable", but never expect to actually get to see them for It wasn't until we were literally parked and getting out at CMA, that she realized we were really there! She was so excited! It was a great time, we got to see the facility, tons of sea life, and even got to visit Hope and Winter close up! IT WAS AWESOME! We even took a trolley to the actual movie set and walked through a life-like hurricane, then took a boat back across the bay.  It was a really cool adventure!

We planned to be on the road for about 7 hours before reaching our hotel for the next two nights in Destin. We have alot of friends who travel to Destin each summer for vacation, so we decided to check it out too. We drove smaller roads along the coast, unfortunately passing by some really cool state parks that we wish we had time to visit. The Crystal River manatee springs, Weeki Wachee springs, and Homosassa Springs...maybe next time. We drove through some tiny towns and slow roads, but eventually got to Fort Walton Beach Holiday Inn in Destin. It was dark and busy, so we didn't really get to see much.

The hotel we booked was Gulf front, with a really cool natural style pool with waterfall and swim-up bar. We got there late on a VERY BUSY Saturday night, not what we expected. It was filled to the brim with teenagers and kids running around, definitely not what we were hoping for. While the hotel was clean, it was really dated, I felt spoiled because I was disappointed by the age of the place. We had already booked it and since it was late we went ahead and stayed the night. Taylor HAD to try out the really cool pool, the rest of us were totally beat from the ride, so we ordered pizza and called it a night.

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