Solar Powered Florida Adventures

Last week I did something I rarely do but realized I should really do more of – I took a mini vacation. The two days in Albany and the press that followed after took more out of me than I realized. I was exhausted. So, when the opportunity came for me to travel to Florida for a few days I (reluctantly) said yes.

My adventure began with a red-eye flight out of the Niagara Falls airport (yeah, who knew?) via Spirit Airlines to Ft. Lauderdale, FL last Sunday. Apparently, if you pack light enough, something I am NOT known for, you can fly very reasonably on this airline but don’t even THINK of using a legit carry-on bag. Nope. Think small backpack or something half the size of a carry-on suite case and it should also function as your purse ladies or you’ll be paying an extra $50 for luggage. I digress….

I landed in Ft. Lauderdale at 5:30am Monday and it was a glorious 75 degrees!! It already felt like I was going to have a good time. My second wind was waking up and asking about breakfast.

20170206_070402

My early morning breakfast view at The Hilton Doubletree

I should have taken a nap but where was the fun in that? In stead, I decided to take advantage of the glorious weather and get into my (GASP) bathing suit and head straight to the pool for some much-needed Vitamin D. I am extremely deficient after all. It would be very irresponsible of me not to lay out in the sun for a little while, right?? Yes, of course I had sun screen.

After a lovely afternoon of sun and Piña Colada’s, I made plans to see a friend in Key West. The last time I was in Key West was in 2014, which was my first time. It was a difficult trip for me because of all the bone and joint pain. I was also 45 lbs heavier. The heat made moving around that much more painful. I was looking forward to going back not as that person and creating some new memories.

Bright and early on Tuesday, I began the trip to Key West. The drive thru the different Key’s is so nice. About 4 hours later, I rolled into New town Key West and checked into the hotel. I had a bit of time before dinner and meeting up with Monique so that meant I had to check out the pool. It was a bit warmer at 85 degrees but still absolutely lovely. My brain can’t even comprehend leaving anytime soon and returning to cold weather.

img_20170208_201011_229

I met Monique for dinner in Old Town Key West at a lovely restaurant where she works part-time. It’s on the water where the cruise ships dock. There is a large crowd that gather for cocktails at the outside bar to watch the sunset. The food was amazing and the dessert was from heaven. Yes, I could have had the Key Lime Pie but when Caramel Crème Brûlée is on the menu you order the Caramel Crème Brûlée. Always. Thems the rules.

We had a LOT of laughs and a crazy adventure after dinner that involved visiting a local dive bar off the beaten path that, if I had to guess, is probably only known to the locals. Probably for good reason. The rest of the night will, as they say, stay in Key West.

I wrapped up my stay with lunch with Monique at the Blue Macaw for Conch Fritters and then a quick picture of the Southernmost Point. A landmark that I didn’t make it to last time I was in Key West because of the extreme heat.

I also have to add that if ever in the area, at Mile Marker 15, you simply MUST stop in at Baby’s Coffee. They roast their own beans and have the most outstanding blends of coffee. There are also sandwiches and snacks if you’re hungry. If you’re a coffee connoisseur but not going to be in Key West, you can order their coffee online.

20170207_131242

Wednesday night, I very begrudgingly made my way back to the airport to begin my way back to the cold tundra of NY. I was already beginning to become sad knowing that I was leaving the lovely sun and warm weather but Adam and my pup Bella were waiting for me to come home. Oh, they are SO lucky I love them so much.

I barely remember getting back home Thursday morning. It was sometime around 3am. I just know Bella came our of Adam’s room to great me and jumped into my bed with me. When it was time to wake Adam up 4 hours later, this is how I woke up…..

img_20170209_123435_973

This trip taught me something important. If I’m going to keep doing the things that are important to me. If I’m going to keep trying to make a difference in the world, I need to remember to take time for me too. Not just Dr appointments. I need to remember to take breaks and recharge. I can’t run myself down or I won’t be good to anyone.

It was great to get away. I’m so lucky that I was able to. I had a fantastic time and I am absolutely counting the days until I can do it all over again but God help me, coming home to that furry face is the sweetest thing ever.

My Bucket List Got a Bit Smaller

We started planning our February vacation many months ago. We knew we wanted to go to Florida but not sure where. Finally, we settled on Universal Studios and Cape Canaveral. The boys are too old for Disney and this seemed like a great alternative.

Thanks to my amazing friend Nancy Beth, she put me in touch with an organization that provides adults with a terminal illness and children 16 and younger tickets to Universal Studios! I immediately got in touch with Compassion Partners and spoke with a lovely woman who told me what to do. Later that day, I had a confirmation letter from her outlining that 10 tickets (2 days) to Universal along with a Gold Pass AND 5 tickets to Sea World were on hold for us!! Little did I know, the Gold ticket allowed all of us to get escorted to the front of every line of every ride at Universal!! No matter how long the wait was…we went to the front of the line. What a time saver and boy did it help me! The boys felt like VIP’s!

image

Two weeks before our trip, I found that Sea World offers ‘Experiences’. A behind the scenes if you will. I about lost my mind when I saw they had a penguin experience! I LOVE penguins. I collect them and I even have a penguin tattoo. I booked it for my son and myself. The others didn’t care for doing it.

It was amazing!! We were able to go back to where the penguin habitat was and the tour guide brought out three penguins! Leon was first. Leon is a King penguin and the largest one. He was so sweet but all he cared about was getting out and wandering thru the offices.

image

Sherlock was next. Sherlock is a Rockhopper. He was very friendly and very curious. He had fun posing for pictures. While Sherlock was posing for photo ops, Leon was walking around and hanging out by the door hoping it would open.

image

The last little guy was a baby Gentu. He was losing his baby fluff to make room for his feathers. This penguin wasn’t named yet because they weren’t sure if he was male or female. I didn’t care. I just knew I was in penguin heaven! The best part was that I have this memory with my Son and he has it with me. My first bucket list item has been accomplished!

image

Our last day was spent at Cape Canaveral. It was a chilly day for Orlando but we didn’t care. We went on a 2 1/2 hour bus tour and saw a lot of locations where NASA would launch from. Its very impressive. If you haven’t gone I highly recommend it.

image

Today would mark another bucket list item as complete. I was going to meet Nancy Beth!! She so nicely took a half day to come meet us and hang out. I was so excited to finally meet her. We have been talking every week since the holiday’s. She’s so upbeat and has a sense of humor I appreciate.  Sure enough she did not disappoint. We had lunch together and went to a few more exhibits. In true dork form, I managed to get my credit card stuck in such a way that I almost wasn’t getting it back, but thankfully I redeemed myself.

image

We will forever be bonded by our matching pink NASA sweatshirts!

I had a fantastic week and I can confidently say everyone else did too. The only thing that would have made it better is if I could have brought Bella with us. She was on my mind the whole week. I did call twice to check on her. She was acting OK but she was having some intestinal issues (probably nerves) and needed probotics. I cannot wait to get my princess and love her and snuggle her.

12 more hours until we are home.