Monday, May 18, 2009

Florida Day 7

Our final day in Florida saw much rainfall so we kept ourselves occupied darting in and out of shops and driving to see surrounding neighborhoods. One very fun stop for Deedra was at a Christmas store. LOVED IT! Abby-not quite as fun as the stop in CO, though! We also enjoyed our time at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium. At this acquarium they rescue and rehabilitate marine life, particularly dolphins, sea otters, sea turtles, and sharks. We caught a dolphin show which we both enjoyed. The acquarium is home to "Winter", a dolphin they rescued that lost its tail. They have made a prosthetic tail for Winter and she has learned to swim with it again.
For dinner tonight, we returned to our favorite restaurant in the area, "The Island Way Grill." We discussed that it would be great to get this restaurant back home! Speaking of home, we look forward to our return!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Florida Day 6

Hello from St. Pete Beach! We arrived here around 1PM today and spent more time at the beach, of course! Because the beach looks much like all the others we've visited, we'll just leave you with a few pictures we caught tonight of the sunset. What a beautiful evening here!

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Florida Day 5

We started day 5 with breakfast at the Lighthouse Cafe. The cafe boasts that it serves the world's greatest breakfast. It was pretty tasty!After breakfast, we enjoyed more beach time. Today we ventured into the waves a bit further and Deedra had fun "shelling" in the water. After the beach, we had lunch at a cafe called "The Blue Giraffe" followed by a drive through the J.N. "Ding" Darling Nature Reserve. We learned that "Ding" was an Iowa native who worked for the Des Moines Register as a cartoonist. He was also a conservationist that lobbied for a nature reserve on Sanibel Island as the Island had become his winter home.
Tonight we enjoyed an Italian dinner at Matzaluna followed with dessert at the DQ. Justin felt right at home.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Florida Day 4

We left Clearwater this morning and traveled toward Ft. Myers. First stop, the Edison and Ford winter estates. We were able to tour the homes, gardens, laboratory and museum. If you know Justin and I, we greatly enjoy things such as this and soaked up the info and the surroundings. One thing we learned is that the two men became good friends and each year, Ford wanted to give Edison a new car. Edison, however, did not like to drive (his son most often drove him). So instead, Ford would update Edison's vehicle each year. This "updated version" is now in the museum. A few pictures follow from the tour. After the museum tour, we drove to Sanibel Island. Our hotel is pictured below as well as some of its colorful surroundings. The beach access from our hotel. After getting settled in at the hotel, we rented some bikes to take a mini tour of the island. It truly has an island feel-not congested, beautiful flowering trees, great bike paths (about 22 miles, we've read). It is truly something. We even biked to dinner at "The Island Cow!" Gerben and Julie-we were thinking of you! We finished our evening with a walk along the beach, joining many others in collecting sea shells. Sanibel Island is known as the sea shell capital of North America. Hammocks...a great end to the evening! Signing off from Sanibel.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Florida Day 3

Day 3 in Florida brought more fun in the sun. After sleeping in and a quick breakfast, we were off to Clearwater Beach. The beach had white, soft sand, beautiful water, and lots of families out early to enjoy the weather. We strolled through a few stores near the beachfront before making our way back to the hotel for naps. Tonight we drove to Tampa (about a 30 minute drive) to enjoy time at the International Plaza Mall and had dinner at The Cheesecake Factory. It's been another great, relaxing day! We continue to be amazed at the beauty God has created. Pier 60 at Clearwater Beach Justin looking alive... Justin not looking so alive... Yes, confession...Deedra is a little sunburnt! And no, she's not wearing two suits!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Florida Day 2

It was another great day in Florida. We started with breakfast at the Skinny Rooster. Thanks to Kristi O. for the suggestion! Breakfast was outside with nice shade cover and a beautiful pond. Upon return to the hotel, we took a guided tour to learn more about the history. The Belleview Biltmore first opened in January of 1897. Today it is the world's largest occupied wooden structure. We have also learned that it is closing on May 31 for renovations/restoration and will be closed for 2-3 years, they believe. While on the tour, we also learned that now President Obama and his staff stayed here at the hotel a few months prior to his presidential win. AND, he stayed just two doors down from where our room is!
Below is a photo of the tunnel system beneath the hotel. The tunnels were used by the servants as well as to move luggage to the freight elevator. Guests back in the day would often stay for four months at a time. Nanny's were brought with the families to watch the children and the nanny's were placed in the attic to sleep.
A library within the hotel.
More hotel pictures.
The rest of the day was spent at the beach. The sight you see below was our view for about three hours. Not to fear, Justin is not burnt!
And a final highlight, we enjoyed dinner at the Island Way Grill, suggested by a hotel van driver today. All we can say is AWESOME. We were lucky to be a part of the "early dinner crowd" getting a fantastic meal for a very low price. We already plan to go back before we head home.
Had to get a picture of this, we just don't see this in our hometown! A few fun photos to end the evening. We are LOST lovers, so we're tuning into that!!