One thing I can say about our stay in Florida before we left Disney is that it never felt like we saw any of the state itself. The conference was almost entirely indoors and Disney, well, that's almost another planet. Does it even qualify as part of Florida? And if you read the last three posts, you'll have noticed the frenetic pace. The posts are paced about the same way each day was.
For the most part, there wasn't anything harried about our visit, but it wasn't exactly slow and restful either. And then we left Orlando and drove a couple of hours through some nasty thunderstorms and traffic to Longboat Key, near Sarasota. Ahhhh! Now that's better!Some family friends of Daddy's live there and since he hadn't seen them in many, many years we went for a visit. What a great idea it was! I might not have thought to come here, but I wouldn't hesitate to go back.
Portions of the key are barely wider than the road that runs down its middle, so there is beach everywhere. And we were delighted to arrive just in time for a delicious dinner and a beautiful sunset on the bayou that serves as their backyard.It was so nice to have great company in someone's home. It's a fantastic house, full of amazing artwork and unbelievably kid-friendly...unbelievable until you know the hostess is a retired kindergarten teacher with four grandkids of her own anyway.
We spent the evening catching up and telling stories, then got up in the morning and our hostess guided us out to the beach where she taught the kids a little about different kinds of shells.There are so many things to recommend the beaches on the west coast of Florida over the beaches on the west coast of the United States. For starters, they're on the Gulf of Mexico, so the water is actually warm and fun to swim in. This particular beach also serves as a sea turtle hatchery. So you can spot little roped-off areas where nests are buried in the sand.How cool is that?
Then there are the shells.If you've walked the beaches in California or points northward, you've probably never found the volume or variety of shells the kids picked up on this beach. And I mean VOLUME. I was a little worried about exceeding the weight limit on our suitcases trying to transport all the shells Mam found completely indispensable. The shell collecting was far less annoying than the confetti collecting at the theme parks, but confetti is a whole lot less cumbersome to carry.When we arrived back at the house, we hosed off and jumped in the pool before lunch. This guy came to visit the pool a short time later. Cool little heron.While daddy and I packed for the very last leg of the trip, the kids had a grand time playing games with our host and hostess in their downstairs room. It's so very refreshing to visit people who take an interest in the kids and don't have kids themselves! Both Smunch and Mam had many kind words for them after we left.Really. Why does it have to be after we leave, kids?
One last photo of daddy with our gracious hosts. Having never met these people I didn't want to take too much advantage of their hospitality, but now I wish we'd been able to stay longer. The visit was much too short, but I guess that leaves everyone hoping to see each other again before too long. And that's a good thing.