Tag Archives: Ritz Carlton

Florida vacation to the rescue: part 1

18 Jun

Due to the overwhelming generosity of my in-laws, who own a house in Florida, I was able to take a two week vacation at the beach recently. I convinced my mom to drive down with me and Walt to enjoy a few extra days there since my husband has limited vacation days off of work. I have to admit, I was a little worried. My relationship with my mother can be a test at times, sometimes making a dinner feel like a long event. But we had such a good time that it felt like a miracle. I think it was the best time we’ve ever had together, and we got to experience some very cool things on top of that.

The drive down was pretty fun, although it was an extra hour longer than I would have liked because we had a disappointing stop at the Lane peach orchards. I am usually the biggest fan, as their peaches are always the sweetest and never mealy, but the bushel we got there was disappointing (they molded before they ever really ripened) and the lunch we ordered was downright awful, including them putting chicken on my vegetarian mother’s salad. It is also inevitable that whenever I drive down to Florida I hit a bad rainstorm. The only segment of the drive where I personally drove, we went through this terrible storm where I couldn’t see anything, was terrified, and my mom kept telling me to drive faster. Her car is newer than mine and much more sensitive to the touch, so I was just happy to be on the other side of the storm alive.

Road Trip!
Road trip!

We got to the house late, and Walter hadn’t really napped, so he was running around like a crazy boy at 9:30pm and ended up falling down the last couple of stairs while we were unpacking the car. He was fine, but it scared him enough to be careful the rest of the trip!

The next morning it started pouring. It poured the entire time the AC guys replaced a giant coil in the unit, which would have been expensive but my FIL is a master at negotiation and got them to extend the warranty thus saving himself thousands of dollars. Cool. And we put together the all-terrain wagon.

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Made lugging stuff to the beach so easy!

It stopped raining long enough for a beautiful evening walk to the beach, where there were so many live creatures washed ashore it was neat. We rescued conchs, found a starfish, saw the little sand slugs burrowing back into the sand…

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It looked like writing.

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Learned to wash his hands in the surf!

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I am happy at the beach!

Day two we took advantage of a friend’s membership at the Ritz Carlton nearby. Last year we had so much fun in their salt water pool and on the beach chairs with the great service, but this year Walter hadn’t gotten a lot of sleep (we were sharing a room and tried to share a bed and he had never not slept in a crib/pack-n-play before) and he was, to be honest, a pill. He cried in the pool. He said “No” a lot. But we had a good time anyway.

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We tried to take a nap.

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Walt eventually enjoyed playing in the surf with Nini, and I got to relax and read!

Walt sat in Nini’s lap the whole time we watched Up. He had never sat through an entire movie before. When the old man threw all his furniture out of the house near the end, Walt got so upset (“Oh no, what happened!?” with big tears) that we had to pause the movie and explain to him what was going on!

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He won’t leave that lip alone!

The third day we went to the beach near the house and sat in camping chairs in the surf, which was amazing. We built sand castles. We ate at home a lot that week, but also enjoyed an evening at Dry Dock Grill — yum. Best key lime pie and fish tacos ever. We saw the most incredible sunset, which I tried to find again the rest of the two weeks we were there but failed, even though they’re all pretty awesome.

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Tashi loved it out there too.

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I love walking the beach in the evening, especially with my boy.

My mom also introduced me to Jane the Virgin, a hysterical show I am currently finishing with Dave. The last day we tried swimming at the house but Walt cried. I think he was missing his dad, with whom he usually swims. Walt even asked to go home but stopped after I told him daddy would be there tomorrow. After such a blissful time with my mom, I was sad to see her leave, but she drove down to Miami to spend a few days with my brother and his family too. All in all, a great start to a great vacation. I was ready to see my husband though! I’m not sure we had spent that much time apart since 2008!

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Longboat Key

12 Aug

It has been a welcome whirlwind of vacations this past month. And now back to reality. But a different kind of reality. Walter started preschool for the first time this week, and he loved, loved, loved it! And mama loves having this time for herself too! Last week,  however, we got to enjoy the beach all week long. A whole, glorious week of eating, napping, and playing in the sun.

Walter didn’t always enjoy car rides. When he was an itty bitty thing, he would scream like he was being tortured every second he was in the car. It made it hard to leave the house. Switch to 2014 Walter, and he doesn’t make an 8 1/2 hour drive worse than an 8 1/2 hour drive already is.

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We’ll keep his seat turned around as long as he’ll let us.

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One day that will be an iPad.

We’re extremely lucky that’s Dave’s parents have a [super nice] beach house and that they want us to use it. I invited my parents to join us; my mom drove down the same day we did, and my dad flew in the next day. Having my mom there really helped it feel like a vacation since she would get up with Walter in the mornings and change his diaper and other awesome things like that.

IMG_20140803_115231929Walt and his Nini

Jan and Frank gave us several restaurant recommendations, and we tried as many as we could. The first night we went to the Dry Dock Grill. It had a beautiful view and the best fish tacos and black beans I’ve ever had. If you have a boat, you can pull right up to the restaurant to park.

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The beach started out unbearably hot, and I was afraid we had gone too far south to have any fun. The sand was scorching, the sun melting, and the ocean felt like a steamy bath. We only stayed out there a couple minutes before I wanted to go back in. But the next day it was cooler, and the day after that cloudy, and we could really enjoy ourselves.

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Beach babes.

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He knows how to relax like a champion.

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And play in the sand.

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David started digging to Australia, and Walt liked that.

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He loved being buried after we filled the hole back in so we didn’t kill any beach walkers or sea turtles.

The second night we went to Owen’s Fish Camp in Sarasota, where the bourbon pecan pie was gone in seconds (oh yeah, the fish was good too). And dad found a new best friend. The atmosphere was very fun.

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There is nothing like a vacation where you are also puzzling. Jan got this one for me for Christmas several years ago, and it ended up being really fun to put together. I have a new favorite brand now. I admit, I am a puzzle snob, because if the quality isn’t good, it’s not very fun putting pieces together if you’re not sure they actually go together. So I usually go Ravensburger or Suns Out (which can be spotty). But Pomegranate Puzzles have very fun pictures, and my mom even spilled a bottle of water over most of the pieces, and they didn’t fall apart. Now that’s sturdy.

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My parents had dinner one night with my dad’s business friend who lives in Sarasota, and he and his wife kindly set it up for us to visit the Ritz Carlton on Lido Key on their membership. For many years, due to a family friend who worked for the Ritz, we were able, when I was growing up, to spend several Florida vacations at various Ritz locations (and once in Barcelona too). Not only is it extremely nice there, but it made me nostalgic for my teenage summers spent with my friend Kate on the beach. It reminded me just how nice I had it and continue to have it!

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It was a salt water pool, which tastes weird if you’re used to chlorine.

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Walt feels at home wherever he is.

We’ve had Walter in pools before, but it was at the Ritz that Walt, Dave, and I had our first real fun time in a pool. I had just ordered Walt some water wings, and it was fun to get Walt used to swimming by himself. Walt didn’t really like being let go in the ocean, but he had a blast floating around the pool, and we even dunked him a few times. He took to the water like a fish. We swam a lot after that since the beach house also has a pool!

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Kicking and all!

We had a great time, and I was sad to have to come back home. We did manage to avoid an extra hour’s worth of traffic on 75 by taking a detour on what looked like the road in the movie Jurassic Park.

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Our smart phones knew where to take us but Garmin wasn’t sure we were even on roads.

After Bartow, Nashville, my birthday, and Longboat Key, it’s been an eventful month!