The day after my birthday in New Orleans, we had to continue our journey to see the girls’ grandparents. With another eight hours on the road, we needed to tire the kids before departing so they would actually spend some time napping in the car. When we saw the Audubon Aquarium of the Americas by the Riverwalk, we knew it would be a good choice. At least it’d be air-conditioned.
Coming from Chicago, we’re used to rather impressive sea creature exhibits at the Shedd Aquarium. But when we moved to Austin and saw that its “aquarium” is this dank, dark hole located in some strip mall, we decided to stay away completely. Austin has many things going for it, but having a world-class zoo, aquarium, and museum is not one of them.
Which is why we couldn’t wait to take advantage of such attractions in other cities. After breakfast at a really cool space near the hotel, where the girls packed their bellies with Nutella and banana crepes, we made our way towards our last stop in the Big Easy.
ANOTHER EIGHT HOURS
(plus three more for our various stops)
Goodbye New Orleans!
They were movie zombies (thank you Disney!) for the second leg of our journey to Florida, also my favorite part of our trip. Not only were the girls especially good during these 8.5 hours on the road, but while they had their headphones on, My Guy and I distracted ourselves with an audiobook: Neil Gaiman’s “American Gods.” I read the book right after it was published years ago, but this was my first audio book experience ever, and I was rapt. We both were. It certainly made the journey far more interesting.
ST. AUGUSTINE - HERE AT LAST!
We made it to their grandparents at almost midnight, but the next morning, the girls didn’t waste any time jumping in their grandparents’ pool—you just can’t keep these girls away from the water. This was where Little Miss gained confidence and started swimming like a pro last September. This year, it is Pickle’s turn. After a week and many hours in this bath-water warm pool, she’s comfortable enough to swim from grownup to grownup without her swim vest. Progress!
Helping nana with dinner.
Papa, a golf pro, passes down the family legacy to the next generation.
At this hands-on old fort, we learned the history of St. Augustine and how the natives, the Timacuans, took advantage of locally sourced food and materials to survive. The girls dipped candles in lard, weaved with the help of their daddy and papa, played games made with corn and beach pebbles, and discovered the uses of many items from nature that the Timacuans used as equipment, utensils, and weapons.
Last year, the girls’ grandparents surprised them with Disney World. This time, it’s Sea World, and our girls were deliriously excited. More sea creatures! More rides! More adventures! Little Miss loved her thrill-rides. Even Pickle enjoyed the tiny roller coaster for kids her size. I was perfectly content to watch my family of thrill seekers from the sidelines. Somebody had to carry the bags and get the (overpriced) funnel cake, right?
So yes, we’ve been keeping busy, but even then, we are able to get some R&R in, which, in our case, means sleeping in every morning, thanks to an early-rising grandpa, who takes care of the girls who have no idea what sleeping in means, while we catch a few extra minutes of sleep. Well, hours, in this case, since we usually wake at 5AM to start work at our home office on weekdays. The girls bask in the attention from their grandparents, and we’re afforded some time to ourselves. We also managed to see three movies in the theaters; one family-friendly flick with the girls and the others with just grownups while they stayed home with their nana. We even got to venture into Jacksonville for some swanky cocktails and tapas on our date night.
Clearly, there’s a lot of indulging going on—Attention. Food. Time. Rest. A little and a lot of everything. Just like any great vacation should.