Wow! What a great vacation we had. We got back yesterday and there’s a ton of laundry and shopping and bill paying to do and the pets are puking all over the house to make us feel bad for leaving them, but I don’t care. I had a real vacation!
The trip started out on a good note when I went shopping for shorts and actually bought a real two-piece swim suit for the first time in many years. I’ve been wearing the mommy suits for a while, and even though I’m still about 15 pounds overweight, I finally felt confident enough to buy something that wouldn’t prompt children to ask me, “Is that a bathing suit or a dress?”
We spent the majority of the time in St. Petersburg, Florida, where Adam’s parents live. They have a beautiful house with a yard and pool like a resort. The weather was actually quite nice for this time of year so we got a lot of good swim time in. The bad part was the mosquitoes. Both Sam and I got chewed up pretty badly. I have a new love for lizards, though. They came out in droves at dusk and did their best to eat up the mosquitoes. I’ve never seen so many lizards, even having grown up in LA. Walking down the sidewalk, you’d see dozens of them scurrying away from you every few yards. Sam was very excited, especially when one got in the house. LOOK, MOMMY. LIZARD! LIZARD IN THE HOUSE! For some reason, a lizard in the house was just about the most exciting thing she had ever seen. Cute.
As always, Adam’s stepmom remembered our favorite foods. There was always a ready supply of pistachio nuts for me, and she made us steak and crab legs for dinner our first night there. (Crab legs are both mine and Adam’s favorite food.) I also got to drive Adam’s dad’s BMW convertible (I think it is the 335i). Sweet!
We took Sam to t he beach. It wasn’t her first time, but last time she was only 3 months old, so I guess you could say it was a new experience for her. She was really excited to go since we missed our chance in North Carolina a few weeks ago. After parking our car, we had to walk through a narrow path through the brush to get to the sandy beach. When we came out of the pathway onto the wide open expanse of sand, Sam immediately squatted down and started running the sand through her fingers. If we didn’t make her get up and move along, I think she would have been happy to stay in that one spot, and she probably never would have even cast a glance at the ocean.
As it was, she got to play in the sand and in the water, and she loved it. Adam enjoyed just walking down the shore hand-in-ha nd with Sam. I think that was one of his images of fatherhood, finally realized. The beach was lovely, with fine, white sand, a lot of shells, and gentle surf, this being the Gulf of Mexico side of Florida. I found it restful to my wound-up psychology to be somewhere where the water is in its proper place - to the West.
Adam and I left Sam with the grandparents for our 2 day “adult” vacation to Sarasota. (If you have kids and haven’t had a vacation from them, you’re missing out on something very important. Call up your parents today and make arrangements!) We’ll definitely be going back to Sarasota - it’s a great place. We stayed at a hotel on Longboat Key, right on the beach facing the Gulf. We slept in, drank Pina Coladas and Mojitos, rented Wave Runners, and just floated around in the ocean. We met a couple of cranky old men and we had a gripe session about the state of the country. They were both self declared die-hard conservatives, but one of them voted for Obama because he wanted “change.” I gu ess I didn’t really believe that whole phenomenon truly existed until I heard him say it. Even more unbelievable, though, was that one of those crusty guys said we should go back to the gold standard. We speculated on whether the country would collapse into dictatorship or Texas would secede. They were a lot of fun, and one of them took this picture for us.
We ate two excellent dinners at St. Aramand’s Circle, a touristy place for shopping and eating on the next island over, Lido Key. The first night it was Spanish/Cuban food at a place that reminded me of our days in New Orleans. Sea Bass that tasted like lobster, mussels, and a dish of scallops and chorizo left us no room for desert. The next night it was crab legs and stuffed meatloaf, with a slice of real Key Lime pie for dessert. Beautiful food.
We watched TV in the middle of the day and enjoyed not planning out our days around nap-time. We ate whenever we got hungry, which meant that we were able to have dinner at 8:30pm, which seemed positively decadent, after 3 years of dinner at 6:30. The hotel’s outdoor bar had a mascot - an egret crane named Madonna. She was bold and beautiful and we enjoyed ruminating on the diversity of life on this planet while eating crab cakes and watching her walk around with her knees bending backwards and her strange, floating grace. The couple next to us must have overheard us because then we overheard them discussing how interesting it is that man is the only species who tries to destroy himself. While it is true that humans are more capable of self destruction (both individually and as a species) than other animals, the mindset that chooses to focus on that rather than the glory and greatness that the rational mind can achieve is something that I’ll never understand. It’s pathetic.
Sam missed us, but by all reports, she did just fine without us for those 2 days. She also was her usual easygoing self when it came to traveling. She didn’t use many of the travel toys I bought her because she just liked the experience of the airport and the flight. This was the first time that I can say for sure that she knew that we were GOING UP HIGH when we were in the airplane. She saw the ground below and the clouds and she understood. That was cool. I actually enjoy being at the airport with that girl. She makes it all a grand adventure. The escalators, the people movers, the pictures of crabs and turtles on the carpeted floor in the Tampa airport, the airport play areas, the new foods and drinks, the buses and trains that get you around the airport - all of it is just fun when I’m with my daughter. I especially liked it when we entered the airplane and I told her to take a quick look as we passed by the cockpit. The stewardess said, “Go ahead and take a closer look. Charlie’s up there and he won’t mind.” Sam walked right in, looked at the pilot and said, HI CHARLIE.
It was a relaxing trip but we’re still exhausted now that it’s over. But in a good way.