Wednesday, August 26, 2015

My Family Summer 2015 Vacation

My Family Summer 2015 Vacation by A Crafty Arab
My family and I just returned from a family vacation in Florida. We rented a car and drove a circle from Miami to Key West to Naples to Orlando to Cape Canaveral to Ft. Lauderdale. We took two weeks on our adventure, visiting with old friends, meeting new friends, and having a marvelous time.

I wanted to share some of the highlights from our trip. We took hundreds of photos and will be paring down the best ones for a family scrapbook. These photos are just some of best parts from our trip.

We landed at the Miami airport and I was in love with this rainbow wall that lead to the car rental terminal.

Hello Miami!

After landing, we headed to Ft. Lauderdale for the night. We had dinner on a restaurant that was on the water and enjoyed a beautiful sunset.

Hubs wants that yacht, and that one, and that one, and that one, and
Our first morning in Florida was my birthday, so my youngest presented me with a rainbow and ring set she had created for me on the plane. I had asked my family to not give me any presents because I didn't want to carry extra stuff so I was so surprised when she gave me the gift. It was thoughtful and lovely. "They are perfect because rainbow goes with everything," she said. "No, they are perfect because you made them." I countered.

After breakfast, we drove around Miami, mostly on highway 1 heading south. We stopped along the way and had lunch not to far away from these funny statues of Arabs and their camels. The building behind them was vacant. We spent the rest of the day in South Beach before heading back to Miami to have dinner with an old college friend of mine.

I found my peeps! No word on favorite hangouts tho :(

The next morning we headed to Key West, which has been on my bucket list ever since I lived in Florida over 20 years ago. The drive was long and the kids were bored. I started to rip apart the AAA guide and asked them to create origami art for me. By the time we made it to Key West across all the other keys and bridges, the dashboard of the car was covered in folded paper of furniture, animals, stars and balloons.

Future long road tips will now require origami books.

Key West was beautiful, but alas, our only night there was marred by a torrential downpour that sent all the tourist scurrying and all the locals street vendors packing it early for the night. The girls felt right at home, as if it were any other Seattle day. We had already eaten dinner on the road and had gone down to the Historical District for ice cream only. Our youngest had the best time splashing in the roadways.

We decided to not leave right away the next morning and spent some time relaxing in the pool. I got to do some watercolor painting while enjoying the sounds of children laughing. This was one of my most relaxing moment on the trip.

Painting watercolor postcards for friends

A sample of a few of the postcards. Did you get one?
On a recommendation from my college, we decided to drive a little further north of Key Largo and find a little hole in the wall restaurant off the beaten path. What a surprise when a wild manatee swam up to our dock table and said hello. I must admit I was awestruck by the shear size (almost like a refrigerator!) of this guy but sad to see so many scars across his back.
Would you happen to have any floating hyacinth?

We left the keys and headed for the Everglades National Forest, only to realize that our National Forest Pass was still in Seattle. We decided not to go in and drove through the Everglades to find a local alligator farm. While we were driving, I was expecting to see Beware of Alligator signs, but instead saw Beware of Large Car signs!

Make sure your windows are closed!

Once we had our fill of alligators, we headed to the gulf coast and had dinner in Naples. The next morning and afternoon were spent having fun at Venice Beach. While there, I found 3 prehistoric shark teeth. Soon enough, everyone was ready to leave the beach and head to theme parks!

A full day in the sun makes for some sleepy girls.

Not many people know that I actually did my college internship at Walt Disney World and received my Ducktorate Degree. I had a terrific time working at WDW and still keep in contact with some friends. 

It was nice to connect with one of them while at Disney and spend a few minutes catching up. He was able to pull a few magic strings to get us an exceptional room at the Grand Floridian.  Coincidently, the Grand Floridain was the hotel where my Disney roommate worked. I never went to see her there when we lived together, I'm sure she's happy that I finally made it since she visited me at work many times!

Disneyworld's Grand Floridain is top notch

We spent four days in the most magical palce on earth, starting with Epcot. We started in the front area and then spent our time walking around the lagoon, stopping and taking photos of so many marvelous things, including these Hand of Fatimas on a red door at the Morocco pavilion. They were so beautiful.
Einee, Menee, Minee, Mo
The next morning we split our day between Animal Kingdom and Hollywood Studios. There was quite a bit of construction at AK, however, it was so nice to see the panels covered up with positive Disney quotes.
Get off your tukas and start!

A trip to the Hollywood Studios in never complete unless you go to Muppet 3D, my favorite attraction in all the parks.
So excited to share my favorite attraction with my girls finally
Our last day at the park was spent at the Magical Kingdom, where everyone got new (and traded) pins for their lanyards and all was well in the world.
Waldorf and Statler are together, reunited on separate trades

Right before we left the magic, I ducked into the closest restroom and was struck by this arabesque tiled wall. It reminded me of how important it is to make sure every detail of your brand is on point. Everywhere that we had been that day, every detail had to do with the area. For example, Futureland was all about the shiny and new, while at Frontierland was woodsy and dark. It's the little attention to detail that really makes this place so special.

What a beautiful quatrefoil mosaic detail in the restroom.

The following day we found ourselves at Universal Studios, staying at the Cabana Bay. One of the perks of staying there is the access to the parks one hour earlier then regular admissions. While my girls ran to the Harry Potter world, I loitered after noticing this pineapple bank rickshaw by the entrance with this stunning khatam design. I think I must have had arabesque on the brain because then I started to notice all the other places this style came on display.

Khatam design found on a pineapple bank rickshaw.
While in one of the shops in either Diagon Alley or Meads something (sorry, I haven't read the books!), I came across this Moroccan arabesque lamp on display in the store window. It fit in so well with the Harry Potter theme.
Not for sale, sadly.

After two days of Universal Studios, we headed for the coast and Cape Canaveral. I was exhausted after six days of theme parks and begged off any more tours. Plus when I was in my teens, I had visited the Kennedy Space Center with my own baba and really wanted to have the girls experience it with their baba. I took my youngest, headed to Ron Jon's for boogie boards and hit the beach while the older two went with their dad to see space ships.

Making sure science is stull fun on vacation.
We spent our last two days on the beach, boogie boarding and meeting new friends. I had connected with a fellow mommy blogger, Mama-Tortuga, on Multicultural Kids Blog, who lives in the area before I left for vacation. It was nice to have a playdate with her kids before we started the long trip home.
Spending the day with new MKBKids friends

The day we left, an alert went out for Tropical Storm Erica and the rains again returned with full force.

I will miss the swish swish sound of palm leaves
As we were leaving, I couldn't resist placing my daughter on the other end of the rainbow at Miami airport for another photo.
Goodbye Miami!
I just wanted to give a little shot out to my middle daughter that carried 72 packets of these little toiletries we collected at our hotels. We always bring them home from our travles to donate to domestic violence shelters. In her backpack, she carried 16 shampoos, 13 conditioners, 3 lotions, 2 foot scrubs, 5 body washes, 32 bars of soap and 1 shower cap!
Pretty bottles all lined up

No comments:

Post a Comment