Florida in April!

While I was pregnant I had made up my mind that we would do whatever we could to go somewhere in April. Being a tax accountant, my maternity leave would be the only chance in my career to get away at tax time. So we settled on Florida. Sun ’N Fun was on our list of things to do and it worked out perfectly that it was taking place a couple weeks later than usual. Kurtis also really wanted to try and rent a sailboat for a few days to put into practice everything he had learned during the sailing course in the Bahamas in December.

We definitely got mixed reactions when we told various people our plans. About half thought we were crazy to travel with such a young infant, especially to go sailing. The other half said it would be the best time to travel with Hudson due to his “immobility”. Crazy or not, Kurtis and I love to travel and sharing new adventures with our little man is very important to us.   

Travelling now as a “flight of 3” was definitely a bit daunting. It was a whole new experience figuring out what to pack for Hudson. How many daytime outfits? How many nighttime outfits? (because you never know when “spit might happen”!) What paraphenalia did we need to bring and what could we live without? How were we going to deal with his formula on the road? etc. etc.

Our original plan was to fly to Florida on the airlines.  At just under 2 months at the beginning of our trip, we thought Hudson was just a bit too young for us to fly there in our 195.  We had hoped to take advantage of a deal that one of the airlines had offered other Nav Canada employees.  Long story short, the deal did not pan out and we ended up driving to Florida (okay, perhaps we are a little crazy 🙂 ).

We departed April 16 at 4:30PM and our plan was to try and make it as far as Pittsburg (or as far as the little man would allow).  After a couple stops at the beginning we managed to make it just south of Pittsburg for our first night.  The second day of driving was a long day because we wanted to make sure we got to St Petersburg by mid-afternoon on April 18.  We soon learned another benefit of bottle feeding formula – we could feed Hudson in his car seat while on the road!  We also got very good a diaper changing on the back seat during pit stops.  This definitely allowed us to get more miles in.

Thankfully we had a shorter distance to cover on the third day of driving.  I think we all were getting tired of being in the car so much.  Hudson was definitely a real trooper.  We arrived in St Petersburg in the mid-afternoon on April 18 and met up with Dennis and Jan at the hotel.  We all went to Chief’s Creole Cafe for dinner.  It was a really neat place – it was BYOB!  And the food was delicious.  After dinner we went grocery shopping to supply the sailboat for the next few days.

On April 19 we boarded the 39 foot Leopard catamaran we had rented and went sailing with the captain to make sure he was comfortable with us taking the boat on our own for the next few days.  It was a nice smooth sail out into Tampa Bay and then in got a bit windy and choppy on our way back to the marina.  I didn’t get sick, Hudson seemed to really enjoy the motion of the boat and at the end of the day the captain was comfortable for us to go “solo”!

We spent 2 nights at the marina in St Petersburg and 2 nights at anchor (one night in the Manatee river and one night just outside of St Pete’s Beach in Vina del Mar).  A couple of the days there wasn’t much wind so we ended up motor sailing for a bit and then just motoring to our destinations.  On one day that was very calm we managed to park the boat at a restaurant with water access.  Kurtis loves a challenge and managed to get the boat into a slip that maybe had one foot of extra space on either side of the boat.  It was certainly a tight squeeze.

Sailing is like glorified camping.  We had enjoyed it in December in the Bahamas pre-Hudson and it was a very enjoyable experience with Hudson.  Since he was so small he was pretty easy to look after on the boat.  He seemed to really enjoy the motion and sounds of the boat – they lulled him to sleep :).  The travel bed that we had for him was very handy and was the perfect place for him to nap on the back deck during the day.

On April 23 we returned the boat to St Petersburg marina.  We ended up motoring through a bit of a storm to get there.  Kurtis was at the helm and was completely drenched from the rain.  By the time we got back to the marina it was nice and sunny again.

The 5 of us loaded up the car and headed to Davenport, where we had rented a house for the remainder of our trip.  Pat was already there and Aubie and the kids arrived later that evening.  We soon had a house full!

The next two days were spent at Sun ’N Fun in Lakeland.  Kurtis had been to Sun ’N Fun several times but I had never had a chance to go since it is always held in April.  It was nice to finally be there and see what it was all about.  It was nice to visit with some of our 195 Club friends and also Dave & Pam Bruce and crew in charge of the Vintage aircraft parking.  The second night at the house we hosted a party for dinner and an early celebration of Leslie’s birthday.

Unfortunately the fun had to come to an end and we departed for Toronto in the morning on April 26.  At the beginning of the journey home we had spent 30 hrs, 5 min and 2830 kilometres in the car.  For the trip home we spread the drive out over three fairly even days to make it easier on all three of us.   By the time we pulled into our driveway in the afternoon on April 28 we had logged a total of 60 hrs, 25 mins and 4991 kilometres in the car.  Hudson did amazingly well!  We might just make a traveller out of him after all :).

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