Thursday, March 9, 2017

Murphy Florida Vacation 2017

It comes once every 2 years and is a vacation that everyone looks forward to.  Our biannual trip to Florida with the Murphy parents.  We drive down, rent a house, and try to plan a few things that are fun day trips.  Last time we were on the go a lot.  This time, the children were really wanting more time at the house to swim, so we decided we would only have a couple days to get away that were planned, other than that, we just lived one day at a time and soaked up all the sun.

 Since my parents drive also, it's nice for the children to take turns riding with them.  It breaks up the long trip a bit, along with stopping in Georgia at a hotel for the night.  Since we don't have video accessibility in our van, the children do a lot of different things to pass the time.  They play the license plate game, the alphabet game, Benaiah practiced his reading on different billboards, we sang a lot, they looked at books, we played I Spy with things out the window (Saphi's version is different than most versions of I Spy but works well for a trip), and we make up games (in the picture above, Saphira is using 2 cups as her rocket controls).

We arrived at the house in good time.  It was time for supper, so I had prepared chicken burritos ahead, and popped those in the oven for supper while we began unpacking and making the house our home for 2 weeks.  After unpacking and eating supper, the children didn't hesitate to get in the pool.  I don't know what the temperature was of the pool all week, but it was so warm and amazing that everyone made sure to enjoy every day.  
February 5, 2017
The first morning most everyone wanted to stay at the house and swim after being cooped up  in the vans for 2 days.  My dad wanted to start fishing, so he and my mom planned to go to the pier in Venice early in the morning.  I was looking forward to fishing as well, so I took the opportunity to go without children.  It was quiet with only a few, older men fishing too, but after some conversation with them, we learned they were from Middlebury and Syracuse, IN.  Small world.  We caught a few pinfish like in the picture above, but other than that, nothing else was biting.  We did enjoy watching a dolphin roll around in the water right under where we were fishing off the pier.  I loved that so much and wished the children could've seen it too.  

After we got back to the house, the others decided they wanted to go to the beach to do some shark tooth hunting.  It was a gorgeous day with not much wind (the morning was beautiful out on  the pier), so it wasn't hard to want to go back to the ocean to spend a couple hours in the afternoon.  My parents always come prepared with plenty of sifters and usually come up with some other contraptions for getting the teeth.  Some ideas work great, others not so much.  :)

 I'm pretty sure Diella and my dad could shark tooth hunt all day.

 This is the pier at Venice Beach.

One thing we enjoy about this area is that it has one of the few dog beaches in the area.  It's a short walk on the beach from the pier, as you can see from the second picture down.  We LOVE walking there and watching all the dogs play in the water and with each other.
 This big boy was finding whoever he could to give him lovins.

 An amazing water fort/castle, moat.  :)  They had a ball building this and watching the water run in and out.  

February 6, 2017
Today we spent the day at the house.  After a full first day at the ocean, the children were really ready to veg at the house.  The pool usually got swam in every day if not a couple times a day.  

 This is how Benaiah sun bathes.  :)

 The book I read during this vacation recharged me to come home and serve my sisters.

 A good workout swim, then laying in the sun to read and dry off, was my daily routine in the afternoon.  Sometimes I had someone join me, and sometimes I had it all to myself.  

My dad is a real swimmer and enjoyed playing with the children.  Jonathon bought a set of scuba gear for the children to practice with in the pool.  I wish I would've got a picture, but I was in the pool when it happened.  My dad and Benaiah both had goggles and my dad had the breathing thing on the face mask, and they were both swimming around the pool with their get up on.  It was pretty cute in all it's swimming geekiness. :)

We ended our evening watching the Kid's Baking Challenge which is something we all enjoy watching.  There were a few evenings of watching things that we don't get to watch here at home, so that was a treat as well.

February 7, 2017
This day was one of our preplanned days.  We decided to drive over the highway north of Bradenton over to Fort DeSoto.  It didn't cost to go into the fort to tour, but there were toll charges for the bridge and certain sections of the highway and to get into the park.  

 We enjoyed watching the birds and this osprey was the closest that we got to one.  There was a bonus with this one as it had just caught its lunch and was eating the fish while it perched up on the light pole.  

 A lighthouse on the island.
Onto the fort and it's amazingness!

 We do enjoy the many different creatures that we see in Florida that we don't have back home in Indiana.  :)
 After our self guided tour of the fort, we grabbed our lunch we packed and headed to the pier that was in this park.  This pier wasn't free so the children and my dad were the only ones who could fish.  My dad got a license so he'd be set to fish wherever he pleased.  We just fished on the Free pier in Venice.  
Benaiah caught his first Florida fish, a little pin fish.  He proved to be quite the fisherman on this trip.

 On our way back to the Sarasota area, we swung by another museum called the Florida Agriculture Museum.  It was free will donation and displayed many ways of farming and what all Florida has been used for agriculturally.  It was very interesting since we don't grow tropical things in our area.  Florida is also a big state for cattle, which we are interested in, but different kinds and in different ways.  Very interesting to read about.
 The little girls enjoying a floor puzzle.

 They explained how cattle are branded and gave some examples from different ranches in the area.  Then we could make our own branding.  My mom came up with the one below for our family. The number 8 next to a line to look like a "B" for our last name.  She's pretty clever.

 What are these tools used for.  We did pretty good with identifying them.  Was only stumped by a couple.

February 8, 2017
We kind of split up this day and did our own thing.  Some decided to check out Caspersen beach area that is known for shark teeth and do some fishing, while the rest of us stayed at the house.   

The boys and Saphira...

 It's always a nice time for us to do out on a date while my parents are right there to help with children.  We both got certificates for Ophelia's on the Bay which was a fancy place on the water.  We went first and gave them our review.  It was absolutely delicious food with an amazing view.  I felt pampered to say the least and enjoyed my time out with Jonathon.

We finished out date by going to a bookstore and reading books at our leisure.  Doesn't seem like much of a date but I was finishing up with a cold, and when you don't have children with you, those small things are really enjoyable!

February 9, 2017
This day was a real low key day.  We stayed at the house and did nothing but swim, lay in the sun, and relax.  
One thing that was a big part of every day was family devotions.  Most of the time we did them in the morning but a couple times if someone left early in the morning to fish or do a day trip, we would do them in the afternoon.  Jonathon took portions from the book The  Garden of Gratitude and turned them into short readings and stories.  This was a great reminder to us throughout the week to be thankful and treat others with kindness.  Every morning my mom (and sometimes all of us together) would choose a word that described or was the focus of that day's devotion.  She would cut them out of the colored paper and then tape them to the window in the dining room that overlooked the pool area.  It was always right in front of us to remind us of what we should keep our focus on.  

Who doesn't want "free donuts".  We did that one to see if the guys were paying attention and would notice.  :)

Perspective was clever since everyone has a different perspective on life.  From the inside the word looked backwards, but from the outside it was the right direction.  It was also made with different colors of paper, to show that we all see life in different ways.  

February 10, 2017
This morning we all decided to get up and head to Caspersen Beach to fish and see if we can get more shark teeth.  Some of them might be addicted to shark tooth hunting.  :)  Well, it was really chilly and some of us decided to go back to the house in a short amount of time.  

 Jonathon  likes to check the rocks for fun creatures that have gotten stuck.  No good finds this time.

 A cold but still sunny morning.

February 11, 2017
This day was a relaxed, do what we wanna do day.  There was an aquarium pet shop a short walk from our house, so my family ventured out to walk to that.  It was so much fun with lots of different salt water fish and creatures.  The rest of the day we lazied around at the house and in the pool, then late afternoon my dad wanted to go to the pier to do some fishing.  We knew we'd catch the sunset, which we hadn't done yet on the trip, so we all loaded up and headed to the beach.  It was a gorgeous evening!!

February 13, 2017
We wanted to take family pictures, which most everyone dreads.  We decided to make a day of it and head to a botanical garden that was free.  We're all about free stuff if you hadn't figured that out yet.  :)  We visited Palma Sol Botanical Garden north of Bradenton and had a lovely time there.  




 We went into the little visitor center to see if there were any brochures or other information and there happened to be a piano in there and 2 older, very friendly ladies.  They asked if anybody played, so we encouraged the piano players in the family to play a  piece.  Alegra and Josiah both played, which was a big step for mostly Josiah to play in front of others and without preparing something.  He can be shy, but he's growing and gaining in strength in this area.

Just down the road from the botanical garden was a nature preserve that I thought might have some nice spots for pictures but really had no idea what was in this park.  My parents stayed back at the vehicles while the rest of us took a walk.  We were in the hot sun and walking a long distance so you can imagine that happiness that came from all involved.  :)  I was happy.  It was a beautiful day and I had my whole family together checking out more of Florida that we don't get to see in our neck of the country.  We saw some pretty cool things too while on our walk.

 We couldn't get the baby to stay in a picture, so I'd hold her until we thought it was getting close to take a picture and then I'd let her go.  We never knew where she'd end up.  :)  Just glad it wasn't in the water.  :D

 Candid shots are the best. 

 Some of them climbed the lookout tower that was there.  It had some wonderful views.  I was happy to stay down and enjoy the breeze and views from down below.

 On the far side of the tree line is the ocean.  
 The opposite direction of the ocean was this vast land of areas that had flooded and the creatures that live there.

 We had the most fun watching the bird who stood perfectly still for a long time.  Then he started waving his neck back and forth.  He began taking very slow steps while he continued to wave his neck.  There were fiddler crabs all over the place there and I explained that he's making himself look like a plant to not scare them away.  We watched him for a long time until he finally quickly pecked down and snatched up a crab.  Amazing how they know what to do and can thrive because of that natural instinct.

This little crab was right in the middle of the path and gave us a good laugh.  Somebody spied it and we almost stepped on it, but we thought it might be dead.  We all gathered closely around it to look at it and see if it was really dead.  All of a sudden the thing bolted out of it's little pit and went scurrying towards Diella and Saphira.  Diella grabbed Saphira by the head so fast and drug her back without even thinking what she was doing.  Some way of protecting the little sister.  Oh we laughed at that, since Saphira wasn't hurt by the violent rescue.  :)

February 14, 2017
I wasn't entirely happy with the family pictures that we got the day before.  So before heading out to Manisota Beach (Diella read it was the best for shark tooth hunting), I hesitantly asked if we could try pictures again.  Maybe there would be a better lighting area there.  There were only a few grumbles but most cooperated and I prayed that it would go smoothly and wouldn't be a big ordeal.  We packed a cooler with lunch food and snacks and grabbed beach clothes and all the fishing, shark tooth hunting, sand gear and headed out.  I try to live by living life with no regrets, and I was so afraid that if we didn't try pictures one more time, I would regret making everyone go through the torture two days in a row.  I'm soooo glad we did it, and I think everyone else is equally as glad with the pictures we ended up capturing. 

 Okay, so getting set up for a picture isn't an easy task with this crew.  But it is entertaining.

 Everyone is happy and smiling... even our little Hadassah cooperated perfectly!

 Preparing for the silly pictures.  
Which I said we would do if everybody did great for the nice ones.  

 And again, even Hadassah cooperated and was silly too.
We didn't know that my parents kissed in the first picture. 
 Then we did it in the second picture.  Too funny!
Back to the van to change, eat lunch, and gather our gear for the beach.  Everyone was happy for pictures this time around.  Yay!!!

 Alegra had a list of things she wanted to take pictures of, so she worked on that a little.

Benaiah has grown into quite the fisherman.  He casts like a pro and is really quite cute doing what he does.  He didn't catch anything that day though.

 This is looking like a tourist for sure.  My dad and all his gear! :)

Hadassah wasn't very happy about the water, so we worked on that whenever we were at the beach.  I"m not sure she ever got used to the idea of it.  

 Jonathon and I decided to take a walk along the water down where there weren't as many people.  It was a long walk, but quiet and peaceful and discussion was good and adultish.  :)  On our way back to everyone else, I said, "You know what would make this day perfect?  If there would be a dolphin right out there off the shore for the children to see."  We were almost back to everyone when my dad pointed out to the water and said, "There's a porpoise".  Sure enough.  But there wasn't just one, there was two.  Jonathon looked at me, and we both smiled, and I said a heartfelt thanks to God for hearing my very simple and unimportant prayer and answering it so quickly, just to bless our day even more than it had already been.  The picture isn't close enough, but you can see it slightly in the distance.

 Shark tooth hunting was indeed the best we'd ever done at this beach.  They calculated 354 teeth found.  I think they were quite pleased with their finds.  
 My sweet beach girlies.

 I can only take so much of keeping the baby from eating sand and shells and sitting on the beach doing nothing.  On Jonathon and I's walk, I noticed these fun sticks with shells on them that people put up by the grasses.  So, I found a stick and set out looking for shells with holes to decorate it with.  It appealed to my artsy side and made a cute place for Hadassah to get her picture taken.  

 Everybody with hands full headed back to the vans to close a very wonderful day.

February 16, 2017
We spent the 15th at the house all day, swimming and sun bathing, and after asking everybody what one thing they would like to do before we have to go home, Manasota Beach won out again.  Alegra had more pictures she wanted to take, Diella wanted to do more shark tooth hunting, and the boys took the football to play on the beach.   When we were leaving on the 14th, my m om and I took a different trail back to the van than the rest of our group, and just off the trail we saw a big iguana.  Well, when we went back, my dad asked about the iguanas and some maintenance guys said that a few years back they had to thin them out because they were so thick.  Needless to say, to we kept our eyes peeled for them now since the children didn't get to see them the first time we were there.  On this day we saw them everywhere.  It was a good lesson for the children that they were there all along but we didn't know it so we weren't looking for them.  Once we knew they were there, we could spot them easily and everywhere.  

 We also enjoyed watching this turtle that chose to live in the hole that an iguana dug out.  I guess this is what they do.  The iguana digs the holes (now we know why there were so many holes all over the park) and the turtles move in with the iguanas.  There was an iguana in this hole, but it was back in too far to see.  

 Though the sun was shining and the water was blue, we could tell that there was red tide in the air.  As soon as we got out of the van we all started coughing.  My dad was the only one familiar with it, so he said to breathe through our noses and that helps.  It did but even just talking made us cough.  I decided to help Alegra get some of her photo list done, so she didn't go home regretting that she didn't try the different poses and Diella got in a little tooth hunting.  After that, we decided to go back to the house, because it just wasn't enjoyable and the baby was coughing the most.
 Saphira is always looking for treasure and loves to have maps.  My mom took along some chocolate treasure to hide in the sand for her to dig up.  

 My dad the ocean man.

 The red tide must have got to my brain because I made this say "2012".  Alegra had to point it out to me and I tried to change the 2 to a 7 just in time before the water came and washed it all away.  

 Alegra said, "I want a picture of someone little splashing or running through the water".  Okay, let's go Saphi!  I grabbed her hand and away we ran.  This is one of my favorite pictures of the whole trip.  Do we regret going and coughing all over from red tide?  Nope, not when we captured fun moments like this.  
Our grand total of shark teeth.  This is Alegra's very neat and orderly way of counting them.
After everyone swam and we had supper, we ended the evening singing together while Jonathon played his guitar.  He played throughout the weeks, but we never just sat around all of us and sang and that was on my mom's list of what she wanted to do before we left.  When we finished, I asked the children if they preferred that or would have rather watched one of their favorite shows.  They all voted for singing together.  That makes my heart swell.

February 17, 2017
Our last day in Florida and my dad still wanted to do more fishing before we left.   I wanted to also, so we all headed once again to Venice, to the pier.  

 Another beautiful day, but the red tide was bad again.  

 Alegra was able to get more photos on the walk she and Diella took with Jonathon.  

 And lots more football.

 I sure love this guy!

 One last time on the beach, soaking up some sun.  The red tide was bad, but only in certain areas.  There is a restaurant called Sharkies at the head of the pier.  As we walked by it to head out onto the pier, all you could hear were people coughing all over the place inside and in the waiting areas outside.  It was crazy.  Once we got to a certain place on the pier, we didn't notice it anymore.  I would have thought that being out over the ocean would have made it worse, but it didn't.  We spent a good bit fishing, and Dad used his bait blaster and got lots of attention from passerbys with that.  

So enjoyable to look out over the sparkling water.

The next morning we packed up and left for home, making a stop just on this side of Nashville, TN to stay over night.  The trip was nice and seemed to not take too long, but boy were we glad to be home.  Titus was pretty glad too.  :)

Another Murphy/Bovee vacation in the books and we look forward to doing it again.  Thanks for the great time Dad and Mom.