S: Disney World & Clearwater Beach, Florida - May 17-23, 2012
BC: DEPARTED | FLORIDA | 23 MAY 2012
1: Our first BIG family vacation was planned for May 17-23, 2012, to Florida! This would be a big trip of firsts! The first one: flying on an airliner for the boys! We got through security without any issues, so here we wait! Mommy & Daddy can finally relax a bit & the boys are full of anticipation for what the next several days will hold! Let the fun begin!
3: Disney World | As soon as we entered the park we could see Cinderella's Castle in the background! | Disney even makes entering the park an experience! After driving through the Disney gates (below), we parked and took a tram to a ticketing area. Then we took a Ferry Boat across a 'lake' to the entrance of the park where we were immediately greeted with Cinderella's Castle! Even for a group of boys, her castle made an impact!
5: No big surprise, the rides were a big attraction! Some of the biggest 'hits': Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin, It's a Small World, The Barnstormer rollercoaster, The Mad Tea Party (where these pictures were mostly taken), Peter Pan's Flight, Snow White's Scary Adventures, Tomorrowland Speedway, & the 3D show "Mickey's PhilharMagic". However, the overwhelming favorite was Space Mountain! Hayden didn't get sick & Harlyn didn't fly out! Success!
6: Hudsyn the Sorcerer | Harlyn as Donald Duck
7: Everyone does it! I remember doing it when I was little during my first trip to Disney...and the White Boys are no exception! You have to try on those crazy hats & take a picture! | Hayden as Pluto
9: After a hot day in the park we capped it off with Mickey Ice Cream Cones & a Root Beer Float before making the 2 hour drive to Clearwater Beach.
10: We got to Clearwater in time to have dinner on the beach. The hotel recommended a place named Frenchy's Rockaway Grill. It was just a few minute walk down the sand from the hotel. When we got to Frenchy's, which is a popular local place, there was about an hour wait, so we let the boys play in the sand. After about 15 minutes a lady came up & asked where we were from. She said she'd been watching the boys & could tell we 'weren't from around here'. She said she was really enjoying watching them play in the sand. They were digging, burying, running, making 'sand angels', throwing, doing cartwheels, & every other activity you can think of! They were in heaven! We got our table on the patio & Hudsyn was ecstatic - he could order shrimp! When our food arrived I was busy fixing Harlyn's plate & I looked over to see Hudsyn holding a tail-less shrimp & chewing! I told him you aren't supposed to eat the tails & he exclaimed "Well how was I supposed to know?!"
11: There were a few things about Clearwater Beach that we hadn't expected...Nature was abound! While Kyle & I had been on beaches before, we'd never seen one with as many shells lining the shore. The kids loved looking at the shells each morning to see what had washed up overnight. There were also birds flying close by, landing in the sand & letting us get 'up close' looks at them. Several mornings we would go on 'shell walks' & these pictures are some of what we found. Top left - There were 'shell pockets' randomly found along the shore. Millions of pieces of shells, all pocketed together. Hudsyn called them "shell nests". Middle left - Hayden spotted a crab! We were able to catch a picture of it before it buried itself in the sand. Bottom left/Middle right - the birds that flew around & would land right by us. Top right - one of the 'swirly shells' found on one of the walks Bottom right - THERE'S A CREATURE IN THERE! I found this one with my toe, and imagine our surprise when there was still an occupant in there! We snapped a picture, & then threw him back to safety in the water.
12: Clearwater Beach, Florida
13: The boys were really excited to get to the beach & see the ocean. They asked why there was 'fake sand' here instead of the 'real' sand like they have at Capt. Ron's at the lake. They had no idea the sand could be so white & soft. They were also in awe of the constant waves rolling in from the ocean. Here they are, checking the water out for the very first time!
14: Clearwater has an aquarium which also happens to be a working marine life hospital & rescue center. They rescue injured animals & nurse them back to health before re-releasing them into their natural habitat, or keep them if their injuries are too severe for survival in the wild. | Several injured sea turtles call this aquarium home. Some were injured from boats, others from shark attacks. The boys loved posing with this giant sea turtle. At right, you can see one of the turtles can't submerge his tail end because his back flippers are missing. | There were also a few sea otters there. The one in these pictures is paralyzed in his back feet. Notice how they drag behind him in the photo. However, he was playing and liked running underneath this blanket and then looking out at his visitors!
15: Clearwater Aquarium
17: Top Left: There were lots of sting rays & the kids got to 'pet' them! | This page: Watch out for the shark! Harlyn didn't want to hold the shark teeth, so an aquarium volunteer did it for him. These were the kids 'look scared' faces. | Bottom: Sea Urchins! In the middle picture you can see they will try to cover up with shells to 'disguise' themselves. The far right corner picture is baby shells, which eventually grow into bigger ones. | Middle: There weren't tropical fish, but there were some new kinds for the kids to see. Notice the baby starfish in the middle picture. They were SO tiny!
18: The kids loved the Aquarium, but without question, seeing Winter was the main attraction. Winter is a dolphin that was rescued in December 2006 near Cape Canaveral after a fisherman found her wrapped in a crab trap line. She was only 2 months old! Due to injuries from the trap line she ended up losing her entire tail & 2 vertebrae. She should have died from the injuries, but has now completely healed & adapted to having no tail. She's even learning to swim with a prosthetic! They made a movie about Winter, Dolphin Tale, that the kids had seen before we even knew we'd be making this trip. Most of the movie was actually filmed at the Clearwater Aquarium so we were able to see many of the actual locations used in the movie. | Winter the dolphin
28: Buried Alive
29: Burying each other in the sand seems like another one of those 'everybody does it' things.!And once again, the boys were eager to join in the fun. So many sensations - the cool of the sand as you're being covered, the weight of it on your chest, the struggle to get out from under it, and then finally rinsing off in the salty ocean. Everyone liked this tradition, but Harlyn seemed to have the most fun with it, asking us to bury him multiple times over the course of the trip.
30: Caution: Brothers at Play! Caution:
31: Brothers at Play! Cautin: Brother
34: We had a wonderful trip to Florida. The kids had fun, the weather was great, & experienced lots of 'firsts'. Our last evening we walked down the beach & saw one last beautiful sunset. The next morning we headed to Tampa Airport to go back home. We were sad to leave, but also ready to head home & see everyone!
35: Going Home!