I met up with my brother Anton, my sister Vanessa, and her children at the beach for a few days. They were there for the whole week but, with summer classes, I could only make the tail end.
The Everglades-Big Cypress Crawl
Leaving Miami, I drove east on US-41 across the Big Cypress National Preserve and then took I-75 north for about 100 miles to Sarasota, specifically Siesta Key.
Story from crossing the National Preserve: My vision isn’t terrific and from a distance I saw a cluster of signs indicating the facilities at an upcoming campsite. There’s one that means “showers” but from far away looked like a net over a guy. Me: “Camping, picnic tables, and TRAPS?!!!” When I passed it, I realized what it meant and could’ve died.
Siesta Key, FL
We rented 2 paddle boards to take turns using in the ocean. With 5 kids, a mom, aunt, and uncle, not many of us could go out at once but Anton had a solution for that. He and my gigantic nephew grabbed the two kayaks from atop Anton’s Jeep and carried them down to the beach. We paired up small kids with big kids or adults in kayaks or on paddle boards – we still had to take turns, but we managed to make a group adventure of it. (The little ones were safe, don’t worry. Literally all of us are/were competitive swimmers, water polo players, triathletes – plus 1 lifeguard.)
Unstructured beach play was the best. We played in the pool, souvenir stores, the waves (repeatedly, different beaches) with inner tubes (inner tube wars = YES), rented more kayaks for a group trip out Blind Pass into Little Sarasota Bay. Anton taught our nephew some acoustic guitar (which Anton brought as well). Vanessa went running at sunrise a few times. Once, we ordered pizza and got ice cream.
During brief daily thunderstorms, various rooms were either dedicated to games (backgammon or Munchkin with the Adventure Time deck), reading, sleeping, studying, or watching Barbie in the Pink Shoes (again).
Unable to see Point of Rocks the last time we were at Siesta Key, Vanessa was determined to go. On the last day, we all made it out there but the rock formation itself is a place you need to climb/walk to. She, Anton, and the older kids went; I stayed back with the toddler and 5-year-old. We looked for shells and threw rocks in the waves. Everybody had a blast.
Outdoor Art & Auto Museums – Vanessa and I wanted to visit these but it didn’t work out that way (too little time, too many tired little ones). Next time!