Monday, March 31, 2014

Last but not least...Lois and Largo!

We ended our Florida tour in Largo, Florida, with the wonderful Lois Granstrom.  Lois is Lynn Granstrom Teff's mom, my sister from anotha mutha (that would be the aforementioned Lois). Lois treated us like family; she helped us find an icecream cake for Emm's birthday, toured us around to beaches, animal refuges, parks, and restaurants, and maybe most importantly, let us take over her place and unwind.  It is hard to explain how much this does for this nomadic unit.

Ok; we may have rubbed the weather in a little to Lois's family back in Ramsey...

Emm at his favorite place, making art out of the environs

Emm and Sarah at the Largo botanical garden

Emm metamorphosing...or taking flight

there's room for more!

While Emm, Lois and I went to the Botanical garden, Gar and Des found a Twins/Phillies game in Clearwater...out of respect for my Twins-loving hostess, I will not recount the game.  

Des ran down the Phanatic
 Largo had a great climbing tree, which we visited often...

we enjoyed the trails at the turtle park

Emm found his brethren

Lois took us to Sawgrass Lake Park to see the baby gators, among other animals. Below is an example of making a text to self connection.  So much learning!

shall I try and identify?  If I didn't have a lot of stuff to do, I totally would...
I know this guy is a snake bird...yes!!!
I can also handle this one
We spent a day at one of the best beaches in the world, Ft De Soto Park.  For those of you who live in a day or two radius of this place, best look online and book your camping's something special.  Emm voted it best digging sand anywhere, and we loved watching the pelicans dive bombing.  Gar claims to have seen a stingray jump out of the water (no photos to substantiate, and I didn't see it, sooo....)

We stopped in Gulfport on the way back to Largo on a recommendation from a growler guy here in Woodstock, Ga.  He recommended Peg's, and it was worth the out of the way stop!
Gary's sampler
Gulfport was about as cute as can be, as evidenced by Gary's new ride...

and the boys' new ride...
We felt quite at home here!

Legoland is Awesome! by Emmett with Two T's (watch the Lego movie, you'll get it)

My trip to Legoland was awesome!!!!!!! There were lego dudes made out of legos, cars and every once in a while you'd see a squirrel (also made of legos!) O.K. you're probably wondering about all the roller coasters; the first one I went on was CoasterSaurus.  The second one was...what was the second one? Umkay, it doesn't matter if it's in order or not.  We did all the rides.  The best part was having a birthday with my friends Ben and Alex at Legoland.  I'm going to describe the pictures below now. 
Here we are entering Legoland.  Photographer: Gary Pearlz. When were going to Legoland but not there yet, I saw a sign that said Legoland. And I thought "why are we going past Legoland without going to it, and today's the day for my surprise, so I'm guessing it's that." We were around the corner, and saw a Beef O'Brady's. Mom asked me if I wanted to go to Beef O'Brady's or Legoland. I chose Beef O'Brady's. JK!!!

You see those blonde kids there? They are Ben (by Desi) and Alex (by me). We met them in Texas at the Guadalupe Mountains campground. They are from Canada, and are doing basically what we are doing, except they have an RV (lucky them). Here's a link to their adventures. My parents called their parents so we could meet up at Legoland.  They had planned it that long ago!!! In this picture, we are in the Lego Star Wars section (in case you didn't notice the gigantic Darth Vader behind us).
this is me and Darth Maul (same pose)

Here we are on Coaster Saurus for the second time. It's definitely not Coaster Snorus! Watch this video to see what it's like to sit in the front (even though I didn't do it).

Here we were at the place where you got your fake driver's license.  (Now I know how it feels to actually drive! Now I know why it's so annoying when you go the wrong way to some place. We are watching what to do when you drive.  For example, don't run a red light!  So dumb). Editor's note by Sarah: as you may guess, Emm was a very cautious driver.  Des? you can also guess. (As the cars couldn't go more than a mile/hr, there wasn't much risk of injury).
You had to pedal this ride to get higher.  This is Alex and Desi, probably the highest ones. Editor's note: Tami and I definitely pedaled higher than all the little boys; Emmett objects to this editor's note.
"Oh, that beer is good.  What kind? Oh, bark chip in here? blech..."

This is another place where there was a really awesome roller coaster, The Dragon. And there was a dragon, of course, one made of legos, and one that you rode in.  The one made of legos shot a mist of water out of its nose to make it look like it was breathing smoke. And there was a fat, drunk dude who spat at you.  It made me wish that I lived in the times of dragons (not that I believe in dragons).
Alex and Ben, remember when we took that picture before you left for the hike in Guadalupe Mountains?  I thought that was the last time we were going to see you.  When I saw you driving into the parking lot at Legoland, I was soooooo happy! I wish I could see you a billion more times, and I think you said that you might go to Oregon? I hope that you do! 

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Flah-ridda Post #2: Vero Beach

Here on Opening Day, let us all pause to bask in the return of spring.   (pause)     Rebirth, optimism, light, and an end to this brutal winter. Well, brutal for most people. As for us, we were in Florida! (As loyal readers know.) Sarah's step-sister Taunya and her husband Jeff were generous enough to host us and put up with our traveling carnival. Their son Cole entertained the boys, and the dog made sure no one broke into the house (DOWN GIRL!). Vero Beach was lovely and we had the ocean to ourselves, most days. 

Sporting the cap from our favorite oyster bar in Chahls-ton

Backyard gym
Among Vero's other good qualities is its proximity to Roger Dean Stadium, spring home of the National League champion St. Louis Cardinals. We got to watch them thump the Braves 11-0. Cards hurler Lance Lynn struck out the last 8 batters he faced. Full story here.

The view from our seats

Nacho helmet helps E get through the game

REPRESENT. #BestFansInBaseball

After the game, we had some seafood at a place on a marina. We threw fish food to some catfish, which annoyed the many seagulls because they didn't get any. Back at home, we saw this turtle, making decent time alongside the driveway. Just a classic-looking turtle, isn't it?

We grilled and ate outdoors, got our first mosquito bites of the season. The full moon over our tent in the driveway was beauteous. No photo, though--I only saw the moon during a 3am bathroom break and I don't carry my phone or camera then.

Last stop in Vero was the McKee Botanical Garden. Mom loves these, and we 3 boys are learning to enjoy them also. This one had several statues sprinkled about, all of them done in the 1980s.

80s sweater, anyone? #PopThatCollar

Trust me--by the end, the garden didn't leaf me frowning

Desi leads the way, as usual

My St. Patty's beard #NoPinch

No idea what this is, except purty

D with his explorer backpack, looking for ways to find shelter/water. Not exactly a Junior Ranger program, but fun anyway
We left Vero feeling rested and one shade pinker than when we arrived. Good thing we slept well because we needed lots of energy for our next adventure...stay tuned

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Florida post #1: St. Augustine

We spent over two weeks in Florida, so we've got lots to report.  And we're happy to report Florida was MUCH cooler than we thought it was going to be (no offense).  We started in St. Augustine, the oldest continuously-inhabited (by foreigners) city in the US.  We weren't able to camp, but G found us a sweet motel on the beach...
Emmett, in his zen zone

The Magic Beach Motel at night...yah baby....

The rangers at the Castillo De San Marcos dress in period uniforms.  As we walked in, the ranger asked the boys their ages; once he learned that they were over 6 and had 4 good teeth, he explained that they were of proper age to be conscripted into the army in the 1600s.  Writing every day and the occasional fight with mom about why you have to know how to figure out percentages didn't seem as big of a deal (for a minute or so).
Des is so into Junior rangering, he chose to do the most demanding level of the program, including writing a letter!  Wha? Go Des!

Hard to believe this has been here for over 350 years!

we didn't go see the Fountain of Youth, but enjoyed the beautiful trees on Magnolia St.

boys showing off their ranger badges

Next up...Vero Beach and the Grapefruit League!  

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Doin the Charleston: Shrimp, Grits and the Intra Coastal

We are so lucky.  So damn lucky!  We've seen a lot of cool stuff this year, and Charleston makes the very short list for one of our favorite cities.  Plus, it was a bonus family visit: Aunt Christy and Uncle Doyle were starting their sailing adventure on the IntraCoastal Waterway, and dad and Linda were joining them for a couple of days.  As we were "in the neighborhood," in Suches, Ga., we went east for a couple of fun-filled days. 
the obligatory state sign

The Millers' new home, The Abaco Lady

Emm on the bow, searching for pirates

Our biggest score, for both food and gear, was at the Pearlz Oyster Bar.  As quoted by the poet laureate, Emmett Pearlz, "they even spelled it right!"  We bought more gear than food, but the food was divine.  We slurped raw oysters and had fabulous, spicy shrimp and grits.  My mouth is watering….

Really, Gar!  That's how you spell it!  Pearmine plus Volz equals Pearlz!
I'm doing it!  My first raw oyster!

Aunt Christy arranged for a walking tour of the city by a 14th generation Charlestonian, who took us on winding paths and told us fabulous stories about the history of this amazing place.  And for an American city, it's got some history!  

Pearlz parkour at Patriot's Point


Emm is wiping his non-muddied shoe on the original shoe cleaner outside an old home.  We enjoyed imagining the streets with horses on the narrow streets, and the mess that may ensue on a rainy day.

spring has sprung!!

little bit older than the PNW

cool alleyways
Christy, dad and the Pearlzes had the opportunity to walk across the New Cooper River Bridge, 2.5 miles across into Mt. Pleasant. We saw dolphins following boats, and all of Charleston frolicking in the sun.  Beautiful!

Of course, we couldn't end this blog post without another talk of food.  Emm had his first chicken and waffles, but it won't be his last.  It's on his short list for Atlanta, which we'll be back to soon.

GREAT BOOK RECOMMENDATION (Thanks Aunt Christy and Christine Walter!): The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd.  Great history, girl power, Charleston imagery.  Read it!