Here we are, at the Kennedy Space Center, looking like the tourists we were.
We had a fabu time and are planning on returning in a couple of years (though probably not during hurricane season!). We took lots of pictures and the full story is below.
Days 1-2: Travel Days
Hurricane Charley decided to hit on our travel day, but we refused to be thwarted and went to Memphis knowing we were unlikely to get to Florida that day. We ended up just missing several flights out of Memphis to airports other than Orlando, but within driving distance of our destination of Cocoa Beach. [Thank goodness my mother knew the geography and driving distances, else that could have been a nightmare.] There was a flight the next morning to Jacksonville, on which we booked four of the remaining five open seats. With discount voucher in hand, I got us a hotel for the night.
After talking with Hotwire, they refunded my car rental fee and using the hotel’s ‘puter, I was able to quickly (w/in about 20mins) find and reserve us a car for pickup in Jacksonville and drop-off in Orlando at the end of our trip, and for about the same price as originally thru Hotwire. Thank goodness for the internet!
Memphis Airport Holiday Inn BONUS: Elvis contest! Elvii everywhere, in every variation imaginable. Along with multitudes of groupies. It was quite a site.
Our drive from Jacksonville to Cocoa Beach was interesting… several caravans of utility/power trucks enroute to storm ravaged areas, from northern Florida and Georgia. Lots of trees were snapped and nearly every billboard was down along the stretch of just north of Daytona Beach down to Titusville. We nearly had a potty incident when we discovered that the rest areas were closed. But, Zelly was a trooper and held out for the McD’s in Titusville. After a brief stop for potty break and food, we continued on to Cocoa Beach, where my sister was awaiting our arrival (and had braved the storm the night before). Good thing she was there, since we had to call her to step outside, since the house wasnt numbered and we couldnt figure out which one it was! A mellow evening of grocery shopping, visiting with my cousin Craig and his daughter Sarah (they live a block away) along with some Olympics viewing wrapped up a long couple of travel days.
Oh, and then there was the trip back up to Titusville to fetch my mothers wallet (also known as a cigarette case with ID and credit card inside), which she had left at McDonalds. An employee had found it and put it in the safe, just one more great thing from a pretty amazing staff that was completely overwhelmed with locals and travellers looking for a place with power and bathrooms.
Day 3: Welcome to Florida
Otherwise known as kid-free day! My dad and step-mom took Zelly and Cole to have lunch with my grandmother and then onto Disney World. Then meant us adults (me, Camey, Sharon, Dawn & Jeremy) got to laz around on the beach, play in the waves, take a long uninterrupted nap, do some shopping, and then have a leisurely dinner. I found a restaurant in the visitors guide and as soon as we pulled up to the Where Shrimp Happens marquee and saw how many locals were patronizing the place, we knew it was a winner. We had a variety of fabulous seafood dishes and lingered over our drinks. Oh, a glorious dinner out without the children! Then it was time for serious shopping at Ron Jons! We wrapped that up sometime after midnight and that concluded the day. And we had a gloriously restful sleep without children waking us up (they spent the night with their gparents).
Day 4: Meet the Morissettes
My grandmother, my dads two brothers, their wifes and a couple of their grown children (with spouses and/or children in tow) came over for a BBQ. Camey and Jeremy shared grill master duties while the family chatted Im sure it was overwhelming to have so many Morissettes in one place! It was good to see everyone, especially my grandmother. We had a cake to celebrate birthdays: mine, Dawns and Anns, which were successive Tuesdays this year. Its been a long time since us three girls have been in the same place for our birthdays.
Day 5: Cole Rides the Waves
After a hesitant start, Cole is now a champion boogy boarder. He was riding the waves over and over again. Sometimes getting a bit tossed as the wave dumped him ashore, but he just kept at it. Unfortunately, Zelly is very, very, hesitant of the waves. I got her out in the little ones just one time for a short time, before she insisted on going to the edge of the surf.
Day 6: The Day Cole Left
We find out just how much it helps to have two children on vacation they really do keep each other occupied. After my sister left (with Cole and Jeremy), we headed out to Kennedy Space Center, which included a tour of Sharons former living abodes while enroute. Camey was in geek heaven at the Space Center (see Bugsplat) and Zelly got to meet an actual astronaut. For me, the best part was my mom sharing stories from her days working out there.
Day 7: Bailing the Ocean
Zellys PePere and Grannie Annie came up to our part of beach this morning. My dad started a huge fort, which involved lots of digging and stacking of sand, while trying to fend off waves, as he started it at the edge of the surf. Zelly helped by bringing buckets of water from the ocean and pouring them into the hole PePere was sitting in. Zelly continued to be wary of the waves and preferred to just jump the very edge but Ann finally got her out there a little ways and Zelly got to jump some actual waves. After lunch and a brief nap, we headed back up the Space Center for more exhibits and to check out the Astronaut Hall of Fame.
Day 8: Zelly Swims
Since Zelly has been so wary of the ocean, we decided to take up PePere and Grannie Annies offer to come swim at their hotel pool; mostly so Zelly could show off her swimming skills. Zelly did indeed swim, her first real swimming in fact, going 6-8 feet before running out of breath. It was great fun watching her tell her PePere exactly where to stand so she could swim to him.
Day 9: Last Day
Our last beach trip ended with a storm blowing in, though it never rained where we were, just lots of wind. That sky gets black in a hurry when the wind shifts from offshore to inland. We spent the evening visiting with Chad and his family, and then home to pack, pack and pack. I had to buy a new suitcase to get all the extras home! A short nap (12:30am to 3am) and we were up and loading the car. We had a way too early flight at 6:50am, and didnt know how crazy the airport was going to be, so wanted to give ourselves plenty of time. We were ever so grateful when a red cap appeared seemlingly out of nowhere right when we popped the trunk to unload at the car rental drop off point. He got us whisked up to the counter in no time flat. Our flight was on time, the layover was brief in Memphis, and we got home on schedule.
It was our best family vacation yet and were adding it to our rotation, with plans to return in 2-3 years.