Monday, July 13, 2015

Vacation All I Ever Wanted.

I love to travel. As a teenager I was a People to People Student Ambassador and got to see the likes of Spain, Italy, and France. My gramma saved up to take my cousin and I on a cruise to Alaska in high school. Even quick trips to nearby Indiana and overnights in downtown Chicago, I love to see new things and have a bit of wanderlust. Somewhere between working a ton of hours at a 24/7 on-call job, lay-offs, bills, and the general responsibilities of life in your 20s, I stopped traveling. Rhyno and I have been together nine years and only went on one trip together--our honeymoon to Disney World.  

Then I got pregnant. Sometime last year I decided I wanted travel to be a priority for myself and the babe. I wanted our baby to see things and go on at least one vacation a year. With a renewed desire to create better work/life balance (more on that in another post cause, boy, do I need help there), I started planning a road trip to Florida a few months ago. With my parents in tow, we decided to drive down to visit my brother and sister-in-law with a stop in Tennessee. 

My parents, Robot, and I packed up and got out of dodge the day after Fourth of July! We were able to avoid traffic and got to Tennessee in about nine hours (not bad for having an 8 month old in the car!). We spent the next day touring Gatlinburg--I HIGHLY recommend visiting. I said this is a place I probably wouldn't have seen otherwise and it is beautiful. Lots of shopping, whiskey and moonshine tastings, great (vegan!) calzones at Mellow Mushroom, and the most beautiful aquarium I've ever been to. We stayed in a gorgeous resort with perfect mountain views. I'd go back in a heartbeat.

Our next stop? Florida! We spent the day with my brother and sister-in-law at Universal to check out the Wizarding World of Harry Potter (um, amazing) and our nerdy hearts were so happy. We rode roller coasters (let's talk about how awesome Child Swap at Universal is: we were all able to wait in line together and then swap turns on the ride), drank frozen lemonade, and sweated our butts off (hi, Florida is H-O-T). We went back the next day to do more shopping and roller coaster riding, ending the night driving to my brother's place in St. Augustine. 

Oh, the beach. Take me back! We spent Friday at the beach and man, that salt water felt so good. Robot was a fan of the ocean from afar and one salty splash to the face and he was over it. We packed up and hit the pool instead which he LOVED. He would have stayed in there all day if he had his way! We soothed our sunburn and hit a tiny Italian place for a family dinner. My dad said it was the best homemade pasta he's had since his fresh-from-Italy grandma was alive. It was SO good! 

We spent the evening watching movies and visiting with my cousin who happens to share a birthday with Ro-wanasaurus. We packed up in the morning to head back to Illinois and drove through the night (met with bad traffic, bad weather, and SIX hotels without available rooms). I was never so happy to see my own bed! We have only been home just over 24 hours and I am already mentally planning our next trip. I forgot how refreshing it is to travel and get away from real life for a bit. I loved seeing Rowan's face as we explored new places and experienced brand new things (salt water! sand! hotels! looooong car rides!).

 Off we go! You really haven't lived until you've pumped in the backseat of a car.

Loving vacation during a quick stop as we entered Kentucky.
The gorgeous view from our room in Gatlinburg!
Greetings from Gatlinburg!
 Ripley's Aquarium in Gatlinburg is the MOST beautiful place.

Seriously, colorful jellies.
 That view of Orlando!

Hitting the Guinness Hall of World Records and finally wearing this LIFESAVER of a sling.
 Goofing around at Universal. Yes, his 6 month sized shorts are giant on him.

 Grabbing a giant donut with the Simpsons.

Seriously. Giant.
Dinner at La Strada with Robot's Uncle Patrick 

 Enjoying the sunshine and sand and even the water...from afar.

Where should we plan to adventure to next?

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You look so pretty today.