Sunday, March 20, 2011

Florida Spring Break Trip

This past week I took a Spring Break trip down to Florida with my friend Samantha. It was a last minute decision, so we chose to drive down since we couldn't find any flights for a reasonable price.

We left Sunday morning bright and early at 5 AM. The plan was to spend 2 nights at Clearwater Beach, 1 night in downtown Tampa, and the rest of the trip at her uncle's place in Orlando. The furthest I've driven before this was 6 hours to Washington, D.c. This trip would be around 18 hours to Clearwater, 16.5 hours back up to Ohio from Orlando, plus any driving within Florida.

We made pretty good time, only stopping 3 or 4 times for food and gas. We arrived in Clearwater around 10:30 and checked into our hotel. It was a nice little place with a pool and a nice view of the ocean and beach.

On Monday, we spent the day at the beach. It had the best sand I have ever seen. It was very soft and white just like a sandbox. The temperature of the Gulf was pretty cool, but I still went in for a swim. One of the highlights was seeing a couple dolphins swimming close to shore right past this lady.

Later that night, Sam and I met up with a good friend I graduated high school with that recently moved down to Tampa. His ex-gf was also down visiting so all of us got some food at a Carrabbas near his apartment.

The next day we drove down to St. Pete Beach. We spent a good part of the day there and grabbed some lunch in downtown St. Petersburg. From there we drove up to Tampa to check in at the downtown Embassy Suites. I always enjoy staying at Embassy's since they have a happy hour at night and a great breakfast in the morning.

On Wednesday, we spent the day at Busch Gardens Tampa. We rode all the rollercoasters including my favorite, Sheikra, which includes a 90 degree drop. The park also has African animals in it including giraffes, elephants, kangaroos, flamingos, rhinos, and crocs.

From there we drove to her Uncle Drew's place in Orlando. They live on a lake just south of Orlando and have a beautiful house and view of the lake. He is an airline pilot for American and his wife, Jill, is a stewardess. When we got there, Jill was there, but he was still flying back from a flight from Paris to Miami. The next day she leaving and doing the same trip to Paris as him.

We took it easy on Thursday and Friday and hung out at their pool. Just being out in the sun was entertaining enough for us cloudy, cold weather Ohio folk.

On Thursday night, Drew took us to a friend's house for a St. Patty's Day party. They had Reubens and Irish beer. We had a great time talking to all the people there.

On Friday, I mentioned to Sam about going to the Orlando Magic game against the Denver Nuggets. I figured we would get cheap nosebleed seats. However, her uncle had a friend who had courtside season tickets right behind the Magic's bench. Score!

The game was awesome and probably a once in a lifetime experience. We were only two rows behind the players and could literally touch Dwight Howard. It was cool seeing NBA action that close and how tall the players actually are. Before the game, they had a dinner buffet, at half time they had desserts, and after the game there was more food out. We couldn't have asked for a better game. It ended with the Magic making a game-winning three-pointer at the buzzer. After the game, we went to a few clubs and bars in downtown Orlando.

On Saturday, we drove over to Cocoa Beach only about an hour away. We laid in the sun there till 3:30, then drove to Cape Canaveral to check out the NASA Visitor Center.

The last day of the trip, we were going to start back to Ohio around 5 AM. However, Drew easily convinced us to go on a tour of the lakes in his boat. So at 7 AM, Drew, Jill who had just gotten back from Paris, Sam and I headed out on the water with a bottle of champagne :)

There are 4 lakes total and all are connected by canals. The homes around the lakes were beautiful and huge! The lakes have alligators in them, but we didn't run into any luckily.

After the boat ride, we said goodbye and got on the road around 8 o'clock. We both had a great time and were glad to getaway for a week.

Click here for more pictures from the trip.

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