Wow, it's been over a week since I've posted. That's due to a combination of exhaustion, depression, work and play.
We got back to Sarasota last Sunday and did nothing for three days. I don't think we left the house, or even got out of our pajamas for that matter. We were worn out from all of the running we'd done this month and were very happy to veg out.
Then Wednesday rolled around and it dawned on me ... we leave in a week! So rest time is over.
It'd been a while since we'd been to a beach, so we packed lightly and headed for Longboat Key. We drove the entire island and didn't find a public beach anywhere. But right across the northern bridge was a great place to play: Coquina Beach on Anna Maria Island. There were facilities there, parking, picnic benches, lifeguards, tons of shells and great surf. Casey tried to skim board, but apparently Hollie's family broke it in Tampa. Oh well, what's $50 between friends? (grrrr) Still we had a nice afternoon playing in the water (which is insanely warm here). We stopped in Armand's Circle on the way home and bought Mango Wine and Tortuga Rum Cakes (woo hoo!!!!!) from St. Armand's Winery, then had lunch at Lido Grille (which was out of Mojitos, Sangria, and Key Lime Pie, but that's another story).
On Thursday we finally visited The Mote Aquarium and had a wonderful time - AND they had a similar cruise to the one we missed in Clearwater! (where they drag a net and show the kids all of the wildlife they pick up) We got to see blue crabs, seahorses, lots of different fish and sand-dollars... it was the best excursion we've done in Florida I think. I took like 200 pictures, but don't you know, my flash card is somehow corrupt and I can't get a single image off of it. But at least we have the memories. (Word of advice, that seemingly useless feature that allows you to "stop" an external device really does have a purpose - USE IT!)
Friday we went to the G Wiz Science Museum (after buying a new camera). It was an ok way to spend the afternoon, but the Children's Museum in ABQ is better. There were a few exhibits that kept our interest, though, and Casey spent a good hour building this contraption with a little boy. I sat and talked with his very nice mother who filled me in on schools, etc. in the area. She also told me the horror stories of hurricanes, tornados, red tide, etc. Florida is a sort of scary place to live :)
But my new philosophy (thanks to a video I saw on You Tube) is:
Don't be afraid of death, be afraid of a life half-lived.
So Saturday we drove around Lakewood Ranch for several hours, checking out all of the for sale / for rent signs and what was available. We liked the Summerfield subdivisions the best. Every once in a while I would pull over and ask a passerby some questions about the area. That's how I met Mark and his wife Happy (yes, Happy).
Mark was walking down the road so I stopped to ask him where the kids were. Next thing I know we're following him to his house around the corner. There were like five houses for sale on the cul-de-sac street, one rental, and kids EVERYWHERE! This is the kind of street I wish I had in ABQ. Family after family after family and incredibly nice neighbors (who aren't retired!). For the first time, Casey softened to the idea of staying in Florida longer (despite the alligators, sharks, hurricanes and jellyfish). She was in awe of all of the children riding their bikes and playing in their front yards without fear of abduction!
There was a house for rent directly across the street from the "Happy Family" (boy I'll bet that's the first time they've been called that). It is 2000 square feet, has 4 bedrooms, a screened lanai with a small in-ground pool, and a lake in the back yard. It would be perfect if I wanted to move everything I owned and commit to Sarasota, but the $2,000 a month rental agreement is a bit more than we need (although that includes furnishings and lawn/pool maintenance). I'm going to look at the inside on Monday to see if it's worth the high price tag. Who knows... if God wants us to be here maybe a miracle will happen and it will include utilities too :)
In the meantime, it is Sunday again. We were going to be ambitious and get up early enough for church but as usual, our laziness prevailed. It's looking pretty ugly outside, so I think we're going to spend today packing, cleaning, and getting ready for Ohio so we can hang on the beaches Monday and Tuesday, weather permitting.
Oh, and Casey lost another tooth this week! She was being a good little flosser when it popped right out. So Florida has been rather lucrative for her (as far as the tooth fairy is concerned anyway).
Next stop, Cincinnati.