Until we published the Zoe and Alex – The Pink Day Interview post, it had been 31 days since our previous posting. Why? What could the Opheims possibly be doing that was so important? Entertaining guests of course! That’s right, we’ve had a bevy of guests while living here in Florida.
In fact, of the 93 days we will spend in Florida during Project Pink Day, only 31 of those days have been WITHOUT a visitor. That’s 62 days of family and friends – and we wouldn’t change it for the world.
And, it’s not over! We will pack up our (minimal) stuff into our SUV yet again tomorrow and head to Sea World & Disney World for a week. Then spend another week at Madeira Beach, FL. All with our final guests, Zurich friends, the Longs (Richie, Katy, Chloe and Ollie).
So, you’ve already heard about our first guests and our first road trip. Here is the next chapter in our Visitor Extravaganza!
The Puls Fam Visits
John (Kelly’s brother), wife Mandy and two boys, Jack & Charlie, came to visit us for over a week. They were traveling and arriving on Charlie’s 6th birthday, so we planned a special welcome.
First of all, it was Jack and Charlie’s first plane ride. The birthday boy got to sit in the cockpit of the airplane before take off, wearing his “Goose” shirt. Jack had the Maverick shirt, of course.
Uncle Travis picked them up from the airport on Thursday afternoon. After a quick stop at Publix, we headed to the condo for some presents. Charlie loved his Gizmo shirt (apparently The Gremlins movie is making a comeback), his boogie board with flames, but he was most excited about… Sprite! Yes, the kid loves the lemon-lime goodness.
That night we went out to Junkanoo for dinner. It is right on the Gulf so we played on the beach while we waited for a table. Afterward, it was home for cake (from Publix of course) and ice cream. Great first day!
Friday was all about the beach! It was the boys’ first time at the ocean and sandcastles had to be made. We hit up the pool for a while afterward and then to Pincher’s Tiki Bar that night for the sunset. It was a blazing red ball of fire – just the way Travis likes it.
On Saturday morning, The Puls fam and Kelly chartered the Chew On This fishing boat. John is an avid outdoorsman and wanted to get some fishing in while down here. Turns out the “salt water” fisherman and the “northern lake” fisherman have some sort of friction. The captain of the charter gave John a hell of a time – yelling at him and giving jabs when he could. But, that didn’t stop them from having a good time and catching some nice fish – snook, Spanish mackerel, jack, etc. The boys got a kick out of some dolphin visitors by the boat. The rest of Saturday was spent at the beach and pool.
Sunday was Father’s Day and what better way to spend it than on a pontoon boat. Yep, we loaded up all the kids and took them out for a 4-hour tour in the bay. We scored two free fishing poles earlier in the summer from Fish Tale Marina, so John bought some bait and other essentials and we hopped on the boat.
It was a great day of fishing (John caught a flounder), swimming off the shore of Lover’s Key and sandbars, and looking for dolphins. We saw plenty of them in the bay and even a couple of manatees. Who needs a dolphin tour anyway!
We also rented a jet ski one of the days. John and I took turns taking out the kids for a ride. I even took Alex for his first jet ski ride. He wasn’t scared at all and loved going in circles just like his sister. Now every day we go to the beach he asks if we can go on the “motors” (as the kids like to call them). If he only knew how much I’d like to go every day too!
The rest of the visit was filled with sun filled beach and pool days, good food and great fun with the family. We miss being only a couple hours away to see each other more often – one of the few downsides of living out of the Midwest.
Final note: I have to say it was by far the hottest week of our time down in Florida; so hot that the water in the pool and even the Gulf of Mexico were well into the 90 degrees – it didn’t cool us off, only got us wet. Ew. Let’s meet up in cool, crisp Colorado next time!
The very next day after John, Mandy and the boys left, the Opheims drove to Tampa. The purpose of the short trip was to pick up Travis’ mom (aka Grammy) from the airport.
We made the most of it by getting some pictures taken by our favorite photographer Ashley Wendt (Blushing Fawn Photography). She always takes the most amazing pics of our kids and us. So, we had to take advantage of her being on vacation down here.
Afterward, we met up with one of Kelly’s besties, Marta, and her two girls, Maddy and Emersyn who live just north of Tampa. We chilled out by their house, hit up the community swimming pool, grilled dinner and caught up with each other. The kids loved playing and dancing together too.
The next morning we went to Busch Gardens with Grammy. We thought of it as a test run for Disney to see how the kids would do, but it was much more than that. The kids loved the rides, the animals and the Sesame Street characters. They loved the roller coaster, tigers and Elmo the best! It was great that Grammy was able to join us – she did buy us the tickets after all!
After Busch Gardens we headed back to Ft. Myers Beach for the rest of the visit. Grammy came prepared with over 20 projects to do with the kids. Every day there was something new and exciting to do. I haven’t seen them that into arts and crafts in a long time.
Elly comes to visit
Just a couple of days after Grammy left, Elly arrived. We’ve known Elly since she was a wee baby – she is the oldest daughter of our good friends, Alison (who sadly, passed away in 2011) and Corey. Having Elly here was really special, as her mom’s story is a big influence on our decision to do Project Pink Day. We promise to share more about Alison another day.
Elly’s flight arrived at midnight, so we took the kids out to dinner, did some shopping and took them to see the Minion movie. The kids barely made it through the 9:45 PM movie start time, but were excited to see Elly. On the way to pick her up, we saw a panther crossing sign – we didn’t see one.
Elly’s first full day was a Saturday. It was a perfect beach day and we spent most of the day there. Then it was to the mandatory pool visit before heading up for dinner. Afterward, we hit the beach again to watch the sunset and it was a great one – one of the best we’ve seen since living here.
On Sunday we rented a pontoon boat – this time for a full day. Elly likes to fish so we brought out the gear. We fished mangrove islands, saw a few dolphins, swam off the shores of Lover’s Key and did a cruise around the bay area. The most exciting part of the boat ride was when we spotted a family of dolphins. At least 8 of them playing around in the water with plenty of time for photos and videos. So cool!
That night we headed out to a Ft Myers Miracle minor league baseball game (minors for the Minnesota Twins no less). Kelly scored free tickets (thanks to her Facebook addiction) so we decided to try it out. We had a blast with seats right behind home plate, ate hot dogs and Zoe loved chasing foul balls even though she never got one unfortunately. The kids even ran the bases after the game.
Kelly and Elly rented stand-up paddle boards on Monday morning. Elly got her money’s worth when she paddled over a manatee and it started bucking and flapping its tail at her. She held on and was able to recover, but it was a shock to say the least! People could hear the girls’ screams for miles!
That night Elly was nice enough to watch the kids, so we went to Lani Kai for some rooftop views during the sunset and ended up spending the night at the beach side bar listening to an awesome rock & roll cover band. Meanwhile back at the condo, Elly had the kids doing projects, eating popcorn and watching Pocahontas.
On Tuesday we did more beach/pool action and walked around downtown Ft. Myers Beach for shopping and ice cream at Zoe’s favorite spot that sells cotton candy flavored goodness.
We kept our normal routine on Wednesday morning and took Elly with us to the “amazing Library”. The kids read about farm animals and played Farmer in the Dell. Afterward we booked it to the Naples Zoo. The kids had fun showing Elly around since they’d been there before. No tiger fights and no honey badger this time though. It was a hot day too, so after a couple hours we headed back for some much needed rest.
Thursday morning Elly watched the kids again while Kelly and I did a dolphin tour on jet skis (my favorite!). I was definitely in it more for the jet skis as we got to cruise across the Gulf and head into the bay area at full throttle. Kelly drove her own jet ski and did well until the end. A storm rolled through and we got caught in the rain with 5-foot waves crashing all around us. Our guide Joey had us stay on the edge of the rain for a few minutes while it passed. Oh, and we got up close and personal with some dolphins and a couple of manatee too.
Since it was raining on Elly’s last day we decided to make the most of it and venture to Sanibel island for some shell hunting. We got lucky and the rain held off while we were at the beach. We had a blast finding big shells and floating in the strong current up and down the beach.
That night we tried a new place for dinner so Elly could get some grouper, but she wasn’t feeling well and had to settle for some of the bread. Poor Elly! She didn’t miss much as we didn’t like the food at Nervous Nellies.
Kelly drove Elly to the airport on Friday morning early so we said our goodbyes that night. We had such a great time and we didn’t want her to go. We don’t know of any other 17 year olds that are as caring, responsible and fun to be around. We’d love to have her back anytime!
Marta, Maddy & Emersyn visit
After one night to ourselves, Marta and her girls came to visit. They arrived on Saturday afternoon and we hit up the beach and pool. The kids played so nicely together that it’s as shame we weren’t living closer to them.
Sunday called for more beach and pool. It was a beautiful day and we got our fair share of sun. That night it was time for some SOB (Smokin’ Oyster Brewery) for dinner. This is the best food in town (that we’ve experienced) and it didn’t disappoint. After that we stopped by time square for some ice cream and balloon animals for the kids. The pier was busy on Sunday, but worth it as we were treated to great sunset views.
On Monday we headed back to Sanibel so Marta and the girls could experience the bounty of sanibel shells. We went to our favorite spot (Blind Pass Beach). The current was strong again so I took turns with the girls floating down the beach.
One of our trips a woman from shore started yelling, “manatee!” I asked her, “Where?” Her response, “Right behind you!” So I took the girls to the shore and turned around. Sure enough a manatee came up for air about 10 feet away. Glad I didn’t see him when I was IN the water!
That night Marta and Kelly had a girls night out and headed to Pinchers Tiki Bar and Castaways across the road. They did lots of chatting and catching up. I watched the kiddos. We had popcorn and watched movies. Such a great trip and we hope they can come see us in Colorado too!
Phew – last of the visitors!
So, that’s what we’ve been up to. Lots of quality time with so many people we love. The Longs are next. It was certainly more visitor time that we’d expected, but we wouldn’t change a thing!
We will see who visits us in Colorado. Fair warning – August and September are already filling up. Haha!