After 2 great weeks of crashing at our friends’ and family’s homes in the Midwest, it was time to head south to Ft. Myers Beach, Florida.
The plan was to break up the trip into manageable chunks along the way. After all, we have nothing but time on our hands. Here was our game plan:
- Day 1: Book it to the area of Lexington, Kentucky
- Day 2: Venture to Grammy’s house (Travis’ mom) in Charlotte, North Carolina and stay for Day 3.
- Day 4: Head to the Jacksonville, Florida area
- Day 5: Arrive at our new home in Ft. Myers Beach!
We left a day after our friends’ wedding from a hotel in Hoffman Estates, Illinois on Monday morning around 10:00 AM. We were giddy with anticipation as we loaded up with fuel and snacks and we were on our way!
We drove through downtown Chicago to say “goodbye” and began our adventure. As we saw the skyline fade in our rear view mirrors, reality started to sink in. We are really doing this!
After a great day in the car (thanks to Kelly’s great preparation and “surprise gifts” for the kids – paper bags filled with silly putty, pipe cleaners, art projects, etc.) we were able to get as far as Williamsburg, Kentucky – nearly an hour further than planned. The kids were pumped to jump into the pool.
Turns out we stopped just in time as the next day was filled with curvy, winding roads through the Great Smoky Mountains. The scenery was beautiful and we couldn’t get over how green everything was compared to the brown landscape of Chi-town.
Once we arrived to Grammy’s house we were able to relax. The kids loved playing with Auggie the Doggie and playing in Grammy’s beautiful back yard. The most fun (apparently) was using squirt guns to drench me! I got them soaking wet too. Then again, I really enjoyed the squirt guns as well. It was also Cinco de Mayo so we partied with some sombreros, ‘stashes and margaritas!
After the wonderful visit, it was time to get on the road again. We said goodbye to Grammy and Auggie and headed to Florida. The drive went quickly and the kids were well behaved this time, thanks to all of the DVDs
loaned to us by the Puls family (thanks John & Mandy). As we crossed the bridge into Florida we saw it… the “Welcome to Florida” sign. The kids cheered, we looked at each other, smiled and knew we made the right choice for our family.
That night we stopped in Ocala at a Holiday Inn. Nice place and the kids loved that we could swim outside… no more indoor pools. They got to see lizards for the first time, running around the pool area. Somehow Zoe is TERRIFIED of a fly, but loves chasing the lizards. Bizarre but true!
We woke up the morning of the 8th of May. This was the day we’d been working towards for months – the day we’d finally arrive to our new “home” for the summer.
But, of course, we needed to stop in Tampa at Cigar City Brewing; one of my favorites and something that you can’t get up in Illinois. Lunch at the brewpub and drinks were delicious! Even took a few along with us too.
Back on the road for the last time, the kids started to talk about what they wanted to do first, beach or pool. Pool was the resounding answer. As we arrived to Ft. Myers we had “the feeling”. The feeling of relief, excitement, accomplishment and a twinge of “is this really happening?”
At about 4 PM we pulled up to Terra Mar at 7100 Estero Blvd in Ft. Myers Beach, Florida. Our amazing friends, Mark and Helen, greeted us in the parking lot. Big hugs and carts awaited to make quick work of unloading all our belongings.
As we walked into the condo… there it was – a view of the Gulf of Mexico. As far as you could see up and down the coastline of Estero Island. Oh and the sound – waves hitting the shore, wind rustling the leaves of the palm trees. The Opheims were home.