Sunday, July 27, 2014

Gatorland

I remember going to an alligator farm while on vacation with my family as a kid and it was something I really wanted to do with our kids this trip. We didn’t make time for it on previous trips down here so I was determined to make it happen this time.

Since we forgot our tickets for Disney and SeaWorld at home, it seemed like the perfect chance to give Gatorland a try.

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We were just hanging out watching the gators do their thing when behind us a man threw open the gate to an enclosure and hopped in with them! We thought we were about to get an impromptu show (Zoe thought someone had just lost their mind) but he was just in there grabbing one to take to a show at a local hotel. It was cool to watch him though, he had no fear of them at all. After jumping in and choosing one, he grabbed it by the tail, calmed it down then held it between his thighs so that he could wrap tape around his snout. Then, once his mouth was closed, he put him in bag to transport to the hotel. What a job, right?

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We came across a giant croc that we could all take pictures with and while the big kids and Tony jumped right in, the two little's weren’t so sure about it. It took awhile for Harper to get comfortable with the idea and Dakota wasn’t going near it no matter what!

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The first show we saw was called Gator Jumparoo. It was basically a couple of guys getting giant gators to jump out of the water for whole chickens. It’s amazing how far they can jump!

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We saw some albino gators that were pretty cool.

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We came across an exhibit where people were feeding birds and decided we wanted to do that too! It was $1 per stick and we all wanted a try. (Except Zoe who isn’t too fond of birds I guess.) Landon LOVED having the little birds fly to him and he had several visit him during the time we were in there.

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As soon as a bird landed on Dakota’s stick, she screamed and threw it! She wasn’t expecting it I guess! I had to hold hers and mine and she was still pretty unhappy with the situation!

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Harper enjoyed himself also, but he just liked feeding them while they stood on the floor. He didn’t necessarily want them on him.

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They also had some larger birds for us to look at. They sure are beautiful!

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We thought it was kind of funny how the birds would ride around on the backs of the alligators! And, check them out in the trees!

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It was super hot out so we changed the little kids into their bathing suits so they could play at the water park. I think that may have been their favorite part of the day!

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After cooling off in the water, we headed over to see a gator wresting show. Dakota and I went to get seats while everyone else waited in line for water and a snocone.

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I got Dakota out of the stroller and went to move it out of the way when all of a sudden, from the corner of my eye, I saw her fall off the bench. She hit the back of her head really hard and she screamed and screamed. It was awful and I’m pretty sure everyone in the place was thinking about how awful a mother I was for turning my head that split second…but, she was okay and she ended up falling asleep in my arms. Tony said that was one way to get her to nap…knock her out. Poor baby!

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She slept for a little bit then was back at being her silly self. No damage done to that poor little head. The show was great and fun to watch!

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We saw one other show featuring all kinds of creepy crawlies, (think spiders, snakes, etc.) and then we headed back to the hotel for some time in the pool. It was what we needed after a long hot day walking around.

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It was a fun day at Gatorland and I’d say anyone on vacation down here should give it a try!

Friday, July 25, 2014

Good-Bye Savannah, Hello Florida!

On Friday morning, we all got up, had breakfast and then walked back downtown for our carriage ride through the city. We ended up on a full tour and boy was it hot! We were all crammed into the front row of the carriage and Tony and I had either Dakota or Harper on our lap the entire time. I didn’t get many pictures as I was busy making sure the kids didn’t fall overboard.

Our horses were named Guinness and Jameson. They were perfectly trained and it was amazing how well they followed the directions of our driver! We couldn’t help but feel sorry for them though since it was so hot and they had to drag all of us around through the city.

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Our driver was able to share quite a bit of history about the city as we rode along and it made us all want to know more. It’s too bad we weren’t staying for a few days instead of only overnight.

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Aside from all the history, we learned that Spanish moss is neither Spanish nor moss! It’s a spore that floats around and attaches to the trees! I thought it looked really cool hanging off of the branches but our guide told us not to touch it because it’s full of chiggers. Ouch!

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A large part of Forrest Gump was filmed in Savannah, and the bench that Tom Hanks sits on in the movie was originally where that sign (Chippewa Square) is in the photo above. They were going to leave it there but when people kept writing on it, they moved it. Another tidbit about the bench; from my photo you can see which way we are traveling on the horses, but for the movie they had traffic routed the opposite direction just so that when the bus pulled up, the doors would open right in front of Forrest. :) Bet you didn’t know that!

***At some point during the morning, Tony asked me if I’d remembered the tickets for Disney and SeaWorld. My heart sank when I realized that I hadn’t, and neither had he. We’d been so caught up in remembering everything that we forgot the darn tickets! <facepalm> We ended up calling his mom who in turn went to our house and got the tickets and would later overnight them to us. She sent them on Saturday and we had them here a the resort on Monday morning. What a panic we were in when we realized our mistake! Thank goodness for Mema! She sure came to the rescue!***

After the tour it was time for us to head back to our room and pack up. We were out of the hotel by 11am and after a quick lunch at Sonic, we were on the road to Florida!

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It took us a good 5 hours to finally get to our hotel and man were we ready to get out of the van. As soon as Tony parked, we all jumped out and ran around outside while he got our keys and passes and whatnot.

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When we finally went inside to see what was taking Tony so long we spotted a couple of characters walking around greeting the kids. Dakota was very interested in them while Harper was indifferent. She really wanted to look at them, but she didn’t want to touch them or take a picture…even when I offered to be in the picture with her!

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As soon as the van was unloaded, we grabbed our bathing suits and headed to the pool.

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Dakota saw Landon do a handstand and this was her version:

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It was a nice end to a LONG trip down here! Now we’re ready to have some fun!

Sunday, July 20, 2014

A Stop in Savannah

After driving for the better part of the day, we decided to stop for the night in Savannah, Georgia. We booked a hotel from the car and pulled in around 6pm or so. Modern technology is wonderful for stuff like that!

We checked in and got situated then decided to walk downtown to find something to eat. We were all tired and Harper had a major melt down. I can’t remember now what started all the crying, but I know it escalated into a 45min. meltdown session once he fell and scraped his knee. I swear he cried and cried for what felt like centuries.

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We wanted to eat somewhere new and exciting, but when Harper wouldn't stop the theatrics, I decided we’d better just hurry up and find something, which is how we ended up eating at Panera.

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While we were eating, Harper did end up calming down and things got WAY better. From the window we could see horse tours going up and down the streets. We thought it would be fun to do that, so Tony got on his phone and booked us a tour for the next morning. (Gotta love that technology!) We also saw some trolley tours as well as ghost car tours. That little city has a ton of history and a ton of ghosts! This kind of trolley tour looked especially fun:

After dinner we thought we’d meander through the city for awhile and see what was going on. Best decision ever!

We found this cute little boutique and Harper was excited to see that it shared his name!

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Savannah is made up of many squares. I can’t remember exactly how many, but I think it’s 22. As we were walking around, the two littles were being a bit crazy, so I made up a story about the squares being magical. I told Harper that he couldn’t run through the grass because it was full of magic fairies and he might step on one if he went in there. That was all it took for his little imagination to run wild and it did keep the two of them from running through the gardens. We pretended the statues were where the kind and queen fairies lived and Harper spent a good amount of time looking for little fairies in the grass. I think he looked at everything a little differently for the rest of the night, and he was in a great mood from then on.

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When we came to a square where there was live music and a splash fountain, I knew we’d hit the jackpot! As soon as Harper saw the fountains he asked me if he could run through them. Of course I said yes! That is what vacations are all about, right?

We had to drag Harper out of the water, he was just loving it! It was getting pretty late though and we needed to get ready for bed and prepare for another day of driving.

Off We Go!

We are officially on vacation right now, but I can’t wait until we get home to blog all of this or it’ll never get done! Hopefully I’ll be able to blog a little every couple days or so, but we’ll see!

The night before we left, Tony decided to shave off all of his facial hair. Why, you ask? Well, 10 years ago when we went to Disney, he decided to grow some facial hair. So, here all these years later he thought this might be the right time to try going back to a smooth face…

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I could hardly believe how different he looked! The transformation was shocking! Dakota wouldn’t even look at him and kept hiding her face! She got used to it pretty quick but I told him to grow it back! I guess I prefer him with the facial hair…something that I wouldn’t have said 10 years ago!

We left home on Thursday, at 7:25am. We were shooting for 7am, so we were a little late, but getting 6 people out of the house that early is no simple task. We (Tony, the two big kids and I) were pretty nervous about the drive down here because Dakota isn’t known for her good car behavior, but it turned out that we were worried for nothing. She was amazing. She was completely content to sit and play the iPad or talk to us or to herself. She took a great nap also, which is something very rare for her to do in the car. She never cried and was just really wonderful. It sure made our trip a lot less painful. Harper is a great car kid, so it goes without saying that he did great as well. He just watched movies with Landon and played the iPad or looked at books. He did ask us a few times how far were we going to go, but other than that, he was as quiet as a mouse.

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We took a nice long break to run around and stretch our legs once we got to North Carolina. We meant to pack a picnic lunch and hang out for a bit, but in all the craziness we forgot half of what we needed. Turns out it wasn’t the only thing we forgot…

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*No pictures of Landon because he was being quite the grouch. 13 year old hormones and all that.Smile