Florida, Snowstorms and the Motorbike

We went away on a family holiday to Florida in February, we needed some beach time and to get away from the frigid north for a few days. Our trip was beset by snowstorms on the way out, and on the way back! The very next weekend it was so warm I was back out on my motorbike! Absolutely crazy weather…

We had been thinking about heading out to the beach for some Winter sun for a while, and settled on a long weekend (Thursday-Sunday) to head to a place called Clearwater. This was in stark contrast to our previous Florida holiday where we went to meet friends at Disney, we had the goal of hanging out on the beach, enjoying the weather, and having a swim. Our flights were direct, but the morning we were due to leave we were greeted with the first big snowstorm of the season.

Snowy Albany airport

Interesting drive down, delays, and an hour or so of full plane deicing later and we were off. We didn’t even get in that late, and we enjoyed a great few days at the beach. The weather was perfect, and it was just what we needed. We also enjoyed it much more than Disney, I think we already knew it but this confirmed our kids agreed that the beach is way more fun than the theme parks.

Beach near our hotel on the first night

The hotel was really nice with the staff offering our children a small stuffed toy on arrival, making them balloon things, and having their own resident parrot. We had a good few dolphin sightings, and there was a trolley service from our more remote hotel to the main Clearwater beach area. Going on the gulf side was great for the calmer water too, it helped build their confidence in the sea. We weren’t really ready to leave when it came to our final evening.

Imagine our surprise when we heard about a bigger storm on the way, and then later when I got the email from our airline letting me know that our flight had been cancelled. Looking online we had gone from our direct flight home in the middle of the day on Sunday to a connection on Tuesday getting back at around midnight! We also got to travel with our kids all day on Valentine’s day ;-) It was a bit of a nightmare, and thankfully our neighbors really helped us out with the house and pets during the storm.

Do you see it?

After accepting we were taking an extra two days in Florida we got in touch with friends down in the Miami area, and decided to drive down there to see them (we had been planning to for years). It was great to catch up with them, and they recommended the airboat tours in the Everglades. We had never seen alligators before, and had no idea just how placid they are, with our guide assuring us this guy was quite happy and had no intention of moving.

We spent the afternoon walking in the Everglades National Park, at Shark Alley with our kids. We were amazed again at alligators wallowing at the side of the path. We even happened upon a mother with a dozen or so babies in a small pool. The whole extended trip was filled with blue skies, a breeze, and great temperatures. We got to see a little of the edges of Miami, but never made it to the main downtown area this time. We then drove back to the airport on the 14th, and got free drinks on our Southwest flights as they are the love airline…

Some snow but a warm ride

The picture above was taken the Sunday after we returned, so exactly one week after our flights were cancelled due to the huge snowstorm! Still a decent amount of snow on the ground but it was warm and I rode in to work four out of the five days the following week. It looks like we missed the two biggest storms (and the only ones so far) of the season, but at least it has been warm enough to ride far more than expected! We had a great time in Florida too, and came back feeling recharged.

We need to spend more time at the beach, and I would love to figure out some way to make us closer to the beach so that goal is more realistic. Florida was a lot of fun, and February was a great time to go and see it although it is a shame we managed to book flights on the day of the only two major snowstorms we have seen this winter…

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