"They say America is beautiful,
And I sure hope they're right.
If I could see you across the water
I'd say 'America is beautiful tonight'..."
-Great Big Sea, "Yankee Sailor"
Hello, blog friends! This is Summer! Well, all good things must come to an end... including our trip to Florida. Now we're back in Newfoundland, and back in our winter coats - today we even had a snowstorm. Very different from our time in the sun. Maybe we can make ourselves feel warmer by reliving it.
So, when we left off, it was Tuesday. On Wednesday, we went to a little town called Tarpon Springs. The family went there last year, too. It's a little community by the water, originally mostly Greek. It was founded on the sponge diving industry, and when the town first started, people would regularly go out in their diving suits with their forks and collect sponges. Nowadays the main industry is tourism, but boats still go out - even sponge diving tours. We ate seafood overlooking the water, then walked around looking at the shops. Blakeney bought an evil eye (good luck charm) suncatcher for the house.
On Thursday, we went to the beach again. We spent some time walking the trails at the park, then cooked chicken on the grill for lunch. After lunch, we went swimming in the ocean.
Friday, we went to a museum for a change of pace, to avoid spending a lot of time in the sun every day. They had buildings from different times in Florida's history, including a school house, a home, a church, a citrus packing plant, a general store, a train depot and locomotive engine, and a barn full of old farm vehicles and carriages. It was really neat! Our only regret was that a lot of the stuff wasn't labeled, so sometimes it was hard to tell what was what. Some things were just obvious, though... and some things Cécile and Marie-Grace explained to us, because it was from their time. It was interesting to see those girls in a setting where they just fit in, rather than as fish out of water in modern times the way we're used to seeing them.
Saturday we rented kayaks and took them out into the channels and mangrove areas near the condo where we stayed. It was really fun. We got to see a lot of birds, a lot of cool mangrove trees, and a variety of houses and boats along the channels. One heron let us get really close, then flew right over our heads screeching. After four and a half hours paddling around, we were pretty tired, and Blakeney had a terrible sunburn, especially on her knees and hands. (We've never seen a sunburn that was purple before.) We had a really good time, though, and were glad we went!
On Sunday, some of us went to the local Anglican church. We didn't have time to go to the beach that day, so we went swimming in the pool. Then in the evening, we went to a Greek restaurant, where we had flaming cheese (They really set it on fire! "Opa!") and smelts (little fish) for our appetizers, then bowls of lemon chicken soup for our meal. The entertainment was a belly dancer, which was really fun. Most of the audience were kind of wet blankets, but we got up and danced with her! It was a cool show and a fun evening.
Monday was our last full day in Florida, because on Tuesday we would leave in the early afternoon. We went to the beach again... and that was where we got some unexpected insight into our mysterious gift giver who has been sending our resident vampires stuff to protect them against the sun.
While we were in the water, a girl we didn't know was swimming nearby. She looked somewhere between my age and Josefina's, so like in the 12-14 range. We never found out for sure... and we didn't even learn her name, even though we spent a couple of hours with her! Every time someone was about to ask her about herself, she would change the subject or be too far away to hear the question. All of us figured that someone else had managed to ask, but when we talked about it later, no one had.
She seemed nice, though, and we had fun talking and swimming with her. We figured we'd just made a nice vacation acquaintance, and didn't think any more of it than that... until Tabitha's necklace got caught in her hair and unclasped. Although we're trying to save the vampire sun protection liquid to make it last as long as possible, all four of the vampires took some when we went swimming, for exactly that reason; a necklace could get lost in the water, and that could lead to vampire-on-fire consequences. So none of us panicked when it fell off, because it landed in the shallow water where we could still see it, and we knew Tabs would still be protected.
This new girl did not know that... but she knew Tabitha needed to be protected from the sun, because she ducked toward her trying to save her. When Tabitha didn't catch on fire, the girl looked embarrassed, and said as if to herself, "Oh good, you planned ahead." Before we could ask how she knew about that, she was swimming off in a different direction again.
We were going to invite her to go to the restaurant for supper with us, but at some point she just slipped off when no one was paying attention. It was very mysterious and odd. We wondered if she was the person who sent the presents - and now we're sure she was. After she'd gone, when we went back to our beach chairs, we found another bottle of 'vampire sunscreen' in our bag, with another note that said, "I thought you could use a refill, with the weather we've been having."
So now we know who sent us the gifts. We just don't know who she is, or how she knows about us, or why she cares what happens to us.
On Tuesday, we reluctantly said our goodbyes to Florida. We went out for breakfast at Cracker Barrel, then headed to the Tampa airport. Our trip home didn't go as expected, though. Before our final flight, the airline rep announced that the weather conditions in Newfoundland were such that they couldn't take a full flight. (I think it was too windy.) Some passengers would have to get off - and in exchange, we'd get a free hotel room, free food, and a $500 travel voucher per person for future trips. That was too good for our family to pass up! So we gave up our seats - and lightened the load considerably - and spent an unexpected night in Newark. We got home a day late, but it was worth it, because now it'll be easier to afford another vacation.
So that's how our trip went! With the snow falling outside, it was nice to relive sunny memories from our trip! :-)