Thursday, January 29, 2015

Sixth Year Anniversary in the Florida Keys

This past June marked a big one for Dallas and I...
Six Years of Married Bliss!
Ok, so maybe it hasn't all been so blissful.  Especially through the many different trials that have shaped us to the couple we are today, but I have to say it's been a pretty incredible ride so far.  He continues to make me laugh, and makes me feel deeply loved and cared for.  We've grown so much over the past year and experienced so many new and fun adventures.  I'm excited to see where our lives' journey will take us in the future and so so grateful I have this man by my side every step of the way!

For our sixth year anniversary, Dallas and I were able to sneak down to Key Largo for the weekend.  A BIG thank you goes out to the Bradford family who took shifts watching our little man throughout our weekend away.  It was quite refreshing and a little weird to be traveling on our own!
Dallas put in a half day at work and then we were able to drive down to Key Largo, which is only a little over an hour south of where we live.  We immediately explored the hotel grounds and took obnoxious selfies...what else do you do without a toddler in tow!?

The hotel grounds
I was in love with all the gorgeous flowers.

Not too bad, huh!?

The Florida Keys are so interesting to me.  The keys are built mostly on rock so the beaches are not the typical beaches you find north.  You can find some sandy beaches throughout the drive down the several keys, but mostly you see rocky reef and mangrove forests.  It is truly stunning!  Although it made me have an even greater desire to get a boat!

We found this guy walking along our path to the lobby.  I loved how vibrant green he was.  We stared at each other for a few minutes as he posed for the camera and then slowly walked away.  I constantly find myself asking, "Where in the world am I?" when I experience things like this.

When we arrived, we had a few minutes to wait for our room, so Dallas finished up some last minute work stuff as I teased him profusely.  Yeah I'm the supportive wife!
After we got settled into our room, we booked a glass bottom tour for the molasses reef, off the coast of Key Largo.  It was quite beautiful, with the clearest water, and we were able to see so many different marine life.

The views from our Glass bottom boat tour as we were exiting the canals of Key Largo.  It reminded me a lot of Fort Lauderdale on a smaller scale.

So much beauty!

The water was absolutely stunning, with the most gorgeous patches of light and dark blues.  On our way out to the reef we were able to see sea turtles, lots of different fish, and some of the passengers next to me saw a hammerhead shark (I missed it of course!)

I am prone to sea sickness and yet LOVE to be on the water which is a bit of a predicament, but as long as I stay outside with the air blowing on my face, I'm fine.  When we got over the reef, I went downstairs to see all the different animals.  Since we were going slow it wasn't rocking too bad and didn't effect me too much which was nice.  We saw so many beautiful things and furthered my desire to get dive certified.  We were even able to follow a nurse shark around for awhile.  

On our way back, we were able to see several sea turtles which are definitely my favorite.  It was the perfect way to end our tour, that's for sure!

After our glass bottom tour, we had a very yummy dinner at Jimmy Johnson's Big Chill which was right on the water and had the best sunset views.  Not to mention, incredible virgin Pina Coladas...

The next day was a bit of a tropical mess.  We did our best driving down the keys, stopping at local fun stores and exploring trails and beaches, but we were thwarted numerous times by torrential rain.  Like most tropical environments, the rain only lasts a short while, but when it rains it pours!  We were not able to do our morning snorkeling trip due to the rain, but we still made the most of our day.  Plus it's not too stressful or disappointing when you live so close.

One of our favorite stops was the Rain Barrel shops.  It was filled with the quirkiest sculptures, clothes, woodworking, and all sorts of other handmade items from locals found in the keys.  On the outside was a humungous lobster, probably to catch the eyes of drivers down the keys, which worked for us!

We found it at the perfect time since another storm started brewing right as we pulled up.  Behind the main store was an additional several shops full of interesting items.  It was beautiful and had vegetation growing within and surrounding the paths, which made it feel like we were walking through a jungle to each store.  I also loved all the different pinwheels everywhere.  Reminded us of sweet little Liam.

There were even hermit crabs that you could buy, which were really fun to watch.  We brought Dax back there on another trip and he loved watching them as well.

On one of the rare occasions that the sun was fully out, we hopped out of our car and explored the seven-mile bridge.  It was SUPER hot, since there is obviously no shade while walking on the bridge, but the views were amazing and I loved looking over the side watching for different marine life.

One of our favorite keys we explored was Duck Key, mostly made up of private residences.  The roads were beautiful and often crossed over stunning canals with the cutest bridges.  I later was able to book an outing on Duck Key for my New Zealand girls in the fall and was super excited to more fully explore the island.

Our last stop before heading home was also timed out perfectly in-between storms.  When we first moved to south Florida my parents and I explored the keys while Dallas was traveling for work.  On our drive out of the keys we found an awesome hidden beach called Anne's Beach but none of us were dressed in our swimsuits to really enjoy it.  When Dallas surprised me with a weekend getaway to the keys I wanted to make sure that we put Anne's Beach on our list of things to do.  It did not disappoint, although it was so stinking HOT!  We loved walking along the wooden raised paths throughout the mangroves.  It is not a well known beach, so there was no one around and left to the natural elements.  It was pretty fun to explore.

We set up camp next a gorgeous mangrove tree and then waded out into the ocean.  Since there is a reef couple miles off the coastline, there are absolutely no waves.  This would have been ideal except for it being right in the middle of summer.  Walking into the water we quickly realized that the temperature of the ocean during June is comparable to a hot tub, which is not very refreshing when you're already so stinking hot.  Plus, since there are no waves, the bottom of the ocean is filled with a lot of sediment.  I much prefer the feel of fresh sand between my toes!  I've gotten picky while living down here.  The water is also very shallow for a long ways out (you can see a couple walking in the far distance in the picture below.)

After awhile we decided to grab some dinner and then head home, right in time for another big rainstorm to come through.  It really was a great weekend spending some much needed one on one time with my hubby.  Another big THANKS to the Bradford family for taking care of Daxton.  We all know how much he loves you guys!

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