Monday, February 2, 2015

NZ Reunion 2014 Day 1

My study teaching experience changed my life.
The relationships I made over a decade ago there, continue to be some of the most cherished friendships.  October brought our yearly NZ reunion.  It was Heather's 7th time visiting, Lisa's 3rd time, and Ashley's 2nd time.  I love them all so very much and was so so excited when they told me they wanted to come out to Florida for another visit!  About a month before they came I had already planned out an itinerary of fun for each of our days together...I'm pretty sure they could tell I was excited.  
Ashley arrived two days after our friends, the Marshall family, visited.  So we had just enough time to get feeling better, clean and sanitize the whole house.  Luckily we were all healthy by the time she arrived!  Lisa flew in the next day and then Heather soon after.  Dallas was a sweetheart and got me a waterproof GoPro since we've been doing so many water activities lately.  Little did we know that it would be such a highlight of our trip!

On a Thursday morning I had planned for us to drive down, do an Alligator tour, and then continue on driving down the Florida keys. While we were in the driveway we spent a few moments trying to figure out how to use the GoPro.  The bottom right picture is Dallas catching us in the act making sure the girls knew I was NOT allowed to use it while driving.  I don't know why he didn't think I could do both ;)

We drove an hour south to Homestead to the Everglades Alligator Farm.  I mentioned in previous posts why this has become our favorite airboat ride and it continues to be our favorite.  It also worked out perfectly because we were headed south down the Keys and Homestead is the gateway to the Florida keys.

Us girls in front of our airboat after we had ridden, thus our waterlogged state!
Lisa, Heather, Me, Daxton, and Ashley

Our weather for the weekend was great.  The sun shone bright, but the temps weren't too unbearable so it was perfect.  We had a pretty full boat so Lisa and Ashley sat in the front, while Heather and I sat in the second row.  Our pilot was awesome once again and did several 360 turns but even I was not prepared for the amount of water to come in our boat.  A wall of water from our turns came at the front of the boat so high that it literally covered Lisa and Ashley's heads!  Heather and I on the second row got totally drenched as well but we were hidden enough behind Lisa and Ashley for protection.  Daxton on the other hand was sitting on the seat next to me in a perfect window to see.  He was covered from head to toe with water before I could pull him on my lap.  He didn't cry at all, just looked more confused than anything.  It was crazy!  We had gone on so many airboat rides and never gotten that wet before!

Before our ride...

We immediately saw several alligators.

At the beginning of our ride...

Some of the beginning calmer turns...

Zipping through the sawgrass...

Luckily I had put my nice camera away to have a better grip on Daxton when we hit the main wall of water.  Otherwise my nice camera would have been ruined!

Pics with the Go Pro on the left as we were just starting our tour.
Then an after pic in all our wet glory!

After our airboat ride we made our way over to the Alligator wrestling show.  Daxton is pretty comfortable with the shows now and wanted to be in the pit with the wrestler.  I love Heather's expression while watching the show and the fact that Lisa is trying to pick the Everglades out of her hair.

After the show we all took turns holding and kissing the baby gators.

Daxton was so excited to see the baby gator again.  He pet the tummy, legs, and then played with it's little toes.  He's getting so good about being soft.

The alligator feeding pond

After finishing up at the Everglades Alligator Farm, we drove down through the Florida Keys.  Daxton fell asleep as us girls caught up and gawked at the beautiful scenery.  We stopped at the awesome shops Dallas and I had found while on our anniversary trip.  We took silly pics in front of the massive lobster and then explored the fun shops inside.

Daxton was happy until he realized the pirate wasn't giving up his sword.

One of my favorite things about the Florida keys are the hundreds of colorful pinwheels that line the different shops along the way.  It reminds me of sweet Liam every time.

So many fun little shops and quirky things to look at.  Daxton loved all the little hermit crabs we were able to see.

The outside collection of local pots and statues.

We hopped back in the car and continued driving down to Duck key where our resort, the Hawks Cay, was located.  We stayed in an incredible two story condo right on the waterway, with three bedrooms, three bathrooms, four balconies, a living room, dining room, and kitchen.  It was AMAZING! 

The gorgeous views from our condo.

I was a little nervous about our condo being so close to the water with a toddler, but Daxton was so good about not walking passed the cement unless he was holding one of our hands.

Such amazing views!

After getting settled in, we walked around the resort grounds.  There were a few pools, a salt water lagoon, restaurants and bars, and even a dolphin research center!

We could watch dolphins interact with guests and trainers for free right on the resort grounds.  Daxton was in was his mommy.
It was a great fun-filled first day with my NZ girls!
We really missed Katy not being able to come.  It was her first time in 6 years that she wasn't able to visit, but seeing that she's working full time and has two little ones, we totally understood!

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