Monday, February 2, 2015

Stoker Family Comes to Visit

The last week of September we had a very fun surprise!
The Stoker family came down from Gainesville for a quick visit.  Robby and Dallas were mission companions in Thailand and have been friends ever since.  I love how excited Dallas gets when Robby is around.  I also love Robby's wife Kate.  She is seriously one of the funniest, most kind and thoughtful people I have ever met.  We love spending time with them and their adorable boys!

Sadly, Dallas was pretty bogged down with work when they came down for their visit, but was able to at least hang out with us for a bit.  The day they arrived we took them out for yummy Cuban food and then brought them to Fort Lauderdale beach for a picnic.  After eating dinner we had a fun evening at the beach.  It was in the middle of rainy season and there had been a few storms roll in earlier so Robby found some surprises.  There were jelly fish near where they were swimming (luckily no stings) and also a couple puffer fish that had been washed up on shore.

The boys

The perfect way to spend our evening!
I love Drue's adorable smile in the bottom right picture.

When did my little man grow up!?
He looks so old in these pictures below.  It breaks my heart to see him growing so quickly.  I just want him to stay my baby forever!

The awesome puffer fish Robby was able to find.
Those spikes are sharp!


The next day Dallas had to work so I tool the Stoker family down to our favorite airboat place.  The Everglades Alligator Farm has become our favorite fan boat experience.  It's an hour south, in Homestead, so we only bring visitors there if we have enough time, but it is a lot more fun than the tours up near where we live.  First of all it is at the base of the Everglades so alligators are everywhere.  Secondly, the pathways are not manmade canals like those closer to our home.  They take you out through the Everglades where at times you think you are going to get stuck in the grass.  Third, it's totally open and the pilots do 360 turns throughout the tour.  It's always super fun!  Lastly, they supply headphones that block out the loud noise from the airboat's engine.

It turned out to be a VERY rainy day, but of course Kate was prepared with ponchos for everyone.  Robby got some of the best shots with his GoPro as well.  It was a great day!

All of us on the airboat at the beginning of the ride.  I love how Daxton's looking up at Robby totally confused as to what he's doing.  

Before our airboat ride we went to the alligator wrestling show.
Kate and I may or may not have purposely dress Drue and Daxton in the same shirt :)

Even though we've seen all the different alligator wrestling moves over and over, it's still pretty cool!

After the show, we all took turns holding the baby gator.  I LOVE Tommy's proud smile holding the gator all by himself.

After the show we all headed over to our boat.  Immediately we were able to see alligators in the water.

Such beautiful country
It's so crazy looking at the small stream in front of the us!  Those are the paths the airboat glides across.  It's a pretty incredible experience.

I loved looking down at Daxton's amazing hair as it blew in the wind.

Our pilot was awesome and took us on several 360s.  We all got drenched from water splashing up onto the boat.  It was such a fun ride!  Robby got the BEST videos from our tour as well.

Dripping wet from not only our airboat but also a continuous downpour, we explored more the park.  We were able to see the Alligator feeding which was pretty crazy.  There were so many alligators in the different ponds.
It was a super fun day, but we were all sopping wet by the time we were ready to leave.  It felt good to get back in a warm car and head back for hot showers and dry clothes.

The next day Robby and Kate took their boys down to Key Largo (a little over an hours drive south) to explore the Florida keys.  I felt horrible though because the weather turned out so poorly for them.  There were massive storms, but they were able to get on the glass bottom boat tour.  The waters were a bit rough, but they were still able to see several things.  I just wished the weather would have cooperated a bit better for them.

The following day I took them to Hollywood beach.  I thought it'd be fun to hang out at the beach and then walk along the boardwalk for yummy food and ice cream.  There's also a fun splash pad there.  Sadly, the weather did NOT cooperate.  We did get to spend a couple hours at the beach before having to leave due to lightening warnings.  I so wish it would have been better weather for them while they were visiting.  It's hard to make plans with the unpredictability of rainy season.

Enjoying Hollywood Beach

Building Sand Castles

Eating snacks and destroying sand castles

The boys played so well together.  I sure do love their sweet little guys.

Daxton was so funny with our body board.  He was totally pretending to surf.  I also loved his jumping pictures!

Oh man, one smile and my heart melts!

It was so cute to see Drue and Daxton playing together.  They chased birds around in circles forever.  I love these two together! 

Look at those storm clouds rolling in as Rob was snorkeling!
It really was so good to have the Stokers stay with us.  We wish it could have been longer, especially since Dallas could only see them after work, but we totally understand.  We love them so much and are so grateful for their friendship.  
Thanks so much again for coming down to visit!
We love you guys so much.  Let's do it again soon!

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