If you’ve been following my blog over the past couple of years, you would know that we rotate our Christmases between Bobby’s dad in VA, Bobby’s mom in MN, and my parents in FL. This year, we were due to spend Christmas in Florida with my parents and looking forward to warmer weather.
I’ve celebrated a few Christmases in Florida since my parents bought their house in 2005. It’s not the traditional snowy, cold Christmas but it has its own perks like warm weather, seafood, and lots of pool time for the dog.
My parents live in Daytona, which is about an 8-hour drive from Raleigh. Our original plan was to leave after work on Friday, but I had an acquisition at work that was delayed until Friday, so I needed to be available all day that day. Luckily, my boss allowed me to work from home on Friday so Bobby and I could drive to Florida on Thursday. We got in really late, and since I had to work all day on Friday we didn’t do much.
My parents spoil Mowgli with constant attention and love. My dad usually plays fetch with him in the yard or in the pool. And Mowgli LOVES the pool. Like, obsessed! When we arrived late (around 1 am) on Thursday, Mowgli ran straight to the pool. Of course, we didn’t let him go in, but he was up at 5 am the next morning (and every morning after that) ready to jump in the pool.
On Saturday, we visited Blue Spring State Park in Deland and got to see hundreds of manatees! The spring stays at 72 degrees year round, so in the winter months, hundreds of manatees and fish migrate to the spring. When we pulled into the park, there was a sign that said they counted 317 manatees that morning. I was thinking, how on earth can they count that many manatees. Then I realized how shallow and clear the spring was…and how slow manatees move. But 317?! There were so many! We got to see one up close under a dock. I didn’t realize how hairy manatees are!
Also located at Blue Springs State Park is the Thursby House. This 150-year-old home was one of the first steamboat landings along the St. Johns River. They had the original land title from 1883, birth and death records from the same time period, Louis Thursby’s marriage certificate, and several household items on display. I’m always fascinated with items that are kept from that time period.
Saturday night we drove through Magic of Lights at the Daytona Speedway, a 1.5-mile light display. I grew up going to the Festival of Lights in Bull Run, VA, but the display at Daytona put it to shame. There were so many lights! Proceeds from the event were donated to the Florida Hospital Memorial Medical Center Foundation.
On Sunday, my dad, Bobby and I went skydiving. Bobby and I have been once before, a little over 2 years ago. My dad wanted to go with us the first time, but schedules didn’t align. There are a few things I remember from the first jump.
- How crammed we were on the plane ride up.
- How tight the harness was.
- Looking at the horizon during the freefall.
- How much I didn’t like corkscrewing down once the parachute was deployed.
The second go around, I wanted to be more attentive to the actual jump itself. My adrenalin was so high that I forgot what it felt like to actually jump. Here’s what I remembered after the second time:
- The harness was WAY tighter than I remember.
- You’re flying in a small plane at about 100-ish mph and then start falling (perpendicular to the plane) at roughly 150-170 mph. I’m sure there’s some sort of physics explanation, but the shift in momentum was crazy.
- I realized how cold my hands and face were during freefall. At 14,000 feet the atmosphere is pretty cold.
- I thought my face was going to fall off when the parachute was deployed. When the parachute catches the air, it feels like you’re pulled in the complete opposite direction. I think they call it velocity in science. My cheeks felt like they were down to my chest.
I’m glad I went a second time, but I have no desire to go again. I still highly recommend it for everyone. Definitely an experience I’ll never forget. Especially with my dad! Go dad!
We were all pretty exhausted after skydiving, so we just lounged around and napped the rest of the day.
On Christmas Eve, we went to Shelly’s for lunch. Shelly’s is a restaurant on the beach that we eat at every time we are in Daytona. The BEST seafood! It’s actually not called Shelly’s, it’s called Our Deck Down Under. My dad has been going there for 20 years and knows the manager, Shelly. So we call it Shelly’s! Now all of our family and friends know it as Shelly’s!
After lunch, we went for a walk on the beach. Then we made and set up the luminaries at my parent’s house. The bags and candles were sold by the local high school as a fundraiser. We lined the driveway and sidewalk in front of the house. We lit them at sunset and watched the neighborhood golf cart parade.
Christmas Day was nice and relaxing. We opened presents and stockings. We received an Echo as a wedding gift and we love it! We thought it would be a great gift for each set of parents. We sent one to Minnesota for Bobby’s mom, one to Virginia for Bobby’s dad and stepmom, and one in Florida for my parents. My brother bought my parents a Chromecast so they could watch Netflix on their TV. Previously, they’d order the DVDs or watch it on the computer in the office. They were pretty excited about both gifts!
My parents invited some longtime friends over for dinner. They lived across the street from us in Virginia then moved to Florida shortly after my parents did. We ate Dungeness King Crab legs that were the size of my arm! It was so good! Then we gathered in the living room and played Jackbox TV. If you haven’t heard about it, it’s really cool!
After a few goodbyes, we hit the road Wednesday morning. It was a short long weekend, but we crammed in a lot. Now that the holidays are over, Bobby and I are looking forward to spending the next few months in Raleigh…not traveling.