Thursday, January 24, 2013

A Winter Florida Visit

My dad moved from Washington state to Florida almost 9 years ago. The first time I went to visit him was in August of 2004, and I arrived just in time to experience my first hurricane, Hurricane Frances. After that, I vowed to never visit Florida during hurricane season, and instead have always gone in January or February.

Now is a great time of year to leave the Pacific Northwest. The bustle of the holidays is over, and while the days are getting longer, spring still feels like a long ways off. I find that even a week in a warm place can do wonders. The morning I left it was a little foggy in Seattle, but once we were air born it was crystal clear over the Cascade Mountains.
I flew into Tampa, and even the late night air was warm and balmy. In the morning, the sky was blue and I sat on the back deck drinking coffee with my dad and his girlfriend. They recently moved into a condo community called Chelsea Meadows, and my dad likes to proclaim after waking up, "It feels like a Chelsea Morning!" And then he puts on the Joni Mitchell song, and we have a second cup of coffee and start chipping away at catching up on the last 3 years of not seeing each other.

Later that morning, unfortunately, the clouds rolled in, the wind picked up, the temperature dropped, and it rained most of the rest of the day. The unusual winter cold front stayed for the whole week I was there, after consistently sunny weather in the 70's and 80's right before I arrived. It changed our plans a bit, but our spirits could not be dampened. Despite the cold, it was still so refreshing for me to be in a warmer climate, where cherry tomatoes are still on the vine and strawberries are about to be ripe. Where bright oranges hang heavy on trees. Where snapdragons, hibiscus, bougainvillea, and poinsettias are blooming. Where I get to see wildlife that's different from the Northwest, like Sandhill Cranes and wild turkeys.

We took a day trip over to the eastern side of the state to visit my dad's sister. We drove over with my other aunt and her daughter, who are both lovely people who I wish I could see more of. It was just a hop, skip, and a jump from Titusville to the Atlantic Ocean, so we took a side trip to Cape Canaveral National Seashore.

Otherwise it was a very mellow trip, just having a nice chance to hang out with family. We chatted, made meals, listened to music, went for walks, did car maintenance, watched movies, and soaked in hot tubs... which is just how some vacations are meant to be.