Naples, Florida Family Vacation July 2014

07/22/2014

The real reason I didn’t write any blog posts for 2 weeks is because we left for vacation a couple days after Firefly left and there was a lot to catch up on at home and work when we got back. Jason and I love to vacation in Naples, Florida. I think we’ve gone 4 times in the past 5 years. This was the first time Ali has been there, though. She’s been to the beach before but this time she was old enough to really enjoy it and play in the sand and water. She’s a little fish and the Gulf in South Florida is warm, clear and gentle. We stayed in Foxfire Country Club in a condo that happened to have a bunch of really cool mid-century modern teak furniture. The pool was warm and we usually had it all to ourselves. Ali did awesome on the 12-14 hour car ride both ways. She’s a pro traveler. We used our DVD player for the first time. On the way to Florida she watched Frozen 4.5 times! Once there we saw so much native wildlife, mostly found by or spotted by Jason. He caught 5 large 9-point starfish out in the ocean. He also found 2 live sand dollars. We released all of them after admiring them. We also saw dolphins, manatees, sting rays (I stepped on one that didn’t have a tail. Phew!) and tons of little lizards in the wild. We visited the Everglades Wonder Garden and saw captive alligators, parrots, macaws, turtles and tortoises, butterflies, flamingos and lots of other birds and reptiles. We ate so much good seafood, saw gorgeous sunsets and had lots of time to play and have fun together as a family of three. We had our vacation planned long before Firefly joined our family but God must have known that it’s timing would perfect for our family to escape the painful realities at home and reset.

Ready for the photo overload?

IMG_5788 IMG_5794 IMG_5799 IMG_5800 IMG_5810 IMG_5816 IMG_5817 IMG_5821 IMG_5824 IMG_5828 IMG_5831 IMG_5832 IMG_5836 IMG_5847 IMG_5850 IMG_5857

IMG_5963 IMG_5964 IMG_5965 IMG_5966

IMG_5882 IMG_5890 IMG_5900 IMG_5905 IMG_5918 IMG_5956 IMG_5958

signature


Vacation Via Twitter (Not Really)

09/19/2011

I have a policy about not telling the internet world when we’re out of town so I don’t write much on Twitter during vacation. I did think about tweeting a lot though. Here’s what I would have said:

9/5/11 3:30pm We’re off to Naples! Or at least as far as we can drive tonight.

9/5/11 6:23pm Shared a delicious pot roast dinner at Cracker Barrel. Their service is so fast and good, cheap food, too.

9/5/11 6:59pm Cracker Barrel has more billboards than any other single company in the country. I learned that in an advertising class.

9/6/11 12:05am Cozy home away from home: air mattress in the back of the silver bullet. Yes, that’s right. We’re not paying for a motel to sleep for a few hours.

9/6/11 5:30am The sun is not up yet but we’re wide away thanks to the parking lot cleaner guy and his leaf blower. Back in the Wal-Mart to use the bathroom then we’re off to find a Starbucks.

9/6/11 1:22pm We arrived at our hotel in Naples. I drove the last 2 of 14 hours. Gotta do my part.

9/6/11 1:35pm It’s sunny and humid and beautiful. Straight to the beach we go.

9/6/11 4:47pm Complete relaxation this afternoon. No walking along the beach. No playing in the ocean. Just sitting and absorbing. Peace.

9/6/11 7:04pm Amazingly delicious and HUGE dinner at Cracklin’ Jack’s tonight. Fried Grouper was outta this world. It would have taken us hours to eat all this food. #vittles

9/7/11 We both got our ocean fix today. I got to ride waves and float around in the warm, sparkly salt water while Jason got to play beach explorer and found shells, sand dollars and crabs. I found some half-buried sunglasses.

9/7/11 8:10pm Dinner tonight was a surprise… the most we’ve ever paid for a meal. Surprise! Yelp has just $$ by this restaurant where it definitely should have been $$$. Cloyde’s was super, though. No complaints.

9/7/118:12pm I got the Chilean Sea Bass which was good but Jason got the surf and turf. The filet mignon was ahhmazing.

9/7/11 8:15pm “This filet mignon is so moist and soft it’s like cake. Meat cake.” – me

9/7/11 9:36pm We drove around looking for a good ice cream place and ended up back at the hotel ice cream less. Walked in and out of Reginas because we didn’t have cash. #getacreditcardmachine #youarelosingbusiness

9/18/11 9:04am Best Western Naples has a lovely poolside continental breakfast. We’re surrounded by palm trees, flowers and cute little lizards.

9/8/11 9:45am Checking out the Collier County free museum today. Mostly interested in the native plant garden.

9/8/11 12:11pm There are so many beautiful, modest mid-century modern ranches in Naples. It’s a shame they keep getting bulldozed to build beach mansions.

9/8/11 2:45pm Saw a blackish fin pop up in the water about a 100 yds from me. Moment of panic. Then I saw another fin and realized it was 2 dolphins. #relief #sharkavoidance

9/8/11 4:32pm It was supposed to rain all day but it ended up not raining at all. Another perfect beach day for the one who loves the water and the one who loves the shore.

9/8/11 9:01pm Tasty dinner at Grouper and Chips tonight. Not as good as Cracklin’ Jack’s but cheaper. Sat outside in the romantic neon glow of the OPEN sign.

9/8/11 9:03pm Stopped at Dairy Queen for ice cream just before a storm broke out. We were slightly disturbed by the sight of this shirtless man.

9/9/11 11:11am Hit around 10 thrift and antique stores today and nada. All gaudy, beach condo junk. The Emporium has a few exceptions. Thought seriously about a set of 4 dining chairs (only one w arms) for $350 but passed.

9/9/11 1:43pm Lunch at a delightful British restaurant downtown on 5th St. in Naples called the Jolly Cricket. Filet mignon sliders were awesome.

9/9/11 1:45pm We’re off to Disney World!

9/9/11 5:22pm Checked in to Disney’s Contemporary Resort after being interrogated by the nazi border patrol parking attendant. “Why are you here?”

9/9/11 5:45pm I think this is my favorite hotel room ever!

9/9/11 6:00pm It’s pouring. I’m not going out there.

9/9/11 6:30pm Rain is letting up so we’re hopping on the monorail into Magic Kingdom to meet up with our Disney rep. Ish who will get me up close to all the stages for photos.

9/9/11 1:00am Damp and exhausted but we had fun. Bands I photographed: Francesca Battistelli, Group 1 Crew (awesome stage show!) and Matthew West.

9/10/11 1:05am We also rode It’s A Small World and a handful of other Magic Kingdom attractions.

9/10/11 10:23am Happy Birthday to my sister-in-law Ginger! I hope it’s a great day!

9/10/11 5:15pm Resting at the Contemporary after a long day at Epcot. I think Mission: SPACE is definitely one of my favorites so far.

9/10/11 7:00pm Took the walking trail into Magic Kingdom this time. The plan tonight: Sanctus Real, rides, Kutless, TobyMac, rides.

9/10/11 11:55pm Got soaked in the front row of Splash Mountain. The line was too long for Space Mountain so we gave up. Another fun but exhausting day!

9/11/11 11:30am Today’s agenda: Animal Kingdom and then Hollywood Studios.

9/11/11 3:15pm A Bug’s Life 3D show is definitely another fav! Also the Africa Safari was pretty cool. Heading to Hollywood Studios now.

9/11/11 6:10pm We enjoyed the Star Wars 3D ride so much we went on it twice. Also my roller coaster hating husband LOVED the Rock n Roller Coaster! #adrenalinerush

9/11/11 9:30pm We’re all Disney’d out. Strange, beautiful lightning cloud on our way out. Lightning keeps repeatedly lighting up inside this cloud column…flashes and bolts.

9/11/11 10:55pm Watching the fireworks over Magic Kingdom in my pjs from our balcony at the Contemporary. Perfect end to our Disney World adventure. #ilovefireworks


Back to Reality

09/13/2011

Jason and I had a lovely week away in Florida. We spent the first part of last week in Naples, one of our favorite towns. Then the past weekend was spent in Disney World. I’ll share more about our trip (and other happenings) once I dig myself out of all these piles of email and laundry and find time to buy groceries. Priorities, you know.


Great Grandpa Carl

07/14/2010

The reason we went to Naples for vacation is because Jason has such fond memories of a vacation his family took when he was 7 years old to visit his great-grandfather Carl Ludwig Ahlbrandt.

From his obituary: “Mr. Ahlbrandt was president of the Carpenters Union Local 1641 from 1968 to 1975. He also has the honor of becoming the director of apprenticeship, State of Florida, Division of Labor, Bureau of Apprenticeship. He and his students built the Carl Ahlbrandt Building of the local carpenters apprenticeship school on Enterprise Avenue in Naples. It was designated as the last school built in the United States by an instructor and his students.”

Here’s their mint green ranch the way Jason remembered it circa 1989:

There was a lime tree and a mango tree to the right of the house and pineapples growing on the left side. Coconut and palm trees lined the property. The house was a 0.5 mile walk to the beach. We put his address in the GPS and found the empty lot where his house once stood. It was sad to see it gone.

Jason spent a lot of time walking around the yard remembering. Mourning the house a little bit. The lot is for sale so we called to inquire about it. Way out of reach. But we can dream … Maybe someday we’ll buy up that lot and rebuild a mid-century modern home here.

The mango tree was nothing but a stump in the ground but the unkempt lime tree was still here. Jason picked the one and only lime off of it and took it with him.

Naples still has a large majority of it’s original mid-century homes. That makes it even harder to see that this one is gone.

As an artist, entrepreneur, gardener and go-getter, Jason feels a special connection to his great-grandfather. For me, it was a neat experience to get to know Carl a little bit through photographs and stories and by walking around his former yard.

We tried with no avail to find the building that was named after Carl. Apparently, there are several buildings around Naples and Marco Island that he built or helped build but we didn’t have a list of those addresses. Next trip. Next time.


Naples, Florida Vacation

07/12/2010

Not much to report from the ranch this week because we’ve been on vacation in Naples, Florida! Jason and I had a great week with our dear friends Laren and Jeremy. Jason’s great grandfather lived in Naples and he has wonderful memories of visiting there as a boy. He’s been wanting to go back there for years and we finally made it. It’s a really beautiful little beach town that apparently had a housing boom in the 1950s-70s. More on that later. Today, here are some fun vacation pictures.

Dinner at Kelly’s on our first night

Jeremy and Laren are great travel buddies!

Ice cream at Regina’s

Jason is picking up real estate catalogs … are we too young to own a second home at the beach?

Mini golf at Coral Cay

Jason won. He said he can’t remember a time when he didn’t win a mini golf game!

Leading the processional to the beach

When Jason was a boy he remembers finding hermit crabs and starfish and sand dollars and beautiful seashells in Naples. He turned into a little boy again as he was exploring the shoreline. He’s so cute!

Two conch shells with … clams/mussels/conches? inside

We admired them for a while and then Jason tossed them back out to sea.

Some girl found this starfish and shared it with us. It was neat to flip it over and watch it flip itself back.

Waves aren’t very big in Naples. Just calm, clear and warm.

Jason and I wanted a picture to show how clear the water was but I’m not sure if you can really tell here.

We’re already planning our next trip back to Naples!