We arrived in Orlando about 10:30 and by the time we got the shuttle to the hotel, we were pooped.
Dad picked us up the next morning and took us back to his home in Rockledge about 40 minutes east.
We spent that day and one night there, then repacked for Clearwater - our favorite beach and our chosen fireworks location. We had such a good time there! As you can see, the 3rd & 4th were as different as two days could be.
Clearwater Beach ~ July 3rd
What a day this was. We were able to find parking close to the beach. No crowds. We found a little restaurant with great grouper sandwiches. While I waited to take them back to the beach, I indulged in a shot (tequila, Laura) and a beer. We're old pros at keeping our picnic out of the hands of marauding sea gulls. The weather was cool & overcast, but that was fine with us; we'd forgotten how HOT Florida is!
Clearwater Beach ~ July 4th
Clearwater on the 4th was another matter entirely.
We thought we were there early, arriving about 9:30, but no. Parking was already non-existent, so I let Joel out with 90% of our stuff and headed off on a parking search. I'm not even going to tell you what I paid to park that car, but it was covered and walkable. By the time I schlepped back, Joel had us set up in a great spot. The photo with the two umbrellas is our little piece of beachfront property. It was great fun.
I think we enjoyed watching the little kids more than anything. Some were clearly first-timers and there seemed to be no half measures: either parents couldn't keep them OUT of the water, or the couldn't get them IN. Just way too cute & funny. We had a great day, used tons of sunscreen and got burned anyway, and watched the crowds ebb & flow. By sunset it was beginning to clear out and the crowd was changing to teen couples.
We moved our stuff up to the walkway and picked out a spot for watching fireworks. FUN! We both love fireworks and enjoyed both the planned display and the impromptu exhibits from the beach visitors.
We didn't really know how everything was planned though. We didn't know that the fireworks had been set off from the causeway, or that the causeway was closed to traffic after it was filled up with cars. We didn't know that there was no other way off the island. So...
I didn't know that my 10 minute walk back to the car would then leave me with a 80 minute 'drive' back to Joel and the beach. And then another who-knows-how-long drive back to our motel. Everyone was in a good mood, though, and all in the same boat. There may have been trouble somewhere, but we only had fun!
Sebastian Inlet is near Barefoot Bay where we lived for about a year in 2004. This map is a good place to look if you want to take a bird's eye view of the coastline.
We happened to go there on a day they were having a regional surfing contest and watched this young man teaching his two boys about the glories of surfing. too cute.
Lone Cabbage ~ Restaurant & Airboats ~ on the St. John's River
This ride was a ton o fun! Even though the river was low and our ride was only 30 minutes, we saw 3-4 times the number of gators as we did on a longer ride 4 years ago. And beautiful skies, lots of birds. The 3rd picture shows a decent shot of a Great Blue Herring as our guide consistently called the heron.
So, he's cute & funny; he doesn't have to be smart, too.
For much of the time, we explored places where we had lived. We saw a lot of the wildfire damage from this summer south of Melbourne. And there was still damage visible from the hurricanes of 04. I'm happy to say that Barefoot Bay looked pretty good. It was hit hard just a few months after we left. It is clear that a few just cleared off, left the foundation and moved on. But most were repaired or replaced and were again homey & welcoming.
Our favorite marina was partly still there. Boats are moored and a new building is under construction, but our favorite seafood restaurant was gone with the wind...
Dad & Frankie in Rockledge ~ and Birthday Girl, Alison with hubby Bob and the travelers in Vero Beach