Missing the Sun {Southwest Florida Trip – Part 2}

I’ve been home from Florida for just over two weeks, but I’ve been really missing it the last few days. Mainly just being with my whole family together (and now needing a winter coat!). Maybe it’s pregnancy hormones, but it’s hard not to miss them. (Part 1 from last week)

One of the activities that we’d all talked about leading up to the trip was kayaking. We have kayaks back home in Canada, but it’s always fun to do it in Florida and see all the wildlife. We took a trip out to Pine Island to rent kayaks from Carmen’s Kayaks in Matlacha. She was awesome – giving us a map of the area and recommending a route. I would love to go back and do one of her guided tours as well. We kayaked along a really shallow bay and saw all kinds of birds, fish, conch, blue crabs – and even a dolphin up close!! Afterwards we popped into some of the beautiful artist studios in Matlacha (loved this one and this one. so much colour!), followed by lunch along the water. It’s definitely worth the trip out there to look around.

We also spent some time out on the water in my dad’s boat. It’s the best way to get around and see all the cool canals and waterways.

 Shadow is always on the lookout for dolphins in the canals.

She loves being able to go around and around the walkway of the boat.

Some of our best cruises along the water were at sunset, when you can see the cotton candy sky.

If was fun to catch all the houses lit up for the holidays too. It still blows my mind when I see Christmas lights on palm trees.

…or on boats! Complete with a Santa and reindeer.

We tried to go in the pool every night while the water was so warm (over 92°F!) but one night my sister and I tried to chicken out and look at new throw pillows online for her apartment. It wasn’t long before our mom and brother FaceTimed us from the pool…about 10 feet away. We both cracked up and changed into our swimsuits.

For New Years Eve, we headed down to Cape Coral Harbour. The docks were lined up with boats covered in holiday lights.

All the shops and restaurants were open in the courtyard, with a big bar and a great live band. The place was packed!

At midnight, they lowered the big New Years ball over the crowd and then the real show started…

I’ve never seen fireworks like I did that night. It was 10 minutes straight of amazing explosions out over the marina. It was incredible!

After New Years, the amazing weather we’d been experiencing the first week turned chilly, which meant more time hanging out inside together. We had a few nights of epic games of Settlers of Catan – love that game!

We also made a few shopping trips to some outdoor malls. I love that you can walk around outside…and that they have handy “shuttle” golf carts to drive you around. It was a bit like Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride at Disney, but totally worth it to lug all our shopping back to the car (including some new goodies for baby girl‘s nursery!)

But what really kept us captivated those last few days was this 2000 piece puzzle from my cousins. With all those bright colours, it was torture finding the pieces. We spread it out on the massive kitchen island and everyone worked away at it. Even the neighbours came over to help one night.

My mom kept threatening to cancel our flights home until it was finished, but we got it done within three days. Phew! Now it’s been packaged up and is being sent to my cousins to see if they can do better. Ha!

The last day we were there, the sun came out to give us one more day on the beach. It was beautiful out, with a nice cool breeze coming off the gulf. We even spotted a few dolphins playing close to the shore!

There was also this huge blue pelican on the fishing pier that was taking advantage of fisherman who weren’t watching their bait buckets.

While my dad and brother fished on the pier, us ladies hit the beach for a final afternoon of sun…and magazines! I loved reading all the great ideas for starting the new year off right. Lots of motivation for when I got home.

I even convinced my brother to take my 20 week baby bump pictures on the beach. I’m sure it’s what every university student wants to do on vacation, but he did a really good job!

Especially when he got me laughing really hard. Isn’t that what little brothers are for?

On the morning of our flight home, I whipped up a batch of beignets using Cafe du Monde mix I found at World Market. I got the chance to try the real thing while we were in New Orleans on our Honeymoon Roadtrip two years ago, and I was excited to share it with my family.

While they didn’t turn our nearly as puffy and perfect as the ones from our trip, they were still so delicious…especially covered in icing sugar.

My great aunt and I flew back together and it was quite the adventure. Between setting off the security alarms with her knee replacement (we both forgot about it!), breaking a suitcase wheel and missing our trolley to baggage – we were quite the pair. This was the picture we sent to my mom once we got to our gate to let her know that despite all the mishaps, we were safe and happy together. We had some good laughs about it though and have added it to the list of funny adventures we’ve had together.

I’m already daydreaming about being able to go back again next year with the baby when I’m on maternity leave!

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