Markel Family Summer Vacation–Day Five

Last Saturday we sadly said goodbye to Orlando at 4:30 a.m., and began the long drive home (actually, the long drive to Ryan’s parents’ house, because driving all the way home from Orlando in one day would have been a disaster!). We did have a few stops planned along the way, though. We started by driving up the Space Coast. In some ways, it was like time had frozen there since the 1960s. We passed by so many cute motels that were just like I had imagined from the days of the space race. And they all had great vintage road signs…but it was too dark to get good pictures of them!

Anyway, the sun did come up eventually…just in time for us to drive through Daytona Beach, which was where we supposed to say in the first place, and see the sun rise over the ocean:

We drove a little farther up the coast, and stopped to stretch our legs at St. Augustine Beach. We weren’t there for long, but we got to take a nice walk, collect seashells, and dip our toes in the water. It was so exciting to see the Atlantic Ocean again!

We then drove into St. Augustine (the oldest continuously occupied European settlement in the United States), right over the Bridge of Lions:

And stopped to take a walk around Castillo de San Marcos, which is the oldest masonry fort in the continental United States.

We then turned toward Jacksonville, where we stopped at the Wawa again…I have to admit, for a gas station, they make great sandwiches!

After driving through a different part of the state than on our way in, and looking for both bears and alligators (and not seeing either), we said goodbye to Florida:

And made the interminable drive back across Georgia. Even I was happy to finally see Tennessee, even if it did mean going back through the Smoky Mountains:

And so our second Markel Family summer vacation came to an end. I’ll be taking a closer look at the fun places we visited in the coming days, though, so the vacation fun isn’t over yet!

Markel Family Summer Vacation–Day One

It’s been three years since our first real family summer vacation, so we were all very excited when things worked out for us to go on another road trip this year, this time to Florida. Actually, I was a little worried that the trip wouldn’t happen, because things fell apart Father’s Day weekend. We salvaged it, though, and even though it ended up being a slightly different trip than we were planning on taking, and we didn’t get to do everything we had originally planned, it ended being a far superior vacation than I had imagined!

We left very early in the morning from Bowling Green, KY,  a week ago to make the drive to Orlando. I was kind of dreading the drive, partly because of how long I knew it would be, but mostly because the Smoky Mountains were an inevitable part of the trip, and we did not have a good experience driving through them three years ago. Everything was fine, though, and even I had to admit it was a pretty drive!

After the mountains, we had to drive through Georgia for what seemed like an eternity. Did you know that Georgia is an incredibly boring state to drive through? Except for Atlanta, which is not boring, but does make me rage-y, because the traffic is always terrible! We were all unbelievably happy to see the “Florida Welcomes You” sign, even though we still had a few hours left in the car before reaching our destination!

Before we arrived at the hotel, we stopped at a Publix grocery store to pick up a few supplies. I love checking out new grocery chains when we travel, and Publix did not disappoint…it might be my new favorite grocery store, and I wish we had one closer to home!

We did finally arrive at the hotel, the Cabana Bay Beach Resort on Universal property, what seemed like several days later, and I’m not going to lie…I cried when I walked into the lobby for the first time. It was just like I dreamed it. The resort has a 50s/60s theme, and it was perfect for me. There was nothing I didn’t love about it!

We had just enough energy left for a swim and a walk around the pools after our very long day:

But then it was time for bed, because we had big plans for the following day!