In summer 2007, I got a bad case of beach fever.
Actually, I take that back, it’s an ongoing condition I’ve had for a long time…
But in that year, I had to do something about it. I had only been to the ocean twice– South Carolina & Mississippi. I so badly wanted to visit Florida!
First, I convinced Ryan to save up money and go with me! It was that summer we won the Dairy Queen contest, so that was helpful in bringing in $500. It would be his first trip to the beach so it wasn’t too difficult to convince him. … Definitely not as hard as it would be to get him back there. ;)
I did the rest of the planning and that took a lot of research and time! We were so lucky because I have connections to a house in Ft. Myers, my Aunt & Uncle’s friend owns a house there, but doesn’t live there. So it’s distant connections, but I mustered up enough courage to ask.. harder than it sounds. But of course, I had to make it even more difficult. Since we were going to be 4 hours away from the Keys, and I had a burning desire to see clear, blue waters for the first time, I couldn’t resist. I researched and researched where we would visit in the Keys and in which hotel we would stay. The Travel Channel was helpful in knowing which beaches to visit. I also figured out approximately how much the entire trip would cost, using the smallest budget ever. I set the date for the first weekend in August, right after my birthday and we would stay for a week and a day.
The time quickly arrived so we packed up everything we could fit into my little Eclipse and started our journey. Yes, we took my tiny car all the way to the Florida Keys and back, but it did get 30 MPG. We were (are?) crazy and that is probably something I would only do once.
We started out about 7 AM on the first day, August 5th, and drove until maybe midnight. Ok, let me specify. Ryan drove most of the whole trip, which was forever long! We were driving as far as we could make it.. and we barely made it to Florida.
We stayed in some creepy, cheap hotel for the night in Lake City, FL and continued on the next day to Ft. Myers.
But I noticed that we were really close to the ocean at some point before we got there, so I just HAD to stop for a minute. It was Ryan’s first beach ever and it was very..strange. The water was hot and shallow for a long ways out. But I didn’t care because we were in FLORIDA!
Finally we arrived in Ft. Myers. We had to go grocery shopping that night (no restaurant dining for us, only fast food during the traveling). Well except for when I used a gift card to Red Lobster on the way back, HAH.
And luckily there was a pool at the house where we went swimming that night!
The next day our first real beach destination was Lover’s Key State Park, which is located between Ft. Myers and Naples…
where Ryan illegally fed the seagulls
It started pouring down rain as it usually does in Florida, so we sat at Starbucks..
until it stopped raining and we went back to the beach to see the pretty sunset.
There were so many shells!!
Unfortunately, I started catching a bad cold that day. The rest of the trip I tried to endure it no matter how crappy I felt.
The next day we went to a mall in Ft. Myers and then headed to Sanibel Island.
We swam with dolphins… for free!
This was the day I felt the worst. We didn’t stay long and that night Ryan, being the sweetheart he is, took care of me because I felt soo bad.
The next day we drove to the Keys where we stayed two nights. We went through Miami and lots of toll roads.
Hwy 1 takes you to the Keys. It was so awesome. Once you got far enough, there was beautiful water on both sides that was so many different shades of colors. As many times as I tried, the camera in a moving car couldn’t capture its beauty.
We finally made it! This was the view behind our motel, Continental Inn, in Marathon Key. For reference, it was located 55 miles north of Key West and 110 miles south of Miami.
There just wasn’t enough time on this trip to travel, beach hop, and sleep.. especially with a cold. I felt like most of the time was spent asleep!
That night we went to Sombrero Beach, where the beach was disappointing but the sky was pretty. Yet again we had to go to Publix, to shop for food.
Finally.. it was the day I had been waiting for… off to Bahia Honda State Park!
We used Ryan’s iPhone to help us get where we needed to go.
Here’s the 7 mile bridge!
Heaven on Earth…
After we got to that beach, we decided to go buy snorkeling gear. We went back and snorkeled just close to shore. I did not want to leave. :(
Ryan forced me we had to drive back to Ft. Myers the next day…
One part of that trip back I’ll never forget… Never in my life did I have to pee so bad and there are no places to stop for a long time because of the Everglades. I seriously was so close to having Ryan pull over while it was pouring down rain and pee on the highway. I couldn’t even sit down in my seat. I barely made it to the first exit we saw.
That night we went to Ft. Myers beach. It was such an AWESOME end to our trip… on the beach we saw a rainbow, a sunset, tons and tons of sand dollars like you wouldn’t believe, some nice shells, a starfish… Magical :)
Later that night we went to Coldstone .. my first time.
Notice how short my hair was? I got it cut before we left and I’ve been growing it out since then!
The next day we had to start the trip back home… I was so dreading it. We made it to Jasper, TN and stayed in another cheap hotel. One thing is for sure, traveling for 20+ hours makes you slap happy.
No, this was not a trip for us to run away and get married or a “pre-honeymoon.” Some people were giving us a hard time about that. You can call it my senior trip since I had just graduated! But I remember on that last day we were traveling, August 13th, my friend Jennifer called me.. we were stopped at a Hardee’s in KY to eat… and she told me her boyfriend Chaz proposed!
I was so sad to leave the beautiful state of Florida and return to reality in the midwest. Two years later I still haven’t returned… yet.