Category Archives: Trips

Family Vacation to Florida: Day 4

June 4th, 2010

Now it’s Friday and again, we slept in before getting a late start out.  I had a hard time deciding what we would do this day but eventually decided on the Florida Aquarium.  Despite the high admission price it was well worth it.  In addition to the aquarium exhibits, they had an outside water play area that the kids played in.

The Aquarium offers scuba lessons which they call “Swimming with the Fishes” – that was interesting to watch b/c they have a tank where you can look at people learning to scuba.

Here is the “No Bone Zone” where you can touch some of the specimens.

Then, the kids went to the water play area for awhile to cool off.

Now, Kaleya was playing with the water squirt machines spraying other kids. I predicted that if she got sprayed she would not like it. Sure enough, she got sprayed and I hear her over there crying so went to see what was wrong. After she calmed down though she went right back over to get in the mix again.

After the aquarium we then headed to Honeymoon Island Beach. I wanted to go to a beach that was not filled with tourists and Honeymoon Island certainly was not. The shore was rocky, but overall the kids enjoyed it – they actively searched and found many seashells and began a small collection.

And that was the end to another great day.

Family Vacation to Florida: Day 3

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Day 3 of the vacation started off as leisurely as Day 2.   After sleeping in, the kids’ daily walk around the lake with my stepfather, my solo trip to a nearby cemetery for some genealogy work, and lunch, we went down to St. Petersburg to visit the Science Center of Pinellas.  I figured I couldn’t subject the kids to more “history” stuff so a Science Center seemed like a good idea.

The Science Center is an older establishment, having been founded in 1959, but they had some interesting things to see.  It was actually the first science education center in the United States. We began in their marine room where they had a tank with a few specimens of marine life.

One of the more interesting things in the tank was a horseshoe crab, I’m not sure I’d ever seen one before.

They also had owls.

They had a cabinet with skeletons in it, so of course we had to open it

One of the lovely treasures inside was a skeleton of the horseshoe crab!

and check out the Snowflake Moray Eel

Following the marine room we toured the rest of the inside of the center and saw alligators, a scorpion, a gecko, the wingspan of an albatross (did you know it was almost 15 feet?) and more. We even saw a tarantula and the shed exoskeleton of a tarantula.

Outside of the center they had a wetlands area, a Native American village replica (which had been recently burned down by vandals), and a sidewalk tile exhibit that represented the United States and the years each state entered the union. The boys particularly enjoyed the wetlands; they saw a snake, several lizards, a big spider and a big cricket. yucky.

Of course Kelli had to stand next to her Florida.

After the Science Center we tried to go back home, but Kelli got turned around and we ended up in Tampa. So, we went to the International Plaza so she could visit a particular store. At the mall we waited for her at the children’s play area – it was themed like a Looney Tunes baseball field.

One of the ladies next to me @ the play area started talking to me and she ended up forwarding me a text ad from Bath & Body Works to get $10 in free merchandise w/ a purchase of $10 dollars or more. That resulted in me spending $35 dollars there, but I got $40 worth of free stuff. Can’t beat that! The boys even got a new shower gel, the Oak scent from their mens collection.  That was a great social marketing ploy if I can say so myself.   I am a little disappointed that their Twitter account has not been updated since April 8th.

And finally, more swimming this night.  We’d picked up an inner tube for Kaleya, so she had a great time being a bit more adventurous in the water.

Family Vacation to Florida: Day 1 & 2

Over the past week, we’ve been vacationing in Florida having a grand time! Kalonji had to work so it was me, my sister, and the kids. We went to go visit my mother in the Tampa Bay area.

Day 1:  Tuesday, June 1

To drive from Nashville to my mother is a 12-hour drive, so pretty much the whole day was spent in the car. Lots of conversation, snacks and bathroom stops characterized our day.

We arrived at my mom’s home at about 10pm.  However, we did stop at the University of Florida where Kelli did her undergrad so she could have a nostalgic drive-through of the campus.  One of the things that was interesting was a wall of graffiti they have and allow the students to paint.

We arrived at my mom’s house at about 10pm.  So, after some catching up chit-chat, it was off to bed we go.

Day 2: June 3, 2010

Sleeping in of course — we didn’t head out for the day until around noon.  My stepfather Ron does not go to work until later in the day, so each morning during our vacation he took the kids to accompany him on his daily walk around a nearby lake.  Miles took the following picture on their first day out.

After freshening up, we went to Heritage Village, a nearby living history museum where they have multiple historic buildings and they demonstrate how life was lived back “in the day.”  There were 28 buildings on the site, but we arrived late so several were closed off and we saw about half of them.  What we did see was very interesting though. One of the buildings on campus was the Union Academy, a hand-me down school for black children. It was active around 1915 and the building used to be in Tarpon Springs, Florida and was one of the first “negro” schools in the county.

After Heritage Village we headed down to the St. Petersburg Pier, a local spot for viewing the water and a beautiful view of downtown St. Petersburg, Clearwater, & Tampa.  At the top of the pier the kids looked through the binoculars to look at the view.

Even Kaleya got in on the fun

On our way out, the kids fed dead fish to the outside pelicans.

When we were leaving the Pier, we passed an interesting looking tree, a Kapok tree, so we got out to let the kids climb it.

Then it was time to call it a day so we headed back to my mother’s house for the evening.  Now, the great thing about Florida is that the pools in her complex are open year-round, so at about 9pm we went swimming and of course the kids loved that!

Visiting Birmingham

To continue the posts about our family vacation August 1-7th, 2009…..

On Tuesday of that week, we decided to take the kids over to Birmingham.  Birmingham is only about an hour away from Talladega, so it’s a perfect day trip.

Leaving at about 9 in the morning, we headed over to the Civil Rights Institute.   The purpose for our visit was to see this museum and to see the 16th Street Avenue church where the bombing took place in 1963 and killed 4 young girls – Addie Mae Collins, Denise McNair, Carole Robertson, & Cynthia Wesley.  Many others were injured that day, and within a few hours of the bombing, two young boys were also killed during the riots.

Both the Institute & the 16th Street Church are situated on the edges of Kelly Ingram Park.  Throughout 1963, the park was the locale of organized civil rights protests & boycotts  by Rev. Martin Luther King and Fred Shuttlesworth. After touring the Institute & the Church, we then toured the park, so I’ll come back to that.

The Civil Rights Institute

The Civil Rights Institute was extremely nice and very well put-together.  It has been around since 1992.  When you begin the tour, they show a short movie and then the movie screen lifts up and you are able to enter the museum.  As we went through the exhibits, I learned quite a bit about the history of the civil rights activities in the city and we made sure the kids all understood the significance as well.  I think my favorite part of the exhibit was the near the beginning where they have setups of what a typical black classroom would have looked like compared to what a typical white classroom looked like.  Very striking.

After the main exhibits, we also toured another exhibit they have called Freedom’s Sisters.  This exhibit covers information on 20 women involved in civil rights activities. There were a couple of hands-on activities that I thought created a nice touch — namely, they had one page sheets for each woman that you would collect and put into a folder to create your own “book.”  Then, they had a photo kiosk where you could take a picture and create your own profile sheet to add to your book. Very nice touch. Afterwards, the kids took the requisite group pic.

16th Street Church
Across the street from the Civil Rights Institute is the 16th Street Church, the location of the bombing in 1963 that killed the four girls mentioned above.  We were able to walk around the church and there was a guide that provided some details and history of what happened there.  The room that the girls were in was a dressing room of sorts back then, and it is now a kitchen.  Other than a marker outside the church where the bomb was located, there did not seem to be any internal indications of what transpired there.  The church converted the space into a kitchen and still uses it today.  Group pic of the kids in front of that area:

and, outside the church

Kelly Ingram Park
As we left the church, we then next explored Kelly Ingram Park which is just outside both locations.  The park had several statues/reliefs set up to help capture the events of a significant protest that occured there involving mostly children.  I was particularly struck by this one that was done in two parts to represent children being  jailed.  The words along the bottom that you can’t see in this angle say “I ain’t afraid of your jail.”

After touring around the park, we then left and headed back to Talladega.  When we got back, we let the kids swim for awhile in the hotel pool and then we went on another home excursion. More details to come soon over on the genealogy blog!

Family Vacation Day 2

In the last post, I talked about the beginning of our family vacation where we went to Evansville, Indiana to pick up my oldest two stepsons.  Day 2 was spent on the road.

Our vacation destination was Talladega, Alabama, home of my father-in-law and his family.  My youngest stepson lives in Atlanta, so we had to pick him up.  So, on Sunday Jul 31, we drove through 5 states in one day! 

One of the highlights along the way was Jihad’s consumption of dried venison.  He’d been asking for beef jerky all week, so Kalonji bought him some smoked venison and smoked elk to see if he would eat it.

And, eat it he did!

it was a sight to see. 🙂

The drive through Tennessee was of course beautiful as always when we approached the Chattanooga area. I always enjoy seeing the mountainside.

We arrived in Talladega around 10pm that night and I was very glad to hit the pillows. Road trips are tiring.