Monday, August 8, 2011

Vacation to Florida

We're back from our trip to Florida, and we're exhausted!  We had an awesome time, though, and the scenery was breathtaking.  Here's a recap:

Since we were bringing Kim and Mik along with us, we tried to find cheap airline tickets.  Hence, we flew Spirit Airlines.  Well, I guess you get what you pay for!  They nickel and dime the hell out of you to try and keep the fares low.  Each checked bag costs $28 IF you pay for it online ahead of time.  If not, it's $38/bag.  The kicker is that their weight limit is 40lbs, which differs from the 50lb limit we were used to.  The two bags for our group of 4 were both over 40 lbs, so we had to rearrange stuff to just make one of them overweight (you only get to bring on a personal item for free, not a carry-on, so we couldn't use that outlet for help with the weight redistribution).  That cost us another $25.  Overall, we paid $81 EACH WAY for our bags.  Wow!  Wanna know the best part?  They failed to put Kim and Mik's bag on the flight for some unknown reason.  WTH?  We landed at 9:30pm, and were the last flight in for the day, so they told us they'd put it on the early flight the next morning.  Since they didn't have toiletries or clothes or anything for that first night and next morning, we had to find the closest store that was open 24 hours.  That happened to be a Walmart.  We had to drive ten miles to get there, but it might as well have been 800 miles because it felt like we stepped into Haiti.  Quite an experience! Anyway, Spirit said they'd have it delivered to our hotel shortly after the flight arrived at 9:30am the next morning.  By the time noon rolled around, and we hadn't even been called to alert us to an impending delivery, we just decided to drive back to the airport ourselves and pick it up.  Sure enough, it was just sitting in the baggage office.  Thanks, Spirit, for the awesome baggage service!  That was kind of a bummer that it put a damper on our first few hours in Fort Lauderdale, but we shrugged it off and made the best of our remaining time.

We stayed in a 2-room oceanfront suite at the Pelican Grand Beach Resort.  I have to say we were really impressed with the hotel.  The location on the beach was unbeatable.  A lot of the hotels in Fort Lauderdale are across the street from the beach, so you're stuck walking across and looking for room on the public beach.  Our hotel had a private beach that was literally a few steps from the water.  The view from our balcony was awesome in every direction.  The hotel also had a great pool and lazy river.  We ate some of our meals on the back balcony of the hotel and it felt like we were in a magazine.  Just take a look for yourself:

   The view below our balcony

Truly beachfront

I had to pinch myself to make sure it was real

We traveled into Miami and South Beach a couple of times, but honestly Fort Lauderdale was more our style.  We did check out the shops and restaurants and spent a little while on the beach there, though.  

  South Beach

Couldn't resist reppin' the Mavs in Miami!

 Had to grab some Cold Stone!

Dinner at PF Chang's in Downtown Miami

When we weren't relaxing on the beautiful beach outside our hotel, we checked out Ocean Avenue, did some shopping at Dolphin Mall, and visited McCarthy Wildlife Sanctuary in West Palm Beach.  If you're in the area, I highly recommend giving that last place a visit!  It's $20/person for a guided tour through their facility.  It was totally worth it.  We got to get really close to their amazing animals, and learn a lot of really neat background info and facts about them.  Our guide interacted with the animals, and even let us in some instances.  It was awesome!  

 Me holding a Kinkajou.  I wanted to take it home!

Mik with the Kinkajou.

Jer holding a 12 ft. albino python

Kim and the python

Everyone got a turn with the tarantula

After all of our adventures, we ended the trip with an unforgettable dinner at Chima Brazilian Steakhouse in honor of Kim's birthday.  It was a great trip!

 Happy 19th birthday!

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