St. Petersburg, FL

When we took Nik to the airport on December 20th, we thought we had a night to clean up, decorate for Christmas, shop for food, and prep for my mom and Jesse’s visit.  Then I got a text from Jess saying “see you soon” and I replied, “yes, see you tomorrow”.  Her response was, “no, tonight!”  We hung out near the airport for a few hours, getting a few supplies, and picked the ladies up at TPA later that evening.  We took them to their condo in Tierra Verde (near our campsite in Fort de Soto) and spent some time catching up.  We were so glad they were willing to visit us in Florida for the holiday, but they didn’t put up too much of a fight when we asked them to leave Chicago for a week in December.  We spent time exploring downtown St. Petersburg, Clearwater Beach, Fort de Soto Park, and the surrounding beach areas.

On the day before Christmas, my mom and I went to the Dali museum while Jess and Johan saw Downsizing.  (Two thumbs up on the museum, which was absolutely wonderful.  One thumb up on the movie from Jess, who loved Ngoc Lan Tran, one thumb down from Johan who thought it was “weird”.) . We decorated the campsite and grilled outside one night, took kayak rides, introduced my mom to the e-bike, and relaxed outside in the great weather.  We collectively pressured Jess to “try new things” this trip, and she did a great job.  Throughout the week she ate octopus, tuna, branzino, and a poke bowl, allowed Johan to take her on a kayak ride, and sat still in a face mask for 30 minutes.  We’re so proud of her!  We saw beautiful sand sculptures at Treasure Island Beach and really enjoyed a beautiful week spending time together.  2017 was a wonderful Christmas!

Clearwater Beach, FL

In mid-December, we left the panhandle and relocated to Clearwater Beach.  This was the end of Nik’s first semester of school, so he left cold Bath, England and arrived in Tampa at 2am welcoming the balmy weather despite a bit of jet lag, several delayed flights, and over 24 hours of travel since leaving his dorm at BSU.  We were so excited to see him!  We spent the day after he arrived, (my birthday), strolling the white sand beaches in Clearwater and enjoying the sun.  We ate at a great local steak place for dinner – a perfect birthday.  The boys went skydiving in Zephyrhills the next day, a graduation gift that wasn’t able to be executed over the summer, but luckily so.  Turns out Skydive City at Z-Hills is one of the best places in the nation to dive!  As the photographer of this event, I was glad to have them both back on the ground.  The whole parachute-opening thing didn’t worry me as much as the plane that took them up 13,000 feet and looked like a mess of metal welded by someone who doesn’t know how to weld.  They both loved it and can’t wait to go again.

We relocated while Nik was visiting just two hours south to Fort de Soto State Park, where the boys got to kayak, ride bikes, and spend a little time relaxing by the water.  We also checked out the beach cities along the coast from Clearwater to St. Pete Beach, eating and drinking and enjoying the sun along the way.  We were sad to see him go but know he was looking forward to seeing his mom and friends back in Cali.  We’ll visit him in D.C. when we head up the east coast.  He said it wouldn’t embarrass him if we drove up to his dorm in Clyde and honked the horn a few times.