Tuesday, April 28, 2009


With spring break’s arrival I decided we would go and visit my mother in Florida. It actually makes more sense for me to take time off of work to do this than to pay the high cost of day care for Lily in addition to Meika’s, for some reason it is ridiculously expensive to do “out of season” daycare, I guess they know they’ve got you where they want you; desperate and in dire need, so they can charge whatever they wish. But the availability and affordability of quality daycare in this country is a whole other subject and I was rambling on about vacation. So…

After the many hours spent packing (for some reason we needed more “stuff” to go to Florida for a week than we did to go to China for a month), we set off at 3am on Saturday morning, and being that I now have a vehicle that I am not terrified to travel more than ten miles in, it made for a much more pleasant driving experience. I choose to leave in the middle of the night because it seems to work well with small children, they still have several hours of sleep ahead of them and it is still dark with nothing to interfere with them falling quickly back to sleep, giving me several blessed hours of quiet in which to drive. Plus, the traffic is quite light in those wee hours before dawn. And I need that silence, it is thirteen hours of actual drive time to arrive at where my mother lives in central Florida, plus all the stopping that must be done in order to use the restroom, eat, stretch and just maintain sanity. Once I pass South of the Border I know that I am nearly halfway there and that past this point there will not be another Starbucks for 400 miles, so get it now sweetheart because Mama needs that liquid fuel just like the van needs petrol.

We had no particular plans other than to just hang out, my mom has a pool, which Lily would spend all waking hours in if allowed, and anything that I got to do that didn’t involve going to work or our usual routine is a vacation to me. I hadn’t been able to sit down and read even one magazine since adopting Meika last September, so I had brought along a huge pile of unread material to try and get through…I succeeded in whittling down the pile by one, oh well, it was far more relaxing just to sit at pool side while Lily swam and watch the sun go down.

The Easter Bunny arrived a little bit late, guess he slept in (or due to driving so long forgot what day it was), fortunately, he was actually prepared, just delayed in his delivery. Then, another set of Easter Bunnies hid eggs and more baskets in the front yard and several other children and grandchildren of friends showed up and we had an egg hunt! What fun! It didn’t take Meika long to grasp the concept and hunt down her quarry. Lily of course was a blur as she raced around the yard searching for her eggs. That Easter Bunny was so cleaver that he marked all the eggs so that the kids only gathered their own.

Then a couple of days later the Grandmas and Mamas and girls of these families all went to have a tea party at the local tea house, which was quite lovely. For the most part, manners were well observed.

On another day we went to Weeki Wachee Springs State Park where there are mermaids! The Seminole Indians named the spring, which means “little spring” or “winding river”. The bottom has never been found because it is so deep and each day 117 million gallons of fresh, 72-degree water bubbles up from the subterranean caverns. It is in the basin of the spring, lined naturally with limestone, that the mermaids swim 20 feet below the surface. A theater that sits sixteen feet below the surface of the spring allows visitors to watch the show in a dry environment. Opened in 1947 by Newton Perry as a roadside attraction, he found the spring filled with old rusted refrigerators and cars. He had it cleaned out and being a former Navy SEAL, Perry experimented with underwater breathing hoses which supplied oxygen from an air compressor rather than an air tank strapped to the back of the diver, making the feat more dramatic and theatrical. He then scouted pretty girls and taught them to use the air hoses and smile at the same time as well as to eat and drink while underwater and perform aquatic ballets.

We saw two shows, one was “The Little Mermaid” and the other was a demonstration from the Mermaids of their abilities. Lily spent most of the shows mumbling to herself and trying to decide if they were real mermaids or not. She could see the breathing hoses, but still….I suggested that perhaps they were half human and half mermaid because no ordinary person could hold their breath for that long. And indeed, one mermaid held her breath for almost 3 full minutes in order to swim down to the deepest part of the basin, it was quite a feat and very impressive!

After the show we had a chance to take a picture with one of the mermaids, but Meika decided that she was still not comfortable being handed off to a total stranger, even if she was a mermaid! It wasn’t just children having their likeness taken either, the park offers a photo service; they will take your picture with a mermaid and having her autograph it. There were several older adult women having this done. Huh. What exactly do these women do with this photo once home? Is it placed front and center on the mantal? And what can one say about it once framed, ‘Take a gander at this picture Mabel, me and a busty mermaid! Honey, it was the highlight of my trip!’ Okay, to each her own.

Following are some more photos of the day; that’s my mom in the shell with the girls. Lily has got the mermaid pose down just right. And that’s Maggie, my mom’s fiancé Dennis’ dog, she and Lily are real pals.

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