When I was a kid, my dad would often go to Florida for the winter. We would rent a small house and get seasonal jobs from October till May. It was great! I have some of my best childhood memories in that warm and steamy southern state. Yes, it gets hot. Yes, it gets humid. But I loved it!
Still do, for that matter.
My favorite vacation photo! My 4 kids on Siesta Key.
I enjoy the warmth, the swaying palm trees, the warm rain, and the raucous screaming of seagulls. I love walking around St. Armand’s Circle in the evening, or strolling along the docks at Marina Jacks. A picnic on South Lido Beach in the evening is delightful…salty sea breezes gently brushing your face.
My son was intrigued with this broken seashell.
- What a beautiful beach! Seagulls and waves…
And then there is Pinecraft. Anyone who has been there knows what I am talking about! A small community of mostly Amish and Mennonite people. Mostly older people, who come south every winter for the climate. And then the young crowd (Breaking Amish, anyone?!) that comes down and ‘sows their wild oats’, away from the eyes of their parents, friends and preachers. Pinecraft has it’s own flavor – an odd assortment of religion, homeless people, and tourists. The streets are filled during winter with people walking, biking or driving golf carts.
My parents’ house in Pinecraft. ~Photo credit to Rose Miller~
My Amish grandparents bought a home there in the late 1960’s. My parents helped them move down in ’68. The streets were still sand, back then. They (my grandparents) lived there till my grandpa died, (I am not sure of the year) and then my grandma lived there till her last few years. She died at age 99 in 2005.
My kids were out on this street with their bikes every. single. day.
My dad and Lucia.
Some people who have spent time in Pinecraft, or have relatives there – stay far away from it… don’t like the reputation, or the connections – I’m not sure what. I lived there many winters, and I still like it! 😉 The Amish neither intimidate nor impress me. I am not Amish or Mennonite, but I have many good memories there, and besides that – the streets are PERFECT for kids to bike on! Or for anyone, actually. When I took my kids there earlier this month, they spent a good part of every day just biking. They have a lot of these cool 3-wheeled bikes, and they are fun to ride! My 5 year old enjoyed it tremendously. We could hardly pry her away from her bike! My parents continue to spend their winters in Pinecraft, and my dad fixes up old bikes to sell or rent. So he had plenty on hand for us to pick from!
Enjoying Myakka State Park on a chilly day!
We drove out to Myakka State Park one day to see alligators… but it was cold and windy (for FL) and we didn’t see one gator!! In all my years of going to Myakka – I have never been there and not seen a gator. But this year… THIS year, when I had my kids along – nope! Not a one! The main wildlife we saw was vultures. Ugly old birds, they are!
We took in the Famous Lipizzaner Stallions – the show isn’t as good as it was when the Mr. Hermann was running it, but I think it will revive in time.
We spent a morning at Jungle Gardens – always a favorite! The reptile show, the jungle vegetation… but especially the Bird show was extremely popular with my kids! It was the only attraction we took in that cost money. But well worth it! Those birds are hilarious! And so smart.
We went to various beaches, the kids built sandcastles (of course!) and the last evening we had a picnic at South Lido – just like we did so many times when I was a kid. It was fun.
I sure enjoyed my short visit… I thought maybe the reality of Florida – after being gone 14 years – would make me realize I liked it less….
I was wrong.
I like it more! 😀 I think living at the North Pole (aka: Wyoming) for a number of years has given me an even greater love for all places warm! 😉 Hopefully I can visit my favorite childhood home again, someday. And I’m hoping I don’t have to wait another 14 years! 😀
So where is your favorite vacation spot? Do you prefer cold or warm?