Monday, August 10, 2015

Vacation Part 3 (Ocala)

Last year the girls had started noticing earrings, specifically mine and their cousin Lainey's. Meme asked them if they wanted their ears pierced last summer but they both said no. This year they broached the topic and asked if they could do it so I said yes. I figured they would either back out or forget about it but neither happened so we set up a time and off we all went (Drake, Lainey, Meme, Papa, Len, me and the girls). Kate said she wanted to go first and Lucy (in a very uncharacteristic turn) agree readily to that plan. 

Kate picked out a lovey to hold (thank you again Meme for the gifts) and remained stoic throughout the entire process.

A very tiny hint of a tear formed as soon as the deed was done but was quickly banished after she saw her earrings in a mirror.
She chose her birthstone, a garnet.
Next up was Lucy.

She chose sparkly balls!
Len pulled over a chair from the mall seating area so Papa could wait in comfort and watch the rite of passage. He also turned out to be the keeper of Drake's tiger.
Meme bought her granddaughters another set of earrings for later.
Kate chose silver dolphins and Lucy chose pearls.
So happy with their new earrings!
Next up was bungee jumping. They both finally learned to do a flip this year.

We spent a good many days over at Aunt Sherry's house playing in the pool with cousins.
The mermaid fins were popular.
But required some assistance getting into the pool, seeing as mermaids can't walk and all.

They had this pretty cool motorized machine that would take them around the pool quite fast. Both girls were motoring around and around and down to the bottom and up.
Lainey has some mad balancing skills.

 The cousins had gotten new cars from last year's set so they set to work learning to drive.

We met up for lunch with their older cousins, Danielle and April.

Aunt Renee checking out the photo.
The girls taught Danielle the death stare.
Another day at the pool. Meme tossed dive sticks into the deep end for everyone.
Playing fetch with kids is pretty much the same as playing it with dogs...
Impromptu jam session...Frozen's "Let it Go" is still the song of choice among the littles.
Later than night we all went out for pizza. Aunt Sherry taught the girls a new hand clapping game.

Our last full day in Ocala we decided to spend at Rainbow Springs. It was rainy pretty much most of the day but a rainy vacation day still beats a sunny day at home/work so off we went with a picnic lunch. We found a picnic table under a covered pavilion and enjoyed this view while we ate.

Rainbow Springs used to be a huge tourist attraction before Disney opened and lured people away. During its heyday, it boasted man-made waterfalls, glass bottomed sub-boats which allowed you to view the springs from below the waterline, a monorail that allowed a tree-level view of the park, a zoo and a rodeo.  All that remains now are the waterfalls.

The water is naturally 72 degrees year-round which made for a chilly descent into the water. Since the swimming area was 5 feet deep at its shallowest we needed noodles to rest on after diving under to watch the fish and explore the bottom.

Did I mention it was raining for a good part of the trip?

Our adventures continued the next morning as we set off for Daytona Beach. We made two stops along Hwy 40: one for whoopie pies at famous Sweet Janes and another for boiled peanuts at Jimbo's Nut Shack. 
In addition to the whoopie pies, the girls picked out two candies for the road. Lucy chose an enormous jelly alligator and a nougat caramel. Kate chose Lifesavers and Zots and I picked up a roll of Necco wafers for my mom. Since Len and I never drink soda anymore, we decided to splurge on old favorites, Frostie root beer and grape Nehi.
Nummy! They were so big that no one actually finished their whoopie pie on the first try.
As we stopped for boiled peanuts I spotted this car heading towards us and asked her if I could take a picture. I mean, you don't see this everyday do you?
We loaded up: 2 bags of regular boiled and 1 bag of Cajun style. The girls were in heaven--they LOVE boiled peanuts.
The long ride through the Ocala National Forest worked its magic and Len and I enjoyed a rare hour+ of quiet time.
More pictures of our Daytona Beach portion for another post!

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