Monday, March 5, 2012

Our Spring Break Trip to Jacksonville, Florida

Our trip began on Saturday, Feb. 25th with a drive down to the University of Findlay in Ohio for the GLIAC Indoor Track and Field Championships. We left the meet later than expected and then drove down to Charleston, WV. for the night. The next morning our bus was covered with salt, and at one of the gas fill-ups Autumn helped to clean the windows.

On Sunday, Feb. 26th, we stopped at the National Whitewater Center in Charlotte, NC. so the athletes could go for a long run on the trails. There were amazing high ropes courses and zip lines there, and since we had 2 hours to kill, Autumn decided to be brave and go on a few of the courses.

This is the rope climb up to the zip line. It was much higher than the picture looks, and this is probably the scariest thing Autumn did, because during the climb she wasn't hooked into a safety line.

Way to go Autumn! You made it to the top!

Autumn coming down the zip line.

"That was fun!"

Right before Autumn stepped out onto the course there was a younger girl who had a crying breakdown in the middle. She froze and wouldn't move. She literally clung to her spot on the course for ten minutes and wailed! Finally a worker came and helped her navigate the rest of the course, but she continued to emit horrific shrieks of terror.....Not a great confidence booster to say the least. But, once Autumn stepped out on the rope I could tell she was O.K. Probably because her Uncle Craig is a high ropes course instructor. It must be in the genes.

Alaina had fun playing with the pine needles and pine cones while she watched Autumn. She didn't meet the height/weight requirements to go on the course.

Autumn said this was the scariest part of the course because there was nothing to grab onto.

In two more weeks this would have been filled with "whitewater."

Autumn on the rock climbing wall.
This was a "free fall" jump.

Giant zip lines called "Canyon Crossing." There was a strong wind that day, and people that were lightweight were getting stuck before they made it to the end, so Autumn didn't get to go on this one. I guess we have a reason to go back someday. There were lots of people mountain biking. It would be a great place to spend a few days.

Then, it was back onto the bus. I did an awful job of packing activities for the girls to keep busy on the ride, so it was nice to have so many wonderful college kids to help keep them busy. There were games of "Alphabet Signs," "Dots," "Tic-Tac-Toe," "Pass the Drawing," etc.

We went to the Jacksonville Zoo on one of our days in Florida because it was cooler and overcast. It was a great reason to get out and be active since it was too cool for the beach and pool. Here Autumn is feeding some lettuce to the giraffes.

Alaina thought the giraffes were really neat!

The girls couldn't get enough of these elephant statues. They were hanging all over them. were we :)

There were lots of animals we had never seen at any other zoo gorillas.

Some of the birds let the girls walk right up to them

A ride on the carousel was a MUST.

The trees there were just beginning to flower.

The whole gang at the end of a long day at the zoo.

Autumn and Alaina were curious about what this man was using for bait to fish with off the pier. He was showing them shrimp and squid and all sorts of goodies.

This was the longest pier we had ever walked on.

The girls found a jellyfish washed up on the beach.

Everyone wanted their picture with the jellyfish.

This day was gorgeous. The sun came out at 7a.m. and stayed out all day. The temps went up to 85! We went out for a long walk in the morning and since it was so early we didn't put on suntan lotion or a little to much sun this day.

Forever hunting for the perfect shells

The girls from the team sunbathing. This picture was taken from our balcony on the seventh floor.

Autumn had fun throwing seashells into the pool and then racing to pick them all back up again. Free pool toys!

Autumn and Steve getting hit by one of the 4 waterfalls that went around the pool. The water temperature in the pool had to be in the 80's! We were in LOVE with this pool. We just couldn't believe that an outdoor pool could be so warm.

Little Mermaids

Autumn heading back out into the waves. They were really strong while we were there, and there were lots of surfers.

These signs were posted everywhere at one of the parks we visited for a long run. We actually saw a raccoon just wandering around in the middle of the road. Don't worry....we didn't feed it.

The kids on the team jumping for me.

This is on our last day at the hotel in Florida. Alaina took off her floaty, and after much coaxing from Autumn she swam all by herself all the way from one side of the pool to the other! We were so excited for her!

"I won't let you go" was repeated a lot during the process of getting Alaina to float on her back without her floaty.

Autumn did such a great job with Alaina in the pool....she is definitely the one who deserves the credit for teaching her to swim.

It was extremely sunny during the first part of the meet, and we had gotten a bit to much sun the day before, so we made sure we had our heads covered and were wearing long sleeves even though it was HOT.

University of North Florida

The track meet ran until 10p.m., but we never had to put on a jacket. The temperature stayed around 70-75 degrees. It was soooo comfortable. Just beautiful weather for so late in the evening!

Fooling around up in our "Eagles Nest" in the stands.

Alaina did a great job cheering on the runners at the meet.

Autumn spent a lot of time on the bus reading C.S. Lewis's Narnia Series. She almost finished it! We stopped in North Carolina to let the kids run for a few hours and it was beautiful there. It felt like spring in Michigan. Daisies were popping out everywhere. We spent the night in Cleveland, OH., and then drove all the way back up to the Sault the next day. We were a bit nervous with all of the tornadoes and winter storms we were hearing about, but we only went through one rainstorm, and although it was EXTREMELY COLD and SNOWY, the roads were fairly clear in the U.P.  We made it home at around 6p.m. on Sunday, March 4th.  It was a LONG trip and a REALLY LONG drive, but I think all of the experiences and memories created was well worth the time in the bus.

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