A Week on an Island

Theo and I flew to Florida last week for Spring Break. My parents generously provided a lovely island home for my sister, kids, us, and themselves for the week.

Despite Theo’s big grin here, he didn’t really like the ocean.

Theo and I flew into Tampa on Sunday early evening and were met by my parents who had flown in several hours earlier. We spent the night in Tampa as it was hard to get there earlier with the three hour time change. Theo had big smiles for his waiting grandparents and was happy to be off the plane and able to kick his feet. (He was particularly fussy on the flight which I realized a couple days later was likely due to his emerging two bottom teeth.)

When we arrived at the hotel, we quickly changed into swim suits and went for a dip in the hot tub. We returned to our room where Grandma fed Theo some sweet potatoes and Grandpa prepared a quick sink bath. I fed Theo and put him down for the night. Then my dad and I walked over to Chipotle for some dinner to go. Theo did great sleeping through the night in his travel crib. (He had slept in it a couple times the previous week in his own room just for practice. It seemed like the practice paid off!)

The next morning, Theo slept later than the rest of us. We stayed at the hotel long enough for Theo to take his morning nap and then we were off on our real adventure!

Sunshine Skyway Bridge

We headed out of Tampa over the Sunshine Skyway Bridge and towards our island destination — Don Pedro Island. We made a quick stop at the local Publix to pick up the cold items: milk, ice cream, etc. Molly had picked up all the other groceries. The island is accessible only be ferry, and we met Molly, Asher, & Isak on the road to the ferry and rode over together.

The ferry is privately owned and charges a pretty penny ($55 round trip), but was completely worth it. It meant that even though it was spring break, we felt like we had the island to ourselves. We rarely saw anyone on the beaches, biking, or driving around the island. We had to do some extra planning as there aren’t any grocery stores or restaurants on the island (& clearly, we didn’t want to spend an extra $55 to get a forgotten grocery item; we’re Dutch after all!).

We arrived at our home for the week and quickly realized that the place exceeded all of our expectations. With a heated pool, hot tub, dock, waterside pavilion, hammocks (brought by Asher & Isak), kayak, bikes, and a lovely house too, we knew we were set for a great week.

We spent the week lounging by the pool, collecting shells on the beach during low tide, fishing off the dock, reading, talking, eating, napping, listening to music, biking, and generally relaxing. It was so nice to not be able to go anywhere except to explore the small island. We also intentionally tried to disconnect a little bit and tried to only be on our phones or computers for 30 minutes or less each day. It was the best vacation we’ve had in a long time.

Of course vacations are different with Theo; I’m never quite off the hook anymore with his constant need for care and supervision, but I had so much support from everyone that I felt like I had a break too. Plus, with his early bedtime, I had evenings to relax, and sit in the hot tub and look at the stars each night with my sister.

We had perfect weather all week — mid 80's and sunny with a breeze to keep the bugs away. We spent all day of almost every day outside. It was hard to leave.

Just in case it sounds to go to be true☺ … our flights home were a nightmare. We left our place around 9:30 am. We ran into our first hiccup when we realized that only one ferry was running that morning. Luckily Molly was a couple cars ahead of us and offered to swap places with us so that we could get on an earlier ferry, but by the time we got onto the mainland, we knew we were already going to be cutting it close to make it to the airport in time.

But my dad is a fast driver and though we encountered quite a bit of traffic on the way, we arrived at the airport around 12:05 pm for our 12:45 pm flight. I was glad to have applied for TSA precheck before Theo was born. (If you fly often-ish or have kids, it’s totally worth the $85 and 10 minute interview to be able to leave your shoes and coat on, not take your laptop out of your bag, leave your liquids in your bag, and bring your up-to 12 year old child with you! Plus it lasts for 5 years!) TSA precheck saved us again. The regular security line had 40+ people in it. TSA precheck had only Theo and I in the line. It even made it possible for me to get a [necessary] snack at Starbucks.

We were the first ones on our flight at 12:15. They closed the door, showed us the safety video, and told us we were on our way. We were out on the runway about to take off when the pilot announced to us that a light had come on and we had to head back to the gate to have maintenance check it out. They opted not to de-plane us, so I had the extra pleasure of entertaining Theo for an extra 2 1/2 hours in the 2x2 sq ft area that was our seat. After watching the safety video a second time (protocol requires them to re-do the safety video if they open the door…), we finally took off around 3:20 (the time our next flight from Atlanta to Los Angeles was due to take off…). I had called Delta while we were waiting at the gate in Tampa and rebooked us on a flight that left at 6 pm instead of 3:20. Our 1 hr flight time quickly turned into a 4 hr ordeal.

We finally arrived in Atlanta and spent an hour in the sky club where Theo could stretch out and kick and play on a blanket. He & I were so happy to be off the plane. Fortunately, we were able to get on the 6 pm flight out and didn’t have to take a later one. Unfortunately, the flight was completely full and we had to sit in the second to the last row. ☹

Again, we were the first ones on our flight. We boarded the plane around 5:30. Again, they closed the door and showed us the safety video. Suddenly there was a bit of a commotion and the pilot explained that there were several people that were getting off the flight because there were some people who really needed to be the flight and so they were swapping spots. Everyone got settled, but then there was a weight issue that took a long time to be resolved. Finally, an hour and fourth! safety video later, we took off. Theo finally fell asleep in my arms 2 hours into the flight, but for both flights, there was a lot of crying. I had the pleasure of being the mom on both flights with the screaming baby.

We were thrilled to finally arrive in LA at 9 and see Justin. We were both exhausted and I had a headache. Justin had already set everything up when we got home for me to give Theo a bath immediately and put him to bed. I followed right after.

My vacation memories though, are not colored by the difficult days of travel. I am so grateful for a lovely week with family. Next time, Justin, you’re coming too!