Our trip got off to a bad start. On Friday my son-in-law was off work and doing yard work at the house when he tore something in his knee and ended up in the ER. The ER doctor suspects this injury was due to the repetitive stress of his very physical job, because yard work seldom results in blowing out a knee, but either way, he is probably facing knee surgery. Again. He had knee surgery a few years ago; this is the other knee.
But he's a trouper and hobbled on crutches all weekend; he'll see the orthopedist ASAP when we get home. He's in a lot of pain, and it put a damper on what would have been a much more fabulous weekend. The graduation ceremony took place at the BB&T Center during a monsoon rain; half the graduates arrived looking like drowned rats. We got separated from the rest of our group because my son-in-law needed a wheelchair to navigate the arena, but did get decent seats. Delaney was quite well-behaved, considering it was...well...a large and boring commencement ceremony.
But her mommy was the prettiest graduate of all, and we are very proud.
I will not go into the clusterf#ck that was exiting the venue, but it was awful and my hatred of South Florida in general and Fort Lauderdale in particular remains a vibrant, white-hot hate. It was stressful. We met up back at the house and picked up dinner from the Publix deli, too soggy and tired to think of doing anything "fancy."
But once the business part of the weekend was over, it was a very successful weekend indeed.
Our accommodations had been a gamble; it was the first time I tried a vacation rental from TripAdvisor, and while the pictures were nice, the location was good, and the reviews were excellent, you still...never know what you're getting.
What we got was a charmingly funky old house, built in the 40s and very nicely updated with a very pretty and fully equipped kitchen, free wifi, and plenty of space for 5 adults and a 2.5 year old. The backyard was lushly landscaped, with plenty of seating and a gas grill, though the weather prevented us from grilling dinner. Delaney absolutely loved it and called it our "baycation house." (I wish we could afford a baycation house at the beach, but alas, child, you are beautiful but not rich.) The location turned out to be excellent - we were a straight shot down Sunrise Blvd. to the graduation venue and just a few minutes from a fabulous park I'd never known existed: Hugh Taylor Birch State Park.
For those unfamiliar with South Florida, there are very few stretches of beach that are not jam-packed with condos and hotels, AND there is also a remarkable lack of available parking for beach visitors not staying at one of those eyesores, especially on a summer weekend (and the little parking there is is criminally expensive). I stumbled on the state park website while Googling things to do, and noticed that it had a tunnel under A1A to the beach. We parked there for $6, and while it was a challenge to get our stuff and our walking wounded through the tunnel it really wasn't very far, (the able-bodied could do it with ease) and we ended up on a not-too-crowded section of beach near a lifeguard stand. Couldn't get much more perfect than that, but when Delaney's Papa noticed an ADA parking space steps away, he was able to move his car to that spot, so my son-in-law and his mom wouldn't have to walk so far on the return trip. I would not mind returning someday to explore the rest of the park; it looks like a fantastic place for a casual cyclist, and they even rent bikes!
The ocean water was heaven - crystal clear, warm, and nearly as calm as a bathtub. Also shallow enough that a 2 year old could venture in to her waist, holding mom's or grandma's hand, and "One-Two-Three-JUMP!" when the gentle swells rolled by. The sand was not delightful - we have softer sand and wider beaches "up north" in Volusia and Brevard counties - and not fun for digging, but the water was PERFECT.
Delaney was a little nervous about the ocean; she'd had the experience of a wave in the face once, hated it, and was cautious about waves. Conditions yesterday were so perfectly clear and calm she became much more confident about how waves behaved, and anticipated them with "Here comes a big one grandma!" with excitement instead of nervousness. (Big, of course, being relative - to a two-year old every tiny swell is a big wave.) She enjoyed it all very much, and was a good girl and didn't throw a fit when it was time to leave - I told her to say bye-bye to the ocean and we'd come back to visit really soon, and she did.
Her mom reported that Delaney woke at 6:30 this morning and announced, "Look mom, the sun's up! Let's go to the beach!" Sadly, we had to come home.
And as I've said before, I very rarely go to the beach despite living 45 minutes from even nicer and more sandcastle friendly beach options. I spent a lot of time in the water yesterday and now have Beach Fever - I want to go EVERY weekend!
But tomorrow it's back to the office, because we are poor and have no baycation house. I see many day trips to the beach in my future. It'll be almost like a baycation.