This past March marked my last spring break as an undergraduate college student at NMU and I had never, ever gone on an official spring break vacation. Ayden and I packed our bags and carpooled with Bryana to Minneapolis. We were all Florida-bound, but Bryana was flying into Orlando to stay with her friend while Ayden and I flew into Fort Myers to meet my lifelong friend, Michaela.
Ayden gripped his seat with a perma-grin as we took for the sky for his first time and read books between daydreaming sessions out the wind. Michaela and her love, Louis, picked us up and drove us into Naples. We arrived near midnight.
While this was Ayden's first, big vacation experience ever, it was also my maiden adventure to the state of Florida too. The temperatures were lovely, but the land seemed fake... acres of destroyed swamplands covered in papery building developments. Nonetheless, the warmth of the Gulf waters were more than welcoming and we were in dire need of an escape from Michigan winter.
We bummed in the soft sands of Clam Pass with Michaela and Louis, where the skies were dramatically splashed with ash and flame from fires just south in the Everglades. All of us together ate sushi and stumbled on a live swing band in a park at dusk. While grabbing ice cream on our way back to our vehicle, we just so happened to run into a group of our friends from back home just strolling down the street! It's a small world, even when you fly a thousand miles away or so.
On the following day, Ayden and I rented a car and made the drive to a place dreamt in most childhood dreams: Walt Disney World. I didn't have a clear read on how I felt about going originally. My sister and I never got to indulge in that fantasy at a young age and I've never been that person obsessed with Disney movies in my 20's (they're great, I'm just not obsessed). However, when we rounded the final corners into the park and took the ferry into Magic Kingdom, happy tears started feverishly rolling down my cheeks, haha!! Perhaps the childhood charm hadn't worn off after all of these years. We met with Bryana and her friend Emily for dinner at Disney Springs that night, and then returned to Naples.
The rest of our time was spent visiting Michaela at her college, Ave Maria; chasing sunsets on Fort Myers Beach area; visiting our uncle from Michigan who just so happened to be vacationing at the same time; successfully searching for alligators; and eating all of the seafood we could possibly find and afford.