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“Come on, let’s go!” I yell from the driver’s seat of our van at my sisters who, as always, are lagging behind. This was the day. The day we have been waiting for over a month now. Departure day. Day one of our week-long vacation in none other than the ultimate getaway state, FLORIDA!

The temperature gauge barely squeaking over 80, it is a beautiful late July day, and the sun decided to be nice to us today. Too bad we had to spend that wonderful day on the road, cramped together and practically nothing to do for the 17 hour, 1200 mile drive. Nothing really exciting happens until we get to southern Kentucky down through Tennessee. That is when we get into the mountains. It started out as very large, peaking hills, then later they turned into skyscraping, rocky and densely wooded mountains. Nothing beats the live experience of driving through the mountains at sunset, when they look like something from a computer background with dark orange, pink, red, and purple peeking over the mountain peaks. Luckily, we got some amazing pictures.

Once we get through the mountains, it is the most boring thing you could imagine. By this time, I have stopped driving and am now in the back seat trying to get some sleep, which isn’t too hard because we are driving through Georgia from top to bottom, which is like driving on a road with no twists, turns, or hills for 400 miles or better. The moment we get to the Florida line, the scenery, and environment, changes almost in the blink of an eye. It goes from hot and humid to still hot, but nice and breezy. As soon as we get to our rented house, we unpack everything and get situated and ready for the fun-filled week ahead of us.

The cool thing about this trip is that we have our own personal “tour guides”, in a way. My step-mom’s son and his wife and kids live down here, so we have everything planned for the whole week. The first 2 days are just relax and get to know the area and some amenities to see. The next 3 days, we visit a local beach where we were staying, which by the way is on the coast of the Gulf of Mexico and in a town called Spring Hill and it is roughly between Columbia City and Fort Wayne in size, visit a beach about 45-60 miles away in the Tampa/St. Petersburg area called Madeira beach and go to a gift shop/Gulf tour shopping center called John’s Pass and visit the greyhound dog races in Tampa, then we visit the beach of Fort DeSoto, which was ranked #1 in American beaches in 2005. The last 3 days, we go back to John’s Pass, spend one day job and house hunting in the area, and the last day is a pack-up/clean-up/skidaddle out of there day.

The drive back up home is just about the same as the drive down except that we take a slight detour in Tennessee and go through the eastern part of the state, see more, better mountains, and head into Gatlinburg, TN to Ripley’s Aquarium, the #1 ranked aquarium in the nation. After the aquarium, the drive home is long, tiring, and actually pretty relaxing, believe it or not.

This was the first vacation I have been on in 11 years. My last family vacation was when I was 4 years old and we went down to spend some time with my great-grandparents in their old Florida winter home. I can honestly say, this is the best vacation I have ever been on.





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