The day began like many others have since we moved to Florida a week and a half ago. A a quick errand early, we gobbled down some breakfast and then sat down to work for a while before tackling an arm long list of things we must continue to do as the newest homeowners in Carrollwood Village. My goal was to paint a hutch we recently bought and Nick was going to tackle his email.
With a spare minute before I started, I checked Facebook and noticed I had an email from my high school friend and fellow Floridian, Eric Reddish. He emailed he knew it was short notice, but wanted to know if My Man and I wanted to come with he and his kids on his boat. Want to? This would be our first “DaysUnplanned” adventure in Florida, but we were primed and ready for it!
We rushed around, grabbed our suits and a couple of towels, stopped long enough to run a toothbrush across our teeth and then flew out the door for the short drive to the Dunedin dock. Eric was joined by four of his kids, ranging from the two in college (Addie and Mitch), to another in high school (Zac), to the fourth who is few years younger (Cole).
The boat was ready to go when we pulled up and we cruised out to the intercostal waterway. Our first stop was Anclote Key in the Gulf of Mexico. The boat ride was gorgeous. The water was a beautiful mix of blues and greens. My face hurt from smiling so much, but also from chuckling at the ribbing each of Eric’s kids did with each other and their father. My Man smiled like a six-year-old girl on Christmas morning.
Anclote Key is a small island near Dunedin that is only reachable by private boat or ferry. It features a lighthouse and a stunning coastline. Read more about Anclote Island here. We docked close to shore and waded in.
Zac was the first off the boat and he was rewarded, as he found a small sand dollar. Note: the ladies back in Colorado may not recognize him without his man-bun.
After docking, we set off for a beach walk.
With lively conversation, we stopped to pick up shells, more sand dollars, and anything unique we found – including a live horseshoe crab.
Mitch and Nick spotted three different sponges. The second ones were smaller and My Man grabbed them to take home. I wondered aloud if he would use them to wash the car and he smiled big.
There were so many shells. Addie found a piece of coral and there was also a beached pufferfish. Read more about a pufferfish here.
All of the sudden, we noticed a huge school of fish, jumping out of the water. My squad was quick to swim out to it to get a closer look. At first, I stayed close to shore, fearing JAWS! Anybody remember this scene?
OK, back to our own fish story.
Soon after we swam around the fish, which kept jumping out of the water and bumping in to us – a fishermen and his son pulled up and started netting the fish.
We watched him pull in nets filled with fish and swam over to his boat to get a closer look at his catch. He young son was thrilled, telling us “this is my first day and we already have like $400 worth of fish. I am going to put this on YouTube!”
This might have been the highlight of the day for My Man.
A little while later, we walked back to where our chairs were, shared a Coke and a smile and began to get ready to head out to lunch. The two youngest built quick sand castles as we carried things out to the boat.
We took a ride and docked the boat in Largo, to eat lunch at The Pub. The fish tacos and the clam chowder were amazing! During lunch, Eric talked more to Nick about a boat club – something My Man was convinced we would be doing soon.
Cruising along, with Mitch and Addie taking turns steering the boat, we saw a number of dolphins. We also saw a couple of boats I promise you I won’t ever ride on: one made to look like a shark and another, a pirate ship. We all decided someday we want to para-sail. I need to do some research on this idea.
All in all, it was a perfect day! Spending time with My Man, not in Home Depot, was the perfect way to spend a day after Christmas. What’s not to like about our new state – including the 83 degree weather. We were all smiles!
This day wouldn’t have been possible without the wonderful hospitality from Eric Reddish and his amazing kids (see below). Other than when we laughed until we couldn’t see straight when the youngest jumped off the boat at the dock, slipped and crushed his side on the cleat (see what a cleat is by clicking here), it was one of the best DaysUnplanned in recorded history. Thank you again Eric!
Why Travel, Cooking and DIY? A creative type, I have always loved painting and decorating as a hobby. Upcycling is a real passion. My mom was a Home Ec teacher when we were growing up. I learned a lot from her and because I love hosting get-togethers, I had to step up my game in the kitchen as well. And lastly, my love of travel comes from my Grandma Schmitt.
An Illinois native, I worked in the White House Communications Agency early in my career (President Reagan), prior to returning to Illinois State University to finish my undergraduate and Master's. After a couple of post-graduate internships (minor league baseball and Big Ten Conference), I then worked in college athletics full-time for more than 22 years -- first at the University of South Carolina for 15 years and then at Santa Clara University for the last seven years. We moved to Tampa, Florida in Dec., 2016 after spending 8.5 years in Northern California.