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Flip Flop Weather in January

Wow. Way to go me: a blogger who doesn't even blog for over 2 months... Sheesh. Life taking over isn't even an excuse, but that is what happened: the holidays, travel, illness, and work all made this Mama incredibly busy! So now I'm taking a quick moment to update on the latest adventure of Ruby and her first of 2018: the Florida Keys!

Every year Brock's parents have rented a house in the Florida Keys, and we are invited to come and spend time with them. We went in 2013 (and that was the year we got engaged at mile 11 on the Key West Half Marathon!), 2014, and then we skipped a few years (2015 we stayed in Seattle because we were moving in a few months, and 2016 I was very pregnant) and finally went back last year for Ruby's first official vacation. This was Ruby's second year making the trek down to the warm sunny Florida Keys during a cold and miserable January. 

We went a day earlier than Nanee and Hop, because we planned to explore Biscayne National Park and Everglades National Park. Brock and I had been through the saltwater mangroves in the Everglades, but didn't officially visit the main park, so we wanted to do that this year. 

Biscayne NP is stunning, and I recommend going when you have time to really explore the water: snorkeling or kayaking, because I imagine is it beautiful. On a chilly day with a rambunctious and over-tired toddler, we did NOT venture onto/into the water but instead enjoyed the visitor center and the views. 

That night we ate at a local place called Yardie Spice, and it was fantastic Jamaican/Haitian food that we recommend to anyone who likes a local place. The owner was super friendly, and his wife was a talented chef. 

We stayed at Ruby's first hotel, a local Travelodge, and Ruby LOVED it. Now any building she sees is a hotel, and she then proceeds to tell us that she slept in a hotel in Florida. 

Jan 6 was our trip into the Everglades, and then after a quick lunch of tacos, we headed south to Key Colony, just off of Marathon. 

The weather was beautiful: it was pure joy for Ruby to be outside in the winter, feeling the sun on her skin and the breeze in her hair. We explored local playgrounds and beaches, drank cuban coffee, and spent lots of time swimming in Nanee and Hop's pool. 

We drove down to Key West, because Papa wanted Ruby to see the butterflies at the Key West Butterfly Conservatory. It felt like a fairy tale, with colorful butterflies surrounding us in a tropical jungle. 

We stopped to have our obligatory photo at the southernmost point in the continental US... because why not?

Ruby and I spent a morning with Nanee exploring Florida Keys Aquarium Encounters, where there were touch tanks. Ruby got to touch a sting ray, a sea urchin, and a starfish, which she happily tells anyone who listens. She also got to see fish being fed, and cheered on Chester, a puffer fish who wasn't getting his share. She had a blast, and made lots of good memories with her Nanee. 

We got to spend a day with cousins Kenzie and Cam and Aunt Sonia and Uncle Casey, swimming and playing.

We came home to the cool, damp, winter weather of Northern VA, and immediately Ruby returned to having chapped lips and a sniffly nose. Ruby keeps saying she wants to go back to the airport, ride the airplane, and go to Florida to see Nanee and Hop! 

One thing I suggest: visit the Florida National Parks in January. I can't image the mosquitos in the summer. Our plan for any future visits to the Keys: a boat ride for Ruby!

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