Life, Uncategorized

A Fun Surprise for Our Tenth Anniversary Trip

Planning this trip proved more difficult for us than we initial expected. There were a few non-negotiables we laid out from the start:

  1. We had to go somewhere we didn’t know people

Michael and I are greatly blessed with many friends around the world. Because of this, it isn’t often that we get to see some of them. When an opportunity comes to travel, I can’t help but try to find ways to connect with others. However, It is necessary for our marriage to have time to just the two of us away from connections and responsibilities. So, it was important we find somewhere that would offer us that.

2. It had to be somewhere warm with lots of sunshine

3. A place we hadn’t travelled before

Michael has travelled a fair amount of the world and I know people in a lot of countries. This option proved to be the most difficult.

4. We wanted to go to an English-speaking country

Having food allergies can limit my options. Every time we’ve gone to a country that doesn’t speak English, I’ve gotten really sick. In order to not cause a repeat, we decided English speaking was best for our first big trip, so we didn’t have that worry.

Well, after a lot of chats, I finally asked Michael if I could surprise him with the trip. He obviously knew what our requests were, but wouldn’t know anything else. He agreed, and the research began! This led to months of quiet planning. It was so hard to not talk to him about the trip!

As I was researching, I took into consideration everything we enjoy doing together, along with the thought that we wanted to try things we couldn’t do at home, while still keeping things within our budget. We’re not ones to care about fancy accommodations. Our enjoyment comes from good food and fun activities; enjoy the adventure.

The day finally came. We headed to Toronto airport in the evening of Saturday, January 27. As we waited in the customs line, I told Michael we were heading to Orlando, Florida!

Once we were settled and waiting for the plane to arrive, I handed him an itinerary booklet that listed each day’s activities, along with a little love note at the front of it 😊

The flight didn’t arrive to Orlando until 11:00pm. Once we got our rental car, we began driving through an industrial area towards the hotel for the evening. Something Michael and I dreamed of since we started paying off our mortgage was to rent a sports car on a trip. Well, I found a good deal on a Camaro convertible. As we were driving through the industrial area around midnight, we saw a police truck with its lights flashing at the front of a parking lot. Tons of cars filled the lot, many of them were hastening to leave, cutting infront of the vehicles ahead of us. Then we heard sirens close by. As we passed by and came to a set of streetlights, it dawned on us it was a street race. We felt like we suddenly jumped into a Fast and Furious movie! We burst out laughing and looked around for police, wondering if we’d get pulled over and questioned since we were also in a nice car! Thankfully nothing happened to us, but it was definitely a noteworthy introduction to our trip!

There were so many fun activities on our trip. To save you having to read a very long letter of all our highlights, I’ll share a few here, and maybe post some photos on our social media page so you can see the rest.

Shout out to First Orlando for a welcoming, God-honouring church service! It was our first activity, and did it ever get our hearts started right. It was such an incredible experience to sing Kari Jobe’s, The Blessing, over hundreds of people, while also receiving it ourselves. Bless you, Pastor Dave, and all your leadership as you serve Jesus!

It was surprising that the most unique events became the highlights for both of us, but I think it was the fact that it was something new for us to experience together.

Monday, January 29, friends gave us a gift to play at Gator Golf. It was a mini-golf course that had alligator encounters all around it. Thankfully, they were behind fences, but it made for a fun experience. That night, we went to Ole’ Red Restaurant. It was such a blast! Michael and I tried line dancing for the first time. Ole’ Red is now on our radar for wherever we travel to next. If there’s one around you, you should try it out. You can listen to live up-and-coming bands while eating dinner. In between the band’s sets, they have a line dancing instructor come out and anyone who wants to try can come on the dance floor and do a couple types of line dances. They had a mechanical bull you could ride at that particular restaurant as well. Though I would have liked to for nostalgia’s sake (I rode one on our honeymoon!), I thought it best to avoid it this time.

Tuesday checked off an item from my bucket list. Michael and I were able to enter a sloth’s encounter at Wild Florida Tours, and have some one-on-one time with the sloth, Chloe! We were able to pet her and get right up close for about a half hour or so. It was a dream come true. The employee was very informative about sloths and the other animals at their facility. Then we took an airboat tour as we heard they had seen some gators and a couple bald eagles that afternoon. Sure enough, we experienced the same. At one point, we were able to almost get right under a tree that had a bald eagle sitting at the top of it. I’ve never come so close to one in the wild before. My heart was in awe of God’s creation that day and His handiwork.

Animals do fascinate me. Do you remember the show Krat’s Kreatures? They’ve redone it a couple of times, but I used to watch the original show when I was a child. The research they shared about animals on each show was so intriguing to me, I’d make notes about it while watching the show haha. I always wanted an office in a tree house after that, and to work/be around animals. Thanks for fulfilling that desire, Mac! Michael enjoys animals and being out in nature, so he too relished in that day with the sloth and airboat tour.

Well, I guess it’s not entirely surprising that our other favourite moments on the trip had to do with animals.

Saturday morning (Feb 3), we woke early and took a two-hour drive to Silver Springs, Florida where we went on a paddle boarding tour with manatees, with Epic Adventures! There were a bunch of them in the river as it was mating season for them, and the water stayed a consistent 72 degrees Fahrenheit. We were able to float around them for quite a while, watching them roll around, blow water from their noses, and see their little calves with their mommas. The adventure grew when an alligator swam a close distance by us. Thankfully it was cold that morning, so it was more interested in finding a sunny spot to warm himself than eat us for breakfast.

On the Monday, we took a horseback ride through a limestone quarry. Though we wished we could go faster on the horses, it was such a blessing to go for a ride again, and to see the beautiful scenery.

Orlando was insanely busy that week, as comic, cowboy, and space conventions were all happening, the NFL Pro Bowl game, and the Olympic tryouts were taking place, along with the regular winter snowbirds and Disney travellers were there. But it didn’t matter to us since we didn’t have much of a timeline to rush for, expect the odd activity.

We enjoyed an Orlando Magic and Phoenix Suns‘ basketball game, touring the comic convention for a bit, and thoroughly indulging in so many delicious foods, especially at Texas De Brazil restaurant on our actual anniversary. Talk about a meat lovers’ dream. We both highly recommend it!

The Lord was so gracious in answering our prayers for a special time away, health, provision, and a fun time of connecting and reminiscing about so many things the Lord has done in and through us since we’ve been married. Now we look forward to this new decade together and seeing what the Lord has in store. We know there’ll be hard times and amazing ones too. Regardless, may we continue to grow more strongly together in Christ and one another, and be a light to those around us as we do.

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