Adventures, Beaches

Spring Break:Cocoa Beach

One week prior to the start of our vacation my husband says to me:

“There is supposed to be a cold front while we are at the beach, can we cancel it? It’s going to be freezing!”

Me: “Nope. Bring a jacket!”

After a year of canceling long weekends and vacations I didn’t care if it was going to be snowing on the beach, I wasn’t canceling again. We needed to get away from the house!

I made reservations at South Beach Inn on Cocoa Beach, we had stayed there once before and really liked it. It’s an older hotel and needs some TLC on the outside, but it’s small and away from the hustle and bustle around the pier down the road. All the rooms are very nice and clean, they have a kitchen, they allow pets, it has beach access and it’s affordable; it checks off all our boxes.

The evening before it was time to leave I started the process of packing and trying to anticipate everything. I went grocery shopping so we didn’t have to worry about it once we got there, packed up our kitchen, our bathroom, kid’s closets, beach gear, dog stuff, and I almost forgot my own bag. The morning of, my husband had scheduled to have our roof and patio pressure washed, so I finished packing the cooler, cleaning up the house, and trying to make sure I didn’t forget anything (which I did anyway). Finally around 1:00 we started our 2.5 hour drive and officially began our 5 day vacation at Cocoabeach.

When we got there the very nice man checking us in informed me that we would not have direct beach access because they just started pumping sand onto the beach so there was a lot of construction equipment. BUT, we could walk just a minute down the sidewalk and there was an access point there. This was annoying. But ok, What can I do, besides a little walking never hurt anyone. So we moved in changed and headed to the beach, well, me the kids and our puppy headed there. By this time we could already feel the cold air coming in, it was super windy and my husband just wasn’t feeling it.

The boys didn’t care, they hit the waves and Chase (our pup) loved digging and rolling in the sand. It was just us crazy’s on the beach. It was cold. It was really cold. For a moment I almost admitted my husband was right.

We were there long enough for the boys to get their fix and Chase to get used to ocean water and drink too much of it. Then we headed back, popped open a bottle of wine and some juice boxes, enjoyed the fab dinner my husband made, and got our relax on.

Saturday evening through Monday it was way to cold for me to get in the water, but I made sand castles and watched my little ones boogie board and get beat up by the waves. Monday we ventured to The Enchanted Forest Sanctuary and walked a few of their nature trails. We were hoping we would be able to grill, but it’s picnic baskets only. The trails were nice though. It’s hard for me to get excited about Florida nature trails because they all are very similar. But it was easy for the kids to do and very well signed so you can’t get lost. The trails are well kept and the length of the trails is perfect for young kids. We spent a couple morning hours there then headed back to the beach after lunch.

Tuesday the sun and the warmth started coming back but I wanted to do something different, we tried the Brevard Zoo. I love zoos, always have. This one is small, but it’s very well laid out and had animal exhibits that I haven’t seen before. It wasn’t crowded and all of us really enjoyed it! Great day out and recommended!

They had a small pool for smaller kids, a petting zoo, bird and giraffe feedings, kayak rentals, zip lines, and a train that went around a section of the zoo. Plenty of stuff to spend a full day out and at reasonable price for a family.

Wednesday was a perfect day for the beach. At this point however we had to walk about 5 minutes to get to the beach in a different direction because they had closed several beach access points and there was trucks driving back and forth every 5 minutes on the beach. There was also constant beeping and banging from the construction trucks and vehicles all night long. This was very disappointing.

We found a good spot with no beach traffic and even though the water was cold, I was able to handle it and play in the waves with the boys. We spent almost 8 hours on the beach and it was great! I will warn though, the waves are ROUGH! This is a place surfers like to go, so I had to take them just past the “crash” zone and before the drop off where the current really sucks you in and we were able to jump and bob in the waves.

Thursday we headed back home. Overall it was a really great trip and much needed time away. The beach construction was very annoying and disappointing but we made the best of it anyway. The important thing is we all had fun and time together.

Just Outside, Lessons As We Grow

Rant Alert: Please Control Your Dog Better

So I’m going to rant, and I’m sorry if it offends some dog owners. But I’m tired of dodging other peoples dogs. I have had dogs my whole life. Mostly German shepherd pure breeds and mix and Gordon Setters, but I have also owned a cocker spaniel, and now I own a border collie/Aussie mix so I’ve had a range in dog sizes.

I believe that no matter the breed, size, or age of the dog, a dog parent should always be considerate of others in public places and have control of their pet.
I have always made sure to have control of my dogs when at the park or in public places. I don’t believe in retractable leashes and if we are at a picnic table that is around others I keep my dog on a leash, a real leash, even though he listens very well, I don’t take the chance that he is going to go after another dog, kid, person on a bike, etc. I’m very conscious and aware because I don’t want anyone to be bothered my dog. Even though all my dogs have been very well behaved and mostly docile, you just never know.
I expect the same consideration by other dog owners that are not part of our group. For them to control their dog(s).
So the last few times at the park, we go for short bike rides and I have Chase run along side of me, on a leash. He is outstanding! He listens to my commands, he doesn’t try to go after anyone or any other dog, we just do our thing and no one is bothered or startled by us. If they are, I correct the action immediately and apologize.

The last time at the park, a couple with (4) Boston terriers on retractable leashes didn’t lock the leash and soon as Chase and I (my boys on bikes right behind me) approached one of the terriers ran at Chase, who I had guided to be on the left side of my bike, (opposite side of the dogs to avoid problems) and I had to slam on my breaks to avoid running over the dog. My kids nearly crashing into me and Chase. The guy says “sorry”. I grumble under my breath and say to my crew “let’s go”

Then again today, twice within a 30 second window I dealt with uncontrolled dogs again.
All 4 of us riding bikes with Chase running beside me. We were all having fun not bothering anyone. I had Chase go on opposite side of people before passing anyone, just to be considerate.
Up ahead I saw a guy on roller blades with two dogs pull off to the side out of the way giving them water. Great, he’s doing the right thing so far. Again, had Chase go opposite side an we stayed on the far side of the path. As soon as we approached, his Pitt bull on a retractable leash got away from him and went after Chase, causing me to slam on my breaks and nearly crash.

Guy: “oh, wow. So sorry”

This time I went off, “it’s not ok, you need to control your dog”, and a few other words and then got on my way.
One of my kids stopped for some reason and was taking his sweet time getting going again, so I stopped to wait for him. Group of people at a picnic table near the high traffic pathway had a little dog off leash. Who of course decided to charge after Chase. The lady just stood there and watched, didn’t move a muscle to control her dog. Until I acted like I was going to kick it and started yelling and cussing them to control their dog. Literally 30 seconds after the last incident so I’m mad as hell.

Anyway. Bottom line. Please please please control your pets if you take them to a public place and be considerate of others. I am tired of dodging other peoples dogs. And for heaven’s sake, use a real leash and not a retractable one.

I let my dogs run free off a leash when we are at the park and away from people. I am also always aware of where they are and if other people are coming close to our space. Because I like to let him run free and play with the boys we choose spots away people. If we have no choice and have to be close to others, the 6’ non retractable leash stays on and we make the best of it.


Things happen. I get it. I am a dog person. I love dogs. And the truth is if we were walking or jogging, I probably wouldn’t be so pissed off about these incidents. I would continue being super annoyed but more passive aggressive about it. But we are cruising on bikes and I do my absolute best to make sure nothing happens plus I have my kids with me. If my kids crash because your dog is on a retractable leash or not a leash at all, someone might go to jail because I’m going to loose it.


Everyone is entitled to enjoy their adventures and time outside the way they want to, but at the same time be respectful and aware of others around you.

Adventures, Just Outside, Lessons As We Grow

Good Morning Backyard!

“Can we go camping? Please Mommy!” “We haven’t been on any big adventures in a long time!”

“I wish my love, but it’s really hard to travel and finding good camping spots here is really really hard because of alligators and horrendous amount of mosquitoes. “

“ well. Can we camp out in the yard mommy?!”

It’s about 10:00 pm on a Saturday night when we are having this conversation. I will admit, I’ve had several glasses of wine at this point and even though I’ve pitched and broken down tents hundreds of times, at this particular moment it felt like something that might wake all the neighbors. I sit there deciding what my answer will be as I play the scene in my mind.

Seeing my hesitation and basically reading my mind, my sweet big hearted manipulative boy continues his pitch.

“We don’t need tents Mommy, we can just get our sleeping bags and sleep on the patio. We have a privacy fence now. It’s something different mommy. Its a different kind of adventure. come on Mommy, let’s do something different” cue the big bright smile and sparkling blue eyes.

“You’re right, why not. Let’s do it!”

We went and got our sleeping bags, asked my other kiddo if he wants to join us. Of course he did. The boys, myself, and our dog all got “comfortable” on the hard concrete patio under the blooming mango tree.

We talked for a little while, I told them stories of my hiking days in Georgia and the time I went backpacking on the Appalachian trail for a few days. They talked about Minecraft and all of the details of it. They tell great stories to fall asleep to.

Being asleep didn’t last long for me. The different sounds in the neighbors yards and the temperature chasing to “it might rain” woke me up. I dozed thru the night, but mostly just took in the moment. I stared at my kids hoping this was one of the memories they hang on to. I watched them with bewilderment as they slept so peaceful on the ground. Mostly I just soaked in the love and happiness of being “us”.

As the sun started coming up I realized I have never bothered to be outside at this time, I am always to busy getting the boys up and ready for school or sleeping on the weekends.

Except when our neighbors had a rooster. The stupid bird from hell woke me up every single Saturday and Sunday at 5:00am. I live in South Florida. We have small yards and close neighbors. I consider it very disrespectful to have a flipping rooster cock-a-doodle-doing on the weekend next to my window. Literally because it somehow kept finding its way into our yard. I never allowed this evil bird to get me out of bed, unless Chase heard it and started whining to go out. In those moments, I couldn’t tell you if the sun was rising or not, all I knew was “cock-a-doodle-fuck-a-doo, hurry up Chase and go poo!” Then buried myself back under the blankets for a few hours.

My boy had a good idea as this was a nice change in routine and I got to see how our back yard wakes up on my terms and not some annoying farm animals.

Thankfully by this night the Rooster was gone. I don’t know what happened to it, but I am glad that something did.

I laid there, my spine in some pain and sending tingling sensations to my fingers. Our sleeping bags covered in leaves and flowers that fallen from the mango tree. I watched as the yard came alive.

Woodpeckers started knocking on the electrical pole, mocking birds singing, green parrots flying by on their way to find breakfast, blue Jays chasing away the singing mockingbirds, various insects emerging, silk worms glistening in the morning rays of light, lizards coming out to warm in the sunlight; yes it was a nice change in pace.

I gained some new perspective and reinforced my appreciation for the small things in life (as well as my bed).

About 7:00, I peeled myself off the ground and cleaned up my blanket. Stretched and popped and took a deep breath of morning air. Then I made myself some coffee and decided to open a book I haven’t read since I was a teenager, “Chicken Soup for the Soul” while the boys continued sleeping on the hard ground.

Wishing y’all a very Happy, Healthy, Smart, Strong, & Successful Day!

Adventures, Beaches, Just Outside

A Long Weekend on Cocoa Beach, FL

Cocoa Beach, FL Behind the South Beach Inn

This post is a little bit overdue. Life has been so crazy since the kids have been doing virtual school, I feel overdue on several things. Back in September we finally took a little break from life and had a wonderful long weekend on Cocoa Beach. We didn’t do any of the “touristy” things as we are still keeping our distance but we still had fun.

We arrived on Friday to our hotel, The South Beach Inn. It’s about 2-3 miles from the pier where the “hot spots” are. When we go on vacation we always look for places that have a kitchen. Even without COVID we prefer to cook our own meals, not just because it saves on money, but dining out isn’t enjoyable for us with small hyper kids. This place had a kitchen, a bedroom, sofa bed for the kids, and was right on the beach. It was extremely clean and super affordable! It had a nice yard and place for grilling and having get togethers, a deck with plenty of chairs and benches to relax that is lighted at night, a shower to wash off the salt and sand before you go back to your room, as well as beach gear (boogie boards, chairs, etc) you could borrow if needed. The staff was friendly and very helpful when needed. The hotel is an older hotel and has character to it, regardless I would definitely recommend it if you are looking for an affordable place on Cocoa Beach.

Backside of Inn
Second Floor, from outside our room

We arrived during high tide on Friday, the waves were brutal on the beach. If you are a surfer, you would have loved it! If you are a family with smaller kids, probably less love for the waves. Even for me, after being in the water for 5 minutes, I was over it! The waves were so high and smacked me so hard that it rolled me under water and dragged me thru the sand back to the shoreline several times. The boys didn’t go out as far as I did and it was actually worse for them closer to the beach. So, mostly we made sand castles on Friday. Saturday and Sunday were not to bad during low tide. We had a lot more fun with the boogie boards and playing in the ocean. High tide started coming in between 3-5:00pm, so we had pretty much the whole day to play in the water.

We drove to the pier on Saturday just to see what it was all about. Parking is $15 for the day and since this is where all the shops and restaurants are it was very crowded. We decided it wasn’t worth it, went to Publix and spent $15 on some chicken wings and wine then headed back to the hotel for lunch and walked to the beach.

My husband in our beach spot. As you can see, not crowded at all

Another great thing about this beach is there are a lot of sea treasures to be found!

All of us enjoyed our long weekend at Cocoa Beach and will definitely be back. Next time I hope to be able to check out the Kennedy Space Center and see one of the rocket launches.

Adventures, Just Outside, Theme Parks

Chattanooga, TN

Tennessee is blessed to have so many wonderful family destinations. I hope to be able to visit Nashville, Memphis, Pigeon Forge, Gatlinburg, and Lynchburg when this crazy pandemic is over. Actually, it’s not a bad idea to take 2 weeks and just drive around Tennessee seeing all of these places. Hmmmmm, I’m going to look into that.

Where I have been is Chattanooga. I have been to Ruby Falls, Tennessee Aquarium, and Rock City/Look Out Mountain a few times in my life. I have visited them as a child and now with my children. Both times really fun, just from different perspectives. Well, it was a little better when I was kid. I didn’t have to buy the souvenirs! At that time I was a kid the internet was non-existent which made a big difference. Especially with Ruby Falls. It wasn’t so commercialized and crowded.

We visited Ruby Falls and the Tennessee Aquarium when my boys were about 5 years old, so it’s been a few years but I remember it like it was just a few weeks ago. We started the adventure at the Tennessee Aquarium. We have been to several aquariums, Georgia, Miami, SeaWorld, and Tennessee. Tennessee is unique from the others as it’s a fresh water aquarium and focuses on the critters and fishies of the Mississippi River. I really enjoy this museum as did my kids and husband. You start by walking through a butterfly garden where you become basically a moving tree for all of the butterflies. They made me a little jealous because they were all over my husband while we were in there. They thought they could just flutter their pretty wings and take him over. You are aloud to linger in these area for a long as you want; they have a really nice set up and they also show the different style of cocoons for each of the species that flutter there.

When you walk out, you begin your journey through the aquarium on the top floor and as you walk you wined down back down to the bottom. There is a lot of space so it doesn’t feel crowded and little ones can go at their own pace and see all the cool fish. There are a lot of interactive stations and things to see and do here. This is a must do when in Chattanooga and won’t be disappointed. Unless you are expecting dolphins and orca shows, then you might be. My husband was expecting it to be more salt water and it took him a few to get into it, my bad for not warning him.

Ruby Falls.

Ruby Falls is beautiful and unique and something that I feel should be experienced once in your life. If you didn’t get to experience it before the internet then you won’t feel as disappointed as I did when you visit now. I will explain why.

In the 90’s was the first time I went to Ruby Falls and all of the other attractions of Chattanooga. The tour starts by getting in an elevator and descending 26 stories or 1,120 feet into the Earth. When you get down there you are guided through some pretty awesome caverns until you eventually reach the very beautiful and amazing underground waterfall, Ruby Falls. That part hasn’t changed at all. The difference is the amount of people and it feels very commercialized now and no where near as personable. Yes they have cheesy tour guides still, but there is section of the tour where the cavern opens up and everyone can gather around, in the 90’s the tour guide would tell you the story of Ruby Falls and how it came to be. Today they use televisions all over and pre-recorded movies.

But that’s not my biggest disappointment. There isn’t much space 26 stories down inside the Earth. Before there was a small group of people 20-30 at most at scheduled intervals. These tours (back then) were scheduled so 1 group had enough time to get to the end and start working back before the second group came down. This way you really go to enjoy the different structures, ask questions, kind of take your time. Plus, when you got to Ruby Falls, you were able to spend 10 minutes just walking around it. We were able to go behind the waterfall and had plenty of time to get amazing pictures. No, they still do about 20 people in a group, but the groups descend every 15-20 minutes. There are so many people down in the caverns that you are constantly having to stop and move to the side so previous groups can get out. You can’t stop and enjoy the stalactites, and stalagmites because there is an army behind you and another army trying to pass you. When we reached the falls, they closed off the walk ways that went around the waterfalls and you are only allowed 5 minutes. You have to contend with 20-40 other people for the perfect picture and soak in the moment and beauty of what you are trying to get a picture of before the tour guide takes off. Because there are so many groups down there, it’s not just yours at the waterfall. Then you make the rushed journey back squeezing around people.

Like I said, if you didn’t know it then, you will probably be more impressed than I am with Ruby Falls. I still think you should see it, it’s still interesting and beautiful. I just don’t think it’s worth another visit. Unless they start limiting how many tours happen simultaneously.

Rock City Gardens and Look Out Mountain

The best for last. This is my favorite place in Chattanooga. We recently went back this past January. We were there January 1st, 2020. I thought that by spending the first day of the year having fun and traveling as a family, meant that’s how I would spend the year. Guess 2020 didn’t get the memo.

It’s magical. More magical than Disney World. I’m probably one of the few who have that opinion, but Disney has a lot of people and long lines and is overpriced and usually super hot. Anyway, that is a different post. Rock City Gardens has a fairy tale theme to it. As you walk the path to Look Out Mountain and then back around to the beginning you will see sneaky gnomes, Rainbow Hall, and story book characters hiding in the walls. When you reach the top of Look Out Mountain you will see seven different states and have all of the time in the world to take in the moment. It’s not over crowded or maybe it’s just open enough it doesn’t feel that way. My whole family agrees that this is the best place in Chattanooga. I will let the pictures do my talking for this one. Save this one for last if you go and see these 3 family fun places. Also before you go, check and see if they have any special events. I would really really like to go back and see their winter fantasy of lights. Being there at night though makes me nervous because it’s on a mountain. Driving down a mountain at night sounds deadly for this South Florida momma. Hotel arrangements and uber with be necessary if we ever do that.

Oh, also all of these places are near each other so driving is very minimal and they are easy to find.