Tag Archives: florida


I took the boys to swim with the manatees on Friday down in Crystal River, Florida. I did it during a solo camping trip that I took a couple of years  before Thatcher was born and I’ve been looking forward to sharing the experience with them for several years now.  They’re at a pretty good age for some more adventurous experiences and they’re both pretty brave….which makes life fun.  It also seemed appropriate for Earth Day as the very endangered Florida manatees are making a pretty significant come back.

We met up with River Ventures, a company I would gladly recommend to anyone interested…or even those who aren’t, and participated in a quick classroom discussion about manatees and how to safely navigate the waters to snorkel with them, before boarding our boat.  We had a great day and I’m thrilled the boys not only had the experience, but enjoyed it as much as I did.

The material in the short video below is from our trip.  The photos in the gallery are favorites provided by River Ventures from past days.  During Florida’s colder months, the manatee population in that area hang out in a warm spring…which makes for much better viewing and even more up close and personal encounters.  My first time was in the spring and I’ll never forget it.  While this time we were in murkier water in the larger body of the lake, experiencing it with the boys made it even more unforgettable.

And We’re Off

As I write this, it is 10:00 p.m Thursday night…when it posts, it’ll be 9:00 a.m. Friday morning.  By then (which will be now to you), if all goes as planned, we should be out of Massachusetts, through Connecticut, past New York, and hopefully even out of New Jersey.  On our way, of course, to Florida.

Sure,  flying would be easier…and faster.  But, flying a family of four to Orlando over a school vacation week has gotten ridiculously expensive.  It would be easy to say that was the only reason we’re driving, but…truth be told…I also kind of enjoy it.

We drove to Florida each and every year when I was a child.  While my parents may remember those days differently, I have nothing but fond memories of those trips.  Of course, back then, there were no car seats or even seat belts.  We built forts out of suitcases in the back of the family station wagon and slept a good part of the way.  Of course, back then, there were also no iPads, portable DVD players, or even cell phones.  In some ways the trip was probably easier.  In lots of ways the trip was much more difficult.  No packing of electronics….and chargers for all of those electronics.  No GPS….just giant bulky road maps…that no one in the world knows how to fold back up into their original neat package.  Pros…cons.  Who knows?

Either way, what hasn’t change, is that we’re looking at a whole lot of Forced Family Fun in the car for 24 hours.  Typically, my boys are up for an adventure and thrive on the go.  Road trips are usually exciting and they are good sports who make the most of it.  I am not naive enough to think that will necessarily be the case this time, but one can hope.

Wish us luck.  We’ll keep you posted (because nowadays…unlike back then…blogging is a thing and I can).  With love, from somewhere on 95 South, en route to the Sunshine State.

#makingmemories     (there were also no hashtags back then)


(or emojis)   How did we ever get by?

crown wagon

And So it Goes.

A couple of weeks ago I wrote a post asking for suggestions about how to…or even whether or not to….surprise Thatcher and Finn with the trip we are taking to Florida in April.

You can read that post HERE if you’d like

To summarize, I had planned a “Disney Reveal” three and a half years ago and it was an epic failure.  Thatcher had just turned five and Finn had just turned three.  They had been asking to go and, of course, I thought they’d be over the moon.  Don’t get me wrong…they got excited…just not while I was trying to capture the magic on film.

So, flash forward to Easter Sunday this year.  I figured I would surprise them with the trip during an Easter Egg hunt.  I wrote a little poem, I numbered some eggs 1-18, hid them inside the house (so as not to get confused with the Easter Bunny’s outside eggs), had them line the eggs up in order, open them up to reveal letters, and read the secret message.  It was pretty fun… if I do say so myself.  And, this time, their reaction was….well, no better than last time, actually.  There was a brief moment, when Finn had figured it out, that I thought there may be some celebration dance of sorts….but, he squelched any kind of enthusiasm that was about to break free.  Sigh.

While I know they’re actually excited to bust out of dodge for a bit, head to the sunshine, go on some excellent rides, and hang by the pool….clearly my boys do not enjoy the act of being surprised.

Live and finally learn.

A Do Over. AKA…Freakin’ Balloons.

Shhhhh.  I am planning on surprising the boys with a trip to Disney next month. Although, honestly, I don’t know why.  You could say that I’ve been there and done that already.  And….it was fairly anticlimactic.  Sigh.  You’ll see what I’m talking about in a moment.

My boys are 8 and 6…and they’ve been asking to go. The last time we did Disney they were 5 and 3.  Thatcher was a good age for it all back then, but Finn was just a hair too short for some of the best rides and, while he had a blast, much of it was kind of lost on him.

I’m kind of excited for them to do it again at this age.  If I’m being honest, at this point they could care less about the characters (sorry Mickey, Donald, Goofy, and crew) but they are huge ride fanatics, they LOVE water parks so Aquatica, Blizzard Beach or Typhoon Lagoon will be awesome, and I think they’ll really enjoy Universal now that they’ve seen most of those movies.

When I was little we did Disney every.single.year.  I LOVED it. It never got old.  I know many families could take it or leave it, but for me it is kind of a “must do” of childhood.  Don’t get me wrong, I can’t wait for the day that I can take the boys to Costa Rica to swim with wild dolphins in Drake Bay.  I’ve been dying to recreate my time spent there with them since the second they were born.  Likewise, I’d give anything to relive my trip to Africa…with them by my side this time.  I’ve never been to Alaska, Australia, or Hawaii….and to experience those destinations with them will be a dream come true some day (hopefully). While I’m a big fan of ecotourism and seeing less chartered corners of our world….a good trip to Disney is good for the soul too.  So, that’s where we’re at right now.  We’re going to Disney World.

The “I don’t know why part” was directed at the intended surprise.  Three years ago I planned and plotted to surprise them…thinking, of course, they’d be over the moon. Not so much.  Freakin’ balloons…all they cared about were those balloons….and how I knew whose suitcase was whose.  Heaven forbid they unzip the wrong freakin’ suitcase.

So, I want a do over.  And, I’m open to suggestions.  Any great tips?  Anyone out there surprised their kids with a vacation before? I’m kind of tempted to wait until the day we leave.  Deep down I’m a romantic.  Big time. I kind of like the idea of a big reveal early that morning. But…I also like the idea of them having something to look forward to…and helping with the planning.



Representing in Orlando, FL

I just got back from vacation in Florida. I meant to bring my GMG logo sticker with me to take a photo “representing”, but sure enough, I couldn’t find it when I packed my bags… so I got this photo at Universal Studios, Orlando, with the logo on my cell phone screen instead.

Representing in Orlando

An Open Apology To My Neighbors

Dear Neighbors,

I am sorry for “being that GUY” who leaves up his Christmas lights way too long. Especially, incredibly cheesy candy cane lights on a tree that was barely alive before the 25 snowstorms. I was always the guy who said it’s February dang it – get your bleeping lights off your house! In my only defense, I have tried to pull them off but there is 7 feet of snow there. Its been snowing right before Christmas and has it stopped? Our Cape Ann Weather guy (Twitter @capeannguy) reports we have had 63 inches this year – Do You think I get a pass this year or am I the neighbor you don’t want to live next to?

Sincerely – Patrick