If you live in the Northeast like we do, winter temperatures arrive in November and often stay until late March. And while sweater weather and curling up by the fire is fun and festive through Christmas and New Years, by January 2nd we're over it.
It's too cold to go out to play, sickness and germs are everywhere, the joy of snow delays and cancellations has worn off and we're left feeling trapped and grumpy. Slowly everyone's mood starts to get ugly and by March things are getting desperate.
WHYYYY? WHY DO WE LIVE WHERE THE AIR HURTS OUR FACE? WHY IS WINTER NEVER ENDING? WE WILL NEVER FEEL THE WARMTH OF THE SUN AGAIN!
But then we remember. Mama is smart. Mama knows that by March the family is on the brink of breakdown and Mama has planned an escape. An escape that involves sunshine, white sand, palm trees and blue water. Because Mama LOVES us! And she wants to remind us of all that is good and right with the world.
So because we are not made of money and have a budget to consider, we do the unthinkable. We pile all 5 of the children and their various devices, pillows, blankets and stuffed animals in the minivan. We bring the beach toys, beach towels, boogie boards, swimsuits, snorkel gear and goggles and head south.
Friends and neighbors question our sanity as we load our minivan and trailer and prepare for an 18 hour drive in search of our sun and sand fix. But we think they are the crazy ones for choosing to stay in the artic circle when there's a chance to escape.
So escape we do. With joy in our hearts and a skip in our step we begin our yearly migration south. We come prepared for our epic road trip with our stack of dvd's and our books on tape. We have our road trip songs and most importantly our giant bag of road trip snacks. Dad insists on driving the entire 18 hours and this couldn't make Mama happier. Mama sits in the front seat and reads, naps, changes the DVD's and occasionally tosses some snacks back to the children.
It's not all fun and games for Mama though. Inevitably one or two of the 5 children will eventually get car sick. Mama will be forced to give up her prime real estate in the front seat to the ailing child and reposition herself as the puke bag attendant.
Mama handles this unfortunate turn of events with grace and dignity. She reminds herself that in a few short hours she will be basking in the sun with her Diet Coke and some historical fiction and will be in her happy place.
Her road trip mantra is always the same. It'll be worth it. It'll be worth it. It WILL be worth it.
Our final destination? Wonderful, sunny, sandy, beachy Florida. We drive right past Orlando with all the Disney fanatics, past Daytona Beach with the college Spring Breakers and head for the islands.
Which islands you say? Why Marco Island, Captiva Island or Sanibel Island of course. We love them all. These family friendly islands with their white sand, calm Gulf waters and warm March temperatures are a little slice of heaven and give this family of seven the winter escape they so desperately need.
Ahh yes, this is it. White sand and blue skies without a cloud in sight
We much prefer making sand angels vs. snow angels
Once we arrive and unload and are settled into our rental for the week, we begin the process of total relaxation.
Okay, not really. We have 5 children on this trip. Let's be honest and say we begin the process of somewhat relaxtion with a goal of mostly relaxation. That's fair.
After our week long escape of being moderately relaxed, we've got sun kissed skin, sand between our toes, and bellies full of beach fare (i.e. junk). We've made awesome memories, remembered we actually like each other and Mama's taken thousands of pictures to document it all. We are refreshed and energized by our time away and ready to return to our frozen tundra.
Okay, we're not really ready to return, but we have to. There are jobs, school and the normal routine of life waiting for us. We make the dreaded drive home (somehow never as fun as the drive there) determined to face down the rest of winter. Winter will not get the best of us! We will survive! And you know what? We do.
We get home and unpack and talk about what an amazing time we had. We catch up with friends and family who want to know about the trip, and before you know it we're back in the swing of things.
It's March, so we get an occasional 60 degree day that tells us Spring is on it's way. Flowers start popping up and before we know it, it's April and we've done it. We've survived another brutal PA winter!
We congratulate ourselves and celebrate that another winter is in the books, woo hoo!
Mama shoos all the children out the door and back to school and she secretly starts looking forward to next years winter escape, when they'll get to do it all again.