I was born in Southern California, Mission Viejo hospital to be exact, and when I was seven we moved to South Florida, where I spent the next 11 years of my life. Needless to say, I grew up warm, and my concept of cold meant someone was blasting the AC a bit too much. In high school I wore flip flops every single day; in the “winter” it was jeans and flips flops with an occasional hoodie, but still, flip flops, because I could, because 60 was our freak out temperature. When I showed up for college in Gainesville it was August and hot as balls, hotter than South Florida even, no ocean breeze and all that, just stagnate, disgusting, drenching heat, and so my wardrobe was still appropriate and all was right with the world. Then fall came and suddenly I realized how absolutely unaware and unprepared I was. The only closed toe pair of shoes I owned were trainers (that’s British for running shoes; of course I’m not British, I just told you I was born in California). Sweaters? I’m not even sure they sell those in Boca. So here I was, spending a solid several hours a day outdoors between waiting for buses and walking to classes, and seriously lacking the appropriate attire to manage anything more than a brisk breeze. Oh, and I was poor. Like ramen noodle poor. Dear Mom – please come visit me and provide assistance with my mission to avoid freezing to death. Hyperbolically speaking of course. The forties are considered frigid in Gainesville, so it’s certainly not threatening snow or anything winter legit like that, but I certainly wasn’t wearing flip flops either.
Now I live in North Carolina, still very much “the South”, but not in any way the South I grew up in, and with winters that feel far more North in my opinion. Indeed our winters are laughable to folks in places like Buffalo and Cleveland, but to me they’re 100% valid and just about the limit of what I’m willing to endure. Come February each year, I find myself bordering on depressed over the bleakness of our daily forecast, but I’ve survived 11 years of it and intend to be in NC for as far into the future as I can see. And every February of that future I intend to enter the same sad state of complaint over snow and ice and terrible temps, and I’ll surely spend a good 30% of every conversation on the topic of “Is it spring yet?”
Enter the annual mother-daughter trip which kicked off two years ago when I decided to surprise my mom on Christmas with a planned weekend away in Asheville. It was always my intent to continue the tradition beyond that first adventure, and part of the plan was to have said adventure within a couple months of actual Christmas. Guess what happens a couple months after Christmas? February! As in it’s freakin’ frigid everywhere within a reasonable driving distance and given our budget minded nature, we’re never too keen on flying for this trip. This year, however, I had a fancy Southwest voucher, and so I came up with the grand idea to pick a destination from one of Southwest’s many fare sales and get us way out of town. Of the ten or so places one can fly from RDU “on sale”, there are two that tend to cost less than $100 per person, per leg – Baltimore and Fort Lauderdale. I’ll allow you a quick minute to ponder the likelihood of me going to Baltimore in February (or ever)… all set then? Fort Lauderdale or bust!
So technically we went in March, but it was super early March which might as well be February, especially given the sleety mess that occurred back home while we were gone. I’ll summarize the trip by saying that it was exactly what it needed to be – an escape from the doldrums of winter to spend relaxing time in a tropical climate with my favorite mom. I’ll also say that I would not recommend Fort Lauderdale as a vacation destination to anyone really, unless you find yourself in a situation similar to ours where you need a cheap flight to somewhere with a beach and you have zero expectations about doing anything other than beaching (or pooling), and I’ll end my FL-FL hating right there to spare you any boring rants and also avoid the impression that the trip was anything less than great. We talked, we walked, we ate. We explored and took pictures and read books. We enjoyed hammocks by the pool, at least one proper tanning session on the beach, and a whole heap of chill time and together time, neither of which I get very frequently. On our last day we ate some badass Cuban food and avoided kidnapping by declining a ride from a stranger, we people watched the heck outta some Broward County transit regulars, and we witnessed a drunk guy at the airport make his wife cry and get escorted away by the police. What else is there?
If you’re up on my Instagram feed you already saw a smattering of photos from this delightfully luminous getaway, but as I’m sure you’ve been anxiously anticipating, there are a bajillion more! It was grand and I’m pleased as punch to have had this experience with my mom. Gallery time…