(June 2nd-June 6th, 2015)
Hey, hey! Would you look at that? I am on a roll! This post is up in less than two months since my last one! Brownie points for me (I take my victories where I can). Alright, enough with the self praise & encouragement, let’s get to the real reason why you are here. You want to hear about my awful (and laughable) mistakes I made while traveling.
So while I was on vacation in New York, I took a mini-detour (vacation from my vacation if you will) to Florida to meet up with my best friend Oxie and her brother-in-law, Ivan (or Kifa as we called him). He is basically someone who came straight out of the pictures on Tumblr, makes his own leather products, knows how to skimboard, and basically all around the kind of “hip” I can only dream to be.
Once both Oxie and I landed in Jacksonville, Florida, Kifa picked us up from the airport and our first stop was to celebrate my birthday with Italian Food (my favorite)! After getting the yummies in our tummies, we wasted no time and headed straight to the nearest beach. Kifa, being a native of the land (and by native I mean he has been to Florida more times than I have), took us to Atlantic Beach. I always thought California had strange weather, but Florida was all kinds of confused. It was very cloudy (with occasional lightning and thunderstorms in the distance), windy, and if you didn’t step outside, you would want to put on a sweater. But when you did walk outside, you immediately stripped down to a pair of shorts and a tank top because the humidity clings to your skin in a way I can’t quite describe. Regardless of all of this, I still enjoyed my first ever frolicking experience in the warm Atlantic Ocean and the fact that we had the beach practically to ourselves.
The following day we left Jacksonville for St. Augustine. This town is known for its history and architecture rather than sandy shores, and we took the opportunity to walk around the Castillo de San Marcos (which according to Wikipedia “is the oldest masonry fort in the continental United States”). Who knew Florida had more to offer than just beaches? We spent the rest of the afternoon walking down the streets of the town while eating Kilwin’s scrumptious ice cream.
After getting our fill of the sights (and also a little too much Vitamin D) we decided to move on to our next location: Daytona Beach. We made it to Daytona about an hour before the sun started to set (and the beach started to close) so we had just enough time to bask in the flat white sand that made up the shoreline. As soon as the sun set, we moved on to the next beach (where we would ultimately be staying the night).
Cocoa Beach is a little strip of land off the coast of Florida, with sand even whiter than that at Daytona. I noticed that the waters got more blue and the sand got whiter the farther down south we traveled. I also found it odd that there was an overwhelming number of “surf shops” lining the streets in all the beach towns, but not much actual surfing happening because all the beaches we went to didn’t really have any “surfable” waves. Anywho, back to the important plot: we got to the beach at night, and after dropping off our stuff at the hotel and pigging out on sushi, we decided to take a walk along the shore. First of all, there are so many little critters out at night. We had to watch where we walked to make sure we didn’t step on any wandering crabs. Then, brace yourselves for the highlight of the trip, we came across a sea turtle! A real, live sea turtle! I wish I got a picture of it, but I was too busy freaking out and sending snapchat videos before it crawled back into the ocean. Hands down, the coolest experience ever.
From there on, things sort of went downhill and this is when I started to make mistakes. The following day was the first day we spent “basking in the sun” in typical vacation fashion. Being the pasty white color that I was, I decided there was no way I could return from Florida without a golden glow. So when shopping for sunscreen, I opted for the suntan lotion (I think you may guess where I am going with this) and had high hopes that I wouldn’t need anymore protection. Ten minutes was all it took for my skin to go from white to beet red. Honestly, I didn’t even feel it until maybe later that evening, and I wouldn’t have known I fried that fast if Kifa & Oxie didn’t point it out. So there I was, in an extremely tight one piece bathing suit, skin burning everywhere, and in desperate search for a quick remedy. Let me just tell you, Pinterest had never failed me so badly as it did that day. No matter what people say, apple cider vinegar does not take away the pain and create an overnight tan, coconut oil does little to soothe the fiery sensation all over your body, and aloe vera gel creates a sticky mess with no resolution. All I could do was minimize any movements while hugging the ac unit, silently crying through the remainder of the night, and convincing myself not to buy the earliest flight back home because it was an absurd amount.
But I was in vacation in Florida and nothing was going to stop me from enjoying myself, so I sucked it up and we moved on to the next beach. This time crossing Florida to get to Clearwater Beach on the west coast. In Clearwater we got to go parasailing, which was another highlight for me. I thought I would be terrified from the height, but to my surprise I found the experience incredibly relaxing. I would compare it to a huge swing way up in the sky. And because you’re flying over the ocean, you can’t really tell how far up you are, so it’s not really a “thrill seeking” kind of adventure. Still totally worth it though, I would do it again if I could.
And here you can see the full effect of the staying out in the sun from the day before. Makes me wince from pain just thinking back to that time.
We spent the rest of our day enjoying the “beach life” and stayed out even after the sunset. Guys, the water is so unbelievably warm at night. Oxie and I refused to get out because of how perfect it was (also because getting out meant freezing in the light breeze). But unfortunately we eventually had to leave and go to sleep because the next morning I had to catch my flight back to New York.
I would like to end this post with reminding you to appreciate whatever skin you have and continue to be spontaneous, just spontaneously safe. Also, stock up on sunblock. The sun does not mess around.
That’s all! Toodles!
xoxo Ollie ❤