Our first morning in the Florida Keys started out with Ava taking an early morning nap. Something she hasn’t done in over a year. Weird, right? We thought so too. She is a tough little cookie when it comes to telling us about her being sick mostly because she is not a big fan of doctor’s visits. Like most kids, she thinks: Doctors = Shots.

sick ava.

It turns out, she had a little stomach flu. We don’t know what caused it but the red-eye transcontinental flight might have something to do with it. She wasn’t really acting herself last night and it all culminated into a little bit of a projectile vomit in the bathroom after she woke up from her nap. She has never vomited like that before so she was just as surprised as we were. In fact, when she told Marlene that she wasn’t feeling good and had to go to the bathroom, Marlene thought some business was about to get done on the other end. The good news is that once it came up and out all over the bathroom floor, she was ready to go. Just like that.

chicken soup.

And just as soon as she walked away from the bathroom, she declared that she was hungry. As glad as we were to see that she felt better, we were not about to reignite whatever was just burning in her stomach just yet. A little bowl of chicken soup to settle her stomach is probably a good call for now.

trying to crawl.

Mila pleeeeez. Don’t even pretend like you are sick too.

trying the beach again.

Our first full day at John Pennekamp we needed to just walk around and explore a bit about our surroundings. It felt like the wind has not let down much from yesterday so our plan was to head out to the visitors center and see what kinds of activities we could do here.

John Pennekamp is mainly known for the snorkeling and scuba diving you can do at the nearby live coral reef. Even if the winds were behaving themselves, we probably could not partake in those types of activities with our little ones tagging along.

foot long chili dog.

First things first. Even though Ava is just getting over a little stomach flu, that doesn’t mean we can’t indulge in a little jumbo hot dog goodness. At the concession area in the visitor center, we decided to get some lunch. They had these huge foot long hot dogs dressed with chili and nacho cheese that for some reason looked amazing to us. Even though we had just witnessed what foods like these can do to a digestive system, we could not say no to it.

knife and fork hot dog.

These things were so huge, Marlene even at one point decided that her chili dog was going to be a knife-and-fork meal.

key lime pie.

And what is a trip down to the keys without some authentic key lime pie for dessert.


Umm, this thing really hit the spot.

windy palm tree.

Since the winds were definitely still not cooperating, we decided to move our business indoors.

visitor center.

On the docket today, the John Pennekamp Aquarium.


In the visitor center aquarium, their featured attraction is a 30,000 gallon salt water tank filled with some local marine life. The problem is that it is now under renovation so all we got to see is a big plastic tarp covering it up. So much for our back up indoor plans.


At least there is this stuffed alligator to look at inside the display case. I don’t know what kind of alligator this is but it had a really narrow and pointed snout.

75th anniversary.

Aside from the taxidermy alligator and the fish tank under construction, there is also a screening room in the visitor center. Just outside the door to the room was this sign celebrating the 75 anniversary of the Florida State Parks. The woman running the visitor center must have noticed that we were slowly running out of things to do at the aquarium and kindly asked us if we wanted to check out their little video. Notice the film reel graphics on the top of the bottom of the poster? We thought surely the video we are about to see is a film showcasing the last 75 years of the Florida Park System right?

coral reef video.

NOT! We sat down to probably some of the oldest and probably most boring video of the different types of fish one might encounter in the coral reef.

“This is an angelfish. That is a goatfish and that over here is a parrotfish.” Boy oh boy. We got so bored watching this video Ava started taking pictures of her own feet. And since we were the only ones in the screening room, we felt bad to want to leave since the lady put the whole thing on just for us. After a few torturous minutes of watching the video, we could not stand it any more and just bailed out of the visitor center altogether.

shopping cart ride.

Our first full day at John Pennekamp started out with Ava throwing up in the Airstream and ended with us running out on a special screening of One Fish Two fish Red Fish Blue Fish. We decided that we should probably just salvage what we could out of our day and get out and do some grocery shopping instead. Hopefully tomorrow the winds will die down for us to enjoy a little time at the beach.

over and out,


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