It's Independence Day and what better way to spend it than on a plane? Kidding, but not about the traveling part. We're on our way to Florida for the holiday weekend and I'm super stoked to see the whole family.
It's been over a year since we have all been together and I can't wait for us to all be under the same roof again. I especially miss my grandma and papa who currently live in Kansas. I can tell my grandma has been pretty lonely—which is devastating because she had always been the glue of the family. Whether it was holidays or dinner parties, we always met at grandmas & papa's house in Montclair, VA.
It was just, me, my mom and Jayson traveling because Joe has to leave a day early to get back for work, so he is leaving from a different airport. Jayson was a little nervous to fly, so he sat in between my mom and I for comfort. Once we landed, we picked up our rental car which ended up being a minivan. I thought it was hysterical to see my mom drive it because she is the farthest thing from a "minivan mom".
We timed our flights just right so we arrived around the same time as my grandparents and we were able to greet them at the baggage claim and help them with their luggage. Words cannot describe the joy that overcame my grandma's face when she saw us. I could tell that she had been looking forward to this for a long time. Once everyone had their bags, we met mom outside, piled into the van and began the 15 minute trek to my Aunt and Uncle's house in Hollywood, FL.
We arrived to Amy cooking a big meal in the kitchen and Uncle Ronnie working on his computer. There were plenty of hugs, kisses and greetings when we entered but the energy eventually came down to a normal level as the novelty started to fade. I was pleased to find that my aunt, uncle and two cousins, Isabella and Clara, had adopted two cats since we had been there last.
They're a brother and sister duo and were so bonded that they needed to be taken in together. The boy cat is shy so he was hiding, but I managed to snag a photo of the girl, who was a little less timid. After about 15 to 20 minutes, Amy announced that the food was ready so we gathered around the table for a delicious lunch. It's actually quite funny because their dining room table is actually a conference room table that my uncle was able to salvage from a previous company's office move. Like, there's literally a USB port and plug in the center of the table and the chairs are the office chairs that swivel. Hilarious.
After lunch, we were stuffed and feeling lazy so we spent the next few hours lounging around and killing time until it started to get closer to the evening. Joe had arrived during this time as well. Once 5:00 rolled around he announced it would be a good time for us to head over to the hotel that we would be staying at for the evening, which my parents had booked with their Marriott points. They had selected an oceanfront hotel, overlooking Hollywood beach where the fireworks show would happen.
My grandparents would be staying with my aunt and uncle, but they followed behind us in their car so we could all arrive together and hang out on the boardwalk until it got dark. Getting to the hotel was a literal nightmare. There was so much traffic due to closed streets that it took us literally 45 minutes to travel half a mile. Police were up and down the road and had even blocked off the street that we were supposed to turn down, but let us through once they knew we were hotel guests. We checked in and spent about 10 minutes getting ready before heading out to the boardwalk to take a nice stroll along the beach and grab some drinks
It didn't take long for us to find an outdoor bar and we grabbed some glasses of wine and beers for our stroll down the boardwalk. It wasn't until the next day we found out we technically weren't supposed to be drinking with open containers along the beach, but we passed by herds of police men without receiving any warning, so I guess they really didn't care much. They were probably keeping their eye out for troublemakers and "Florida Man".
Our walk was easy, breezy, and beautiful (cover girl) as we strolled along, watching the sun sink into the water. There were a ton of people still out on the beach, both in the water and out. I loved seeing all of the tents popped up in the sand where large families and groups of friends had set up a picnics and food buffets for the holiday celebration. Music was playing, dogs were walking, bikes were riding. It was pure merriment and everyone was feeling the festivities.
After two rounds of drinks and a long stroll down and back, we collectively decided to head back to the hotel and get some food. Wait times everywhere were unreal so we decided to order a couple of pizzas and hangout in my parent's room where their balcony overlooked the beach.
To our dismay, we arrived in the room to find that the balcony door had been SCREWED SHUT. There was no prying this thing open. Next to the nail was a sign that read something along the lines of "balcony off limits to guests due to fresh paint". After a call to maintenance and pleading with the guy to open it just for the fireworks, we were back in business. Jorge really saved the day. Thanks Jorge.
Night had fallen at this point and we couldn't see much of the water in the darkness. It was getting close to showtime and we all couldn't wait to experience the fourth of July from a balcony instead of the ground. We sat and enjoyed the pizza while catching up with each other and goofing around. Man I've really missed my family. The best part was that we were all in good spirits and no one was fighting. Typically my mom and I are the ones to stir up drama but even we had been getting along perfectly since our mother/daughter Bahamas trip.
Finally, the moment we had been all waiting for arrived with a flash of color followed by a loud boom. We all scurried out onto the balcony where our eyes would feast on the most dazzling display of fire we'd ever seen (in my opinion). Having the aerial view put the fireworks right in view and they lit up the entire sky, reflecting off of the ocean. The entire stretch of boardwalk glowed as the fireworks continued in rapid succession, each launch more spectacular than the last. I took photos and a video which I plan to edit a little bit later, but I figured I'd at least share a gallery of photos now.
Again, hands down, this was the best fireworks show I had ever seen. If you ever have a chance to witness the fireworks display at Hollywood Beach, I would highly recommend it. Where did you guys watch the fireworks this year? What's been the most extraordinary fireworks show you've ever seen? Would love to hear!