Friday, April 21, 2017

Camping with Kids// Adventure Island Fun in Tampa, Florida

Happy Friday!! 
Let me say it again! 
HAPPY! FRIDAY!!! 

I love Friday in all it's end of week glory!! Babe and I were originally heading off to the Florida panhandle today for a weekend of camping a little further away than usual, since I don't have to work this Sunday, but y'all plans changed, because big things are happening. My best friend is moving away!! Far, far away!! To another state, away from me and this is her last weekend here! So I will be spending every last drop of time I can with her. Plus it should be noted that she is making my Disney dreams come true and we will be having a girls night at the Swan and Dolphin and sending her away in style. I am all kinds of excited for her and, given that I plan to visit her very soon after she moves, AND given that if I have anything to say about it we will be on the road, as full-time RVers, sooner rather than later, I am trying not to be so forlorn about her leaving. But given that the only time we have really ever spent apart was during our 4 (ok, 5) years of college this is going to take some adjusting, so to distract my little heart I figured it was time to share our most recent camping trip! 

A few weekends ago Babe and I actually took a camping trip of a much different caliber... camping with kids! 
We took my two nieces to Lazydays RV Resort, near Tampa, where we actually purchased Flo. They had given us two nights of free camping at their resort so we figured we would utilize it with the girls, since they have all the fun amenities like the pool and playground (and looking at RVs for sale)!! 

My youngest niece had been begging to take a trip in Flo (girl after my own heart) and so I told her we would take her and her girl cousin around her birthday. Y'all?! She was so stoked! Told everyone she could that she was doing that for her birthday, so the weekend before she turned 6 we loaded them up (with an early school release and all) and set out for big adventures!! 

While I would have been fine to have spent the weekend at a state park, enjoying hiking trails and nature at it's finest, it was actually really nice to be at Lazydays. With the site voucher it worked out well!! We got there midday Friday and spent the first hour or so exploring the RVs for sale over at the dealership (it's connected to the campground). Though this part had originally been for me, the girls LOVED it; going in and out of the RVs they wanted to see, hopping on and off the bunk beds! We then headed off to take a dip in the pool, which was really nice. It's screened in and heated, so the lingering April chill was nothing! Plus they had a hot tub for this tired Aunt Mel, not to mention an attached bar. I love the peace and quiet of a state park, but I could get use to hot tubs and margaritas!! Considering camping with kids is far louder than camping without them, it was definitely a nice treat!! 

Babe had decided we should do something a little extra special since it was also a birthday treat, so we looked up things to do in Tampa with kids and decided on Adventure Island (Busch Gardens water park). I will admit that I was a little hesitant. Being Orlando born and bred, anytime I go to a non-Disney water park I am usually sorely disappointed. This time was a far different story... 
This BBQ food truck was a great lunch option!! 
Adventure Island is AWESOME!! Seriously, I actually think I preferred it to any of the Disney water parks (and for this #DisneyFreak that's saying A LOT)! It was clean, well kept up and super great for kids and adults alike. We got there when the park opened and got a spot right away. It was really nice not having to fight over chairs! While the park did fill up around noon, we basically got on-and-off each slide for the first 2-3 hours. It was so much less crowded than the Disney parks (even once it seemed full) and it also didn't seem like such a trek just to get to the top of the slide. My favorite area (which is where had put our stuff originally) is right where you first walk in. There are 5 different slides, coming out of a waterfall structure, that all spill out into the same pool. The girls were able to go by themselves, if Babe and I wanted to take a minute to relax on the lounge chairs. The waterfall feature was really cool too! You can enter the slides through where the waterfall runs into the pool, making it feel like you are climbing a real waterfall. 

There were tons of other slides in the park- some newer and some my husband remembered from when he was a kid (his dad lives in the Tampa area)- so it was fun to get a mix of the original and more updated fun! I LOVED the toboggan ride they had! It was scary and full of fun for this adrenaline-loving heart of mine! I did it a handful of times, as I could not figure out how to skid all the way to the end without falling off. The last time (after coaching from Babe, "Lean forward all the way down, then lean back once you hit the water") I finally managed to stay on until I hit the end of the water. Mission accomplished!! 

One other super great perk of Adventure Island was that there were not many slides that both girls couldn't do; praise the Good Lord!! Makaylin (the youngest and birthday girl) was not too happy when she couldn't ride things her cousin could, but there were only about 2 slides she couldn't do. Some of the more intense slides simply required that the smaller kids either be with an adult or wear a life vest. If you have a kid (or ever take a kid) who loves to "do it all" you know what a relief this is!! She was able to do most of the things we all could do and we didn't have to worry as much about having her upset that she couldn't ride something. 

Adventure Island couldn't have been a better pick for our full day of fun on Saturday!! We shut the park down and headed back to the campground, where we actually spent even more time in our suits by taking another dip in the pool. 

While we made dinner the girls played Go-Fish and traipsed around the grounds. We then passed out in bed with tired bodies and happy hearts! Which was better than the first night, as we did have a little "snaffu" over the sleeping arrangements and one girl taking up too much room on the jack-knife-couch-turned-bed, so that we somehow all ended up in our not-completely-Queen-sized-bed during the first night. Given though how things can go when doing anything with kids I will say we came away pretty unscathed! 

I won't say which child took up all the room haha...
 she gets it naturally though y'all, it took me three years of marriage to stop sleeping sideways!
Now just imagine that, for at least an hour, there was also an Uncle Andrew in here! He didn't last long obviously! 

Sunday morning we woke up and made a pancake breakfast and then the anxiously awaited moment arrived... the girls getting to help dump the tank! You guys?! The amount of wonderment built up inside those two little girls about the idea of all their poo sitting under Flo, and the fact they were going to get to watch it get flushed out, was something that I can't really even describe. The first night, they literally had their heads inside the toilet trying to see if they could figure out where it went and we took a flashlight-lit field trip outside to explore the undercarriage of the trailer so that they could see the tank all of "it" was sitting in. Thankfully each spot had it's own septic spot, so that we weren't holding up a line of rigs waiting to dump while the girls "oohed and ahhhed" over the whole mess- literally! (Side note: the sites were really nice. They were paved, which kept Flo cleaner given the amount of feet trekking through her, and came with a picnic table) We then, sadly, loaded up and headed home. 

It made my soul so excited to see them loving the outdoors and getting so pumped about all things RV life!! When they said, "we love Flo! We want to live in Flo!" I simply replied "me too girls, me too!!" 

How about you? 
Ever been camping with kids? Any fun stories to share?

17 comments:

  1. That sounds like a lot of fun. Belated birthday wishes to the lil angel! The best part about camping with kids is that you too get to be a kid again!!

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    1. It was!, thanks! We had a great time :) And I couldn't agree with you more!

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  2. This looks like so much fun! To be able to go camping in Florida - wow what a treat. We've been to one Floridian island following a Disney trip and it was fabulous. The weather, the campsite, the water slides, the bbq lunch truck it all looks fantastic. #WanderfulWednesday

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    1. It really was great! Definitely a perk to living in the sunshine state, though soon finding a body of water anywhere will be our only relief from the brutal heat lol!

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  3. Considering that for non-Americans the only known water park in Florida is that of Disney, your post can make one really reconsider what to chose. I admire your courage in doing so much with the kids, it sounds exhausting even reading about it!

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    1. Haha, it was definitely more exhausting than a trip without them, but a whole lot of fun too!! It was worth the lost sleep zzzz

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  4. Made me remember my youth. We went on family camping trips all over the US every summer. Hauling a camper trailer behind us we stayed at State and National Parks everywhere. I think that is where I got my love of travel. Something the kids will always remember.

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    1. Awww what awesome memories! I have still not camped in a National Park yet (none really close to Orlando) and that is super high up on my list!

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  5. I love hanging out with my nieces. That sort of bonding time when they are kids is so crucial. Last week, my 13 year old niece informed me that I'm taking her to Tanzania. Love that.

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    1. Haha, I LOVE that! Tanzania would be quite the adventure and I love that she knows you are the one to come to for that sort of thing. I hope to be the aunt they think of as the "adventurous one"!

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  6. What a great alternative to Disney. Kids will enjoy themselves wherever they are and to do it without the crowds must be more enjoyable.
    I would have loved to have watched their faces as the poo was being dumped . Great learning curve for them.

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    1. It was quite a scene for sure! I had captured it on Instagram Story and it was hysterical and I wish I had thought to save those videos so that I had them too.

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  7. WOW! this is amazing! a great birthday wish to your lil angel! She looks beautiful :) I can see that you had also become kid with your kids! which is a great fun! WOW :)

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    1. We really were just like a couple of kids again ourselves!!

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  8. Reminds me of my childhood! We had a campervan and explored everywhere from the North Sea to Austria!

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  9. Haha. Such a funny story! Looks like the girls had a lot of fun!

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  10. This is so much fun and for sure the girls will not forget this ever. I can't wait to bring my nieces and nephews on a trip.

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