I wrote about our Miami trip as we went along (good use of the unexpected car time!), so I’m going to share about it like journal entries from each day we were there. From snow to sand we go!
Monday, Dec. 26
When we left the house at 5:30 am to allow plenty of time for our 9:30 am flight, snow was falling. That made our roads that hadn’t recovered from Thursday’s ice and subsequent freezing temperatures even worse. Interstate 24 was not great but did have one lane mostly cleared.
Along the way, we learned our flight was delayed and then canceled. We arrived at the Nashville airport a little less than 3 hours later and got in a very long “rebooking” line. Greg tried to book with another airline or rent a car so we could drive down and still fly home Friday. But nothing was available. I inched forward in line for 2+ hours when we decided to leave. I honestly was saying & thinking, “Let’s go eat and then go home.” We ended up eating and then driving … toward Miami.
We stopped near Chattanooga in the midst of traffic and I had to wait in a line of at least 10 people deep to use the bathroom. But we got some snacks and continued on.
You can Google the meltdown Southwest has had this weekend and today. I definitely was frustrated we got stuck in the midst of the airline’s issues. But we certainly weren’t the only ones. And I still can’t through on the phone to get a refund for the flight Southwest canceled. Eventually, surely, I won’t get a busy signal.
(EDITED to add: We got the refund initiated on Thursday night, after I called an obscure “lost baggage” number buried on the website. Southwest sent me notifications to check in for my flight on Friday evening, but, of course, we had to cancel that one because now we had a mini van in Miami! We have since received a full refund to our credit card.)
I know traveling is a privilege and something we get to enjoy. We are going to Miami because this is Christmas with my siblings, their families, and our mom. We decided to go somewhere warm instead of exchanging gifts — and I’m still totally on board with that plan! My sister called between the airport and food when I still thought we should head home. But her encouragement came right when I needed it. I think I was having trouble mentally transitioning from the peace of the last few days to the chaos around me.
We stopped for dinner at a Mexican restaurant south of Atlanta and we are going to drive some more tonight and stop for some sleep somewhere in Florida.
I hear Key Lime Pie and sunshine calling my name. That’s my plan for tomorrow with my family, so we’ll see how that goes.
Tuesday, Dec 27
My kids have been troopers. Seriously. They’ve been kind and patient. Ben even found Sour Patch Kid socks at a gas station yesterday — he’s into tall, fun socks and loves to eat Sour Patch Kids.
We made it to Miami right at 24 hours later than we originally planned. Better late than never, I suppose.
We met my family at Black Point Ocean Grill and had a good lunch. Then we went on a boat tour that was really interesting, especially about celebrities’ homes on Star Island. The way Miami sits on so much water really is beautiful.
We ordered pizza from Steve’s Pizza and hung out at our rental house’s lovely outdoor area. The kids swam, played basketball and pool, and climbed on the swing set. Cassie and Zac brought a Solo Stove (actually an off-brand one that they like better!) and we enjoyed the evening together.
Gathering together with my siblings is always fun. Our kids get along well and enjoy being together. The house we rented was in Cutler Bay, which was nice so we could do various things in South Florida. The interior of the house was odd and not great, but the outside area was awesome!
Wednesday, Dec 28
We went to the Everglades Safari Park and did an airboat tour, which was awesome! We saw several alligators and birds. It was such a neat way to see a tiny portion of Everglades National Park. Multiple people in my family consider this a highlight – and it was for sure!
Then we went to Top Golf for a late lunch and entertainment. It was my first time there, and although I’m not into golfing, it was a fun experience.
Thursday, Dec 29
We headed even further south to Key Largo, where we spent some time at John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park, where we went on a two-hour boat tour. We learned a lot about mangrove trees, went through some channels in the Key Largo Sound, and saw dolphins in the Atlantic Ocean. Then we had the best meal of our trip! Delicious food and a sunset view at Jimmy Johnson’s Big Chill were for sure a highlight. The key lime pie was the wait.
Friday, Dec 30
When in Florida, a beach is necessary, so we ventured through traffic to Miami Beach. The streets leading to the sand were upscale and colorful – just what I imagined Miami to be. The beach itself reminded me of lots of other beaches, although they had the cutest, most colorful lifeguard huts.
We had lunch at Big Pink, which was delicious and had the biggest wraps, burgers, sandwiches, and chicken and waffles … basically everything everyone at our table ordered was huge.
My crew decided to hit the road this afternoon with full bellies and good memories. Once we arrived, the trip really was smooth. The greater Miami area has so many different things to do – beaches, everglades, seafood, big city things, Key Largo, and boat rides.
Thankfully, the trip home was less chaotic than the trip south. And I got to lunch with my cousin-friend Mary, her kids, and my uncle Tom just north of Atlanta on our way home.
Happy New Year to us!
EDITED 1/11/23 to add: I wanted to give Southwest Airlines a shout-out because its people did what they could to make it right after the fact.
We got a full refund for the flights back to our credit card, were surprised with 25,000 reward points each, and have reimbursement for our alternative travel (hotels there and back, fuel, and food there and back) coming.
Plus this week I booked Southwest flights for our Spring Break trip.