Bucket List Miami Weekend...

Happy Glorious Spring Weather Week! After the dreary cold of winter (I'm SO sure I have Seasonal Affective Disorder) I have finally begun to hear the birds chirping and actually visualize the grass peeking from under the melting snow. Several weeks ago, still in the depths of abysmal winter, Matt's brother Ben and his fiance Sofi mentioned that they had been wanting to have the girls over for the weekend to their new house. In no scenario in the history of the world would we decline this lovely offer, so we decided on a weekend. 

What should we do? Where should we go? We mulled over a few ideas ranging from bar-hopping in a neighboring city to actually hiding out at home and binge-watching Netflix with no child interruptions. Nothing was really making us super excited... my priority is always to fit a nap in but that couldn't be ALL we could do. When you have a child-free weekend placed in your lap, you want to make it a good one. March in this area can range from a blizzard to mid-seventies... and all we were craving was warmth. Enter: time to check off a bucket list item! The plan: head to the airport with essentially nothing, and fly somewhere then and there. 

I am a conflicted personality... think, equal parts planner yet fly by the seat of my pants type of girl. I love to go with the flow but structure can be heavenly. Pulling out a calendar to plan can actually give me hives, but checking things off my to-do list is a total rush (I actually make the task of doing laundry into four separate items. And I will also write something down that I already did just so I can cross it off). I love nice, expensive things but I always find the deal or sale to maximize my spending. I will go to the ends of the dark web to find a free shipping promo code. So this bucket list weekend was both challenging and exhilarating. 

Our requirements for the weekend were simple: 
1. Warmth.
2. A beach or pool to lie around all day.

3. Anything that allowed us to move as little as possible (aka, we needed our beverages served to us by said-beach/pool).
4. A nap.

Simple, right? 

In my bag was the following: a bathing suit, a cover-up, a dress, a pair of flip-flips, shorts and a tank top. I also brought minimal makeup and toiletries, my kindle, phone charger and undergarments. Oh and I did bring a hat, which may it rest in peace, because I somehow lost it. 

The only stuff I looked up prior to departure day was basically how to even go about it and the best sites to book last minute travel. Our original goal had been to show up at the airport and essentially go to the Southwest desk to find a flight. Considering this may make us appear like terrorists, particularly with our lack of luggage, we decided to book it on the drive in. I found an app called Skyscanner that allows you to search for the cheapest flights to everywhere leaving from your area. After trying to absorb the initial shock of how expensive flights are last-minute, we were able to find a non-stop Southwest flight at 11:45am to Fort Lauderdale. Within the time it took me to pull up the Southwest website to book it, the 11:45am had disappeared. Ugh. The 2:15pm it was, no big deal (the current time was 9:30am). Our thought was... we are together hanging out, we can eat and drink, who cares. We arrive at the airport, check-in and get settled in at a bar. Although we were flying to the Fort Lauderdale airport, both Matt and I have spent time there in the past. Since we wanted somewhere new, we figured Miami was perfect. After perusing hotels on my phone and not really getting anywhere, we decided to gamble yet again. The Priceline "Name your own price" is something we used once before when going to Vegas and we ended up with the MGM Grand. With such a positive past experience, why not do it again? Our goal was either oceanfront with drink service on the beach or if not oceanfront, just have a rockin' pool. With our meager requirements, we rolled the dice... and lost. Hotel Croydon is what we were assigned. At first glance it has great reviews and looks like an adorable boutique hotel a block away from the beach. At second glance, you will find the picture of a lackluster pool that just minutes before I had vetoed staying there because of it. 

Womp womp. I mean, it is teeny, shady, and inches away from the road. No thanks. 

Trying to stay positive, we (finally) headed to our gate. After boarding the completely full flight and getting settled in our seats, we get the dreaded announcement... hydraulic issues with the plane. A mechanic was on his way to check it out and we were supposed to "sit tight." After I had kids, I became an incredibly nervous flyer. Like near panic mode on take-off, alcohol-required, texts being sent off to family to take care of my beautiful girls who I am leaving motherless since this tin box surely won't make it kind of thing. I REALLY don't need to hear about potential issues and "fixing" them. Fortunately, (yet unfortunately), the plane could not be fixed so back to the gate it was. We end up being sent over to another gate where they have to read off passengers one-by-one and check IDs since they had taken our boarding passes already. Eek. A cluster, you could say. So we finally set off and land two hours later than planned, and Ubered our way to our hotel for a final arrival time of 7:45pm. 

Exhausted and hungry, we went to the hotel bar for the remaining minutes of their free (!!) happy hour and to get something to eat. Now I'm not sure if we were so pasty white that people thought we were ghosts and couldn't see us, but I have never had such a hard time getting the attention of a bartender in my life. The conversation with the two other patrons present must have been riveting. But seriously, I was a bartender once upon a time. It took 15 solid minutes and asking three other random workers to even get a menu. 

Frustrated, tired, and feeling like this may have been way more effort than it was worth, we headed up to our room (two double beds, of course) to collapse... and ended up laughing hysterically watching youtube videos of those hidden camera pranks from the Ellen show. When you are with your favorite person, watching paint dry can be fun. 

Thankfully the next two days took a serious upswing after we managed to latch onto beach service from the Marriott. 

One suggestion I give you all is that you should always ask how much your buckets of Corona are because they may turn out to be $8.00 per Corona and you have spent a small fortune before you know it. You're welcome. 

We also managed to just blend in with the Marriott guests and found an unlatched gate to get into the pool and hot tub area. Now if you know me, you will be epically shocked by these actions. I am a 100% rule follower. I wish I wasn't, but I just can't help the feeling of panic and fear when I know I'm not supposed to be doing something. Miami Steph took over and I marched right in without a second glance. 

Maybe since we are platinum Marriott rewards members (possibly due to my expensive taste) I figured we would be a-okay. In the Marriott hot tub is where we found out why every flight in the world was booked... that little thing known as college spring break. Maybe since I was never allowed to go on one, my mind just didn't even register. My most favorite moment occurred in that hot tub with those crazy young college kids. We were all sitting around and they turned to us and asked, "So what college are you guys down here from?" I very nearly spit out my drink. I know we don't look super old, but we most definitely don't look super young either. 

 They all seemed utterly shocked that we were from the College of No Kids Bucket List Weekend. It basically made my life. 

So other than the beach and the pool, we really didn't do much of anything. On Saturday night we contemplated going out to dinner but realized we didn't have appropriate footwear for the kind of dinner we wanted. We attempted room service which somehow our lovely hotel didn't offer despite the fact that it is on their website (I had words with the guy on the phone because he didn't believe me that it blatently said-so on their page... and you can tell how heated I really was by the sheer fact I picked up the phone. As a person who has a phobia of ordering carry-out, that is a really big deal). So Matt had to go down to the hotel restaurant and bring food up to our room. We then proceeded to watch some crime show that we always seem to find whenever we are out of town together. The big takeaway from this particular episode is if you are trying to hire someone to kill your husband, you probably shouldn't write the entire plan down on paper (misspellings included). 

Sunday flights back were quite limited... most left at 6am (not an option). I did find one non-stop at 8:35pm with Spirit Airlines. If you haven't heard of it, I recommend that you go back to that wonderful place of ignorance and never speak of it again. If you have heard of it, you may be able to commiserate with us on a truly bizarre, did these flight attendants fail out of everything else, why is my chair metal and my tray smaller than Matt's hand. 

This is a **small** Fiji bottle and it barely fit. I mean, what?

So if you have any desire to do what we did, or something along those lines, I have a few tips for you.

-Be aware when it is the time for college spring breaks, and don't go then. While the ones we met were lovely, in general they also created a little problem called "totally booked or ridiculously expensive flights and hotels." 

-Decide prior which route you are going to go... either really, truly don't care where you are staying and the amenities it offers OR be willing to pony up to make sure you get what you want/expect. 

-Have low expectations and know that even those can be lowered (yes, I'm talking no room service. I'm never getting over it). 

-Wear far more sunscreen than you can ever possibly imagine and reapply every 17 seconds if you going from pasty white to the Florida sun. I'm telling you, I had to wear leggings on Monday because everything.just.hurt... and I am one who typically tans easily. 

-Remember that everything, both good and bad, is a memory you are creating. 

So many people seem shocked (and think we are kinda crazy) about how much stuff Matt and I do together. We have unfortunately been both given a unique vantage point of marriage: We both lost our fathers while we were still teenagers and have watched our mothers weather the devastating reality of life without their soulmates. So many things are planned for the future, but what if you don't get the opportunity to have that future? You don't think it could ever happen to you until it does. We are acutely aware of tragedy and that there are no guarantees in life. With that experience and knowledge, I'd like to say we try to live in a way that reflects that. There's no better time than the present for SO much more than you could imagine. 

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