XO-LP // Laura Palmer


Love Letters to a New Year.

FL Geography and Sunnymoonin' tips.

Dear 30,

The sunnymooners have returned. One of us has a tan.

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We hit quite a few dots on the FL map. (Handy map featured below) In this first of a three part trip wrap up, I'll lay out some highlights and real life tips. You know, in case you want to hit the Sunnymooner's hot spots on your very own road trip. BONUS: Kevin will weigh in too. I know. Exciting. #Guestopinion

Rental cars with blind spots.

When planning (by planning I mean the 3 minute gchat we had that basically plotted a flight, a car and a first destination) the sunnymoon we knew a road trip style seven days was a the way to go. We plotted a car rental and went with Hertz. My former life on the road pushed me to gold status (woop) and allowed me the opportunity to say, for the first time:

"no we're not married, but we're planning to be. Oh, I should say we got engaged. We're actually here celebrating that. I know. I shouldn't be gushing on like this I'm just so excited. He's here somewhere, ran to get the rest of the luggage. But he's not my husband, yet. AH. That's so fun to say. He does live with me, yes. But again, we're not married, yet. Eeek. Oh. Ok. But doesn't he need to be an additional approved driver?"

Needless to say we were punished for this rant with a silver Dodge Avenger with more blind spots than me without my glasses. It wasn't an ideal ride, but it worked and got some pretty great gas mileage as we traversed the 822+ miles of Florida roadways. (Kevin says: "Don't buy a Dodge Avenger.")

Route it out.

Florida was a relatively unexplored state as a duo. I've been more times than I thought (a beautiful wedding in February, several trips in college to see the Don and an American Idol concert, plus a couple visits to Disney… I'm spoiled) but our goal was to go to the water and find the sun and fishes. Consult the handy map below to identify Florida's neighboring bodies of water. 

Our key to roadtrip excitement was a circular route that meant new scenery. We plotted a basic travel plan: PIE to Sarasota to Islamorada and eventually back to PIE. We stopped when we felt like it and drove past all kinds of airboat ride signs and used a Florida map rather than relying solely on the iPhone GPS. Don't use the map below for your Sunnymoon route, ok? Our goal was to hit low key, relaxed spots with character. Kyle and Emily provided our favorite accommodations and the best of Steely Dan Pandora, but we also loved the Drop Anchor Resort in Islamorada and the Thunderbird on Treasure Island. 

(Kevin says: "[we] loved the old hotels and took a vacation a Midwesterner would have taken in the 50's or 60's and stated in those same hotels.")

Clouds can be a real beach.

No sun, no fun? Not on the Sunnymoon. Despite "sun" being in the vacation hashtag, it was not ever-present this trip. We caught some rain in the Keys and filled up at a gas station that was surrounded by a temporary moat. We scoped a sunset through the clouds on several evenings. Here's what we learned: calling your vacation a sunnymoon does not guarantee a week of sun drenched beach days. So a few fishing trips were cancelled (this was sad, for sure) but we got to meet Bob at a place called Crazy Billy's and see just how tan a former medical supply salesman's legs can get. No sun ≠ no fun.

(Kevin says: "Everyone said that it's just like that in the summer. It felt like it was going to storm most of the time but only did for a few hours.")

Key accessories for the sunnymooner.

A few final tips. Because I'm full of advice in this super post. 

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  • Bring that cord that has a headphone plug on both ends. I have no idea what they call it, but even the blind spot ridden Avenger had the jack it fit in. Which means we could listen to This American Life while we drove through the Everglades. (both times.)
  • Kevin says: "lots of water." He's right. I was so thirsty. Like all the time. 
  • Postcards + stamps-- you never know when you'll drive by the nation's smallest post office and want to stop in Ochopee to help some Germans take a photo and mail yourself a pineapple postcard. (Want to send yourself a pineapple postcard? You can too.)
  • Pack The Black Keys' new album. (Kevin says: "four stars") I say "we'll only listen to the Keys in the Keys."
  • Polarized sunglasses for spotting the fishes are a must. Unless your outdoor eyes are on point, you'll need them to combat the glare and spot the stingrays. 

So much information to soak up. And so many pictures of me in casual wear. In part two of the sunnymoon wrap up you'll see snapshots of a key deer and the long awaited return of Wild Hansen. It's cool to be excited. I know I am.