Six days this past September I basked in the beauty that is Clearwater Beach, Florida. I vacationed with my friends Lydia, Shannon and Kelsey. And while I have so many pictures and stories from our trip I didn’t want to be that annoying person on Facebook posting 67 photos per day of my vacation. So here’s the highlight reel!
Story #1: Airport Security
One of the most memorable parts of our trip happened before we even got on our flight to Florida. After spending the night in a sketchy motel in Chicago we woke up and caught a 4:30am shuttle to the airport. We waited less than 5 minutes in the security line before we made it to the front. Shannon brought up the rear of our little group and she threw her pink suitcase onto the conveyer belt with about as much gusto as one can muster at five in the morning. Safely on the other side of security the three of us watched as Shannon’s bag was stopped and examined in detail by the TSA agent watching the screen. Moments later another TSA agent came over to take a look, then they pulled Shannon and her bag off to the side. I assumed it was a random check, or they couldn’t figure out what something was. As we waited we joked about what could be in her bag, probably a bottle of face wash or some tweezers. Another agent joked with us “you girls trying to get your friend in trouble?” we all laughed and Lydia said “Yeah, we set her up!” Seconds later we watched as the TSA agent pulled a six inch serrated knife out of Shannon’s suitcase, and we stopped laughing. Shannon’s face went white, all our faces probably did, and we saw her explaining something to the agent. He took the knife away and Shannon hurriedly stuffed all her belongings back in her suitcase and rushed over to us. “My Mom left a knife in my beach bag!” she exclaimed as we walked away from security. Apparently her Mom had sent one of their old bread knives back with Shannon after a visit home. But, she was concerned about it cutting up Shannon’s clothes in her bag so she put it inside the beach bag. Shannon forgot it was in there and the first thing she packed into the bottom of her luggage was, you guessed it, her beach bag. Once the shock wore off we were all relieved and laughed about it, but a big part of me kept thinking about what would have happened if this didn’t occur in a group of small giggling white girls? Would someone who looked differently be let off as easy as Shannon was? But that’s a thought for another time. Safe to say, we will be giving Shannon a hard time about the incident for years to come!
Look – we made it on the airplane! No knives!
We made it to our hotel a little before 3 o’clock and we spent the rest of the day exploring, buying sunscreen and water in bulk, and enjoying the views from our hotel’s rooftop bar.
I love snapping candid pictures of my friends, and they usually hate it. But when they turn out this good I think they secretly like it.
Day two was a full day of beach walking, lounging, sand volleyball and naps. Now, here is where I’m going to be vulnerable and tell you a story that makes me look really stupid. Take it easy on me, kay?
Story #2: The Sunburn
Before we even got to Florida I had already fully committed to wearing sunscreen the ENTIRE time I was there. I was ready to apply and re-apply all day, I was NOT going to be the obvious tourist who was sunburned and in constant pain because they were stupid and didn’t wear sunscreen. Ha.
I swear the sun in Florida has got to be ten times stronger (someone back me up on this) because I was on the beach for 3 and a half hours, applied sunscreen twice, and got burned to a crisp. A CRISP! MY BODY WAS A BURNED SWEET POTATO CHIP. The following image may cause wincing. (Apologies for the insinuated swearing, I was in pain and also very angry with myself).
Yup, and that’s only the side of my leg/body. The burned area was mostly my butt/thighs, stomach, chest, forehead, back, upper arms. So basically between my knees and elbows I was a lobster. I pretty much spent the rest of the vacation in a rash guard and shorts to cover up the worst of it, which worked pretty well.
Lydia also got sunburned but it wasn’t quite as bad as mine. Still, we probably spent hours every day slathering ourselves in sunscreen and aloe. My body has never been so moisturized, it was probably confused as hell. Overall, it was memorable and kind of hilarious (albeit extremely painful) because Lydia and I were constantly scream laughing whenever we had to move around or remove clothing.
Moral of the story: if you’re white and going on your first beach vacay, BATHE IN SUNSCREEN.
Here’s a cutesy picture of me from later in the day – don’t look too hard or you’ll see my forehead is actually the color of a stop sign.
Minus the sunburn (that eventually turned to a tan) the next few days were wonderful. We walked on the beach for around an hour every morning, lounged by the pool or the Ocean and played sand volleyball in the afternoon, and checked out different restaurants and the pier nightlife in the evening. The Pier in Clearwater always had something going on! Street performers, outdoor movies, vendors selling home made jewelry, there was always something to do.
Artistic photo of our feet, exciting stuff
The view from our balcony was pretty sweet!
There’s my trusty rash guard and shorts outfit, sun protection is key
Palm trees are cool
In case you were wondering why no one else got sunburned – see above. I thought I was looking really tan! Then I took a picture with Kelsey…..
Sunset was our favorite time of day. We split our sunsets between the rooftop at our hotel, where they served free sunset shots, and the beach. At our hotel we would arrive about a half an hour before sunset to ensure a good spot, and the bartenders would come around and hand out shots of rum and punch. A few minutes later they would ring a bell and everyone would shout “Happy Sunset!” and take their shots!
Other nights we would walk over to the beach and sit on the sand watching the sun go down. There is something so peaceful about watching the sun dip down behind the ocean. A reminder that there is always a new tomorrow.
Shout out to myself for these adorable sister pictures of Shan and KelsLydia hates this picture, but I love it!
Story #3: The Pirate Cruise
Since our hotel room had a great view of the marina we got to watch a lot of boats and jet skis going in and out. One of the more unique ones we saw was a pirate ship, every night it came back blaring music and people stumbled off in pirate hats and drawn-on mustaches. We were intrigued! Who doesn’t want a fake mustache?! So we booked our pirate ship tour and we were not disappointed. All you can drink, great music, and pirate costumes? That’s a good combo. We got our mustaches, shook our booty’s to Who Let the Dogs Out (talk about a throwback), Lydia flirted with the first mate, and somehow we ended the night doing the cupid shuffle on the main deck surrounded by people dressed as pirates.
That’s Lydia, Shannon, and Mad-Dog-Mac.
Did I mention we also got to watch the sunset from a pirate ship in the ocean? Good times .
We spent our last day like we had the rest of them, beach lounging, sand volleyball with strangers who became friends, and watching the sun go down.
I’m going to end this post with my favorite picture from the trip. Thanks for reading this far, you’re the best! I hope this inspires you to book a vacation that will give you memories to last forever! Please just wear sunscreen though, seriously, like SPF 700.