Sunshine and Smiles | Orlando FL


posted by Stelzl Family in Family Fun, Trips & Travels

Last day in FL! Following our fun outing to the beach on Friday evening, we drove another 2 1/2 hours to Orland and arrived late at our hotel. Wow… seeing the city after dark is pretty incredible! It’s been 15 years remember? And on that last trip when we were all so much younger we visited the Holy Land in Orlando.

The following morning we completed our trip home. But first… a stop at Wawa!


Wawa is a chain of gas stations that are only in a few states. We don’t have one anywhere near home. And while visiting PA over the years {before our grandfather’s passing in 2011} we discovered that this gas station has amazing coffee. In fact, we like to make it a special point to go there if we know there’s one along our route!

Now it’s a Stelzl family thing. Who will see it first? Who will shout “Wawa!” first when one comes into sight? It’s contagious… our uncle does it too, and a dear friend who often accompanied us to PA during the time that our grandfather was rapidly declining in health.

Wawa! :-)


We even came up with a fun saying, combining a series of gas station names that exist in the PA town my mom grew up in.

Scooty Getty Yum Yum at Wawa {those are all gas stations}!

How fun is that? 😉


So… we got Wawa coffees and then made the long trek home. :-)

What a trip! What a time spent together as family! What a blessing! :-)

We are so grateful for the experience we received at our Singer Island stay. This is something we never would have been able to do without the special offer given to us through Marriott. We are thankful for the time spent visiting with our grandparents, aunt and uncle… for the many fun places we visited and the activities we did. The new scenery, the fun foods, the fellowship and laughter… the pictures to remember it all by.

So very grateful for the gift of family, and the blessing of special memories made together.

Sunshine and Smiles | The Beach


posted by Stelzl Family in Family Fun, Trips & Travels

Off to the gulf! But first a fun stop at the Beach close to our aunt and uncle! We drove to a park that goes out to a point where there is a beach all around. Off in the distance we saw a huge bridge!



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And off to the gulf!


Sadly, there was very little sunset. We saw some pink through the clouds as we drove to dinner with our aunt and uncle. It was very cloudy, gray, cold and windy that day.

What a glorious day though! Fun times :-)

Part 7 | Orlando FL

Sunshine and Smiles | Bradenton FL


posted by Stelzl Family in Family Fun, Trips & Travels

Following our lovely stay at Singer Island for 4 days, we traveled to Bradenton FL to visit our aunt and uncle!

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They treated us to a delicious meal at the Cracker Barrel!!


From there we went to their home and took a tour of the garden area. They have no grass to mow! But they do have lovely tropical plants that grow oranges, lemons and bananas… star fruits, a kiwi vine, small mango tree, and more! We’ve never seen some of these things actually growing before. What fun!

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Our uncle saved these fruits so that we could pick them!

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Then we all went inside and tasted the starfruit… and our uncle made fresh lemonade!

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Mmmm! Good stuff! Fresh is always the best. And homegrown… Wow! :-)


Off to the Manatee viewing center! Lots of people come to this little place by the big factory. The factory warms the waters, attracting the Manatee. We were able to walk out on the overlook deck and see hundreds of them!

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We also went into the education room and learned a lot about manatee. There was a gift shop too!

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A little sisterly fun as well… 😉

And then… off to the FL gulf for sunset!

Part 6 | The Beach

Sunshine and Smiles | Singer Island 2


posted by Stelzl Family in Family Fun, Trips & Travels

Good Morning!


Isn’t it beautiful! We enjoyed many such mornings like this on Singer Island. Each and every sunrise was a little different. Such lovely colors!




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Mother and daughter <3

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Look at the sharks!! :-)


Part 5 | Bradenton FL


Sunshine and Smiles | Singer Island 1


posted by Stelzl Family in Family Fun, Trips & Travels

Over the bridge and across the water… welcome to Singer Island!

We arrived just after dark at our hotel. Wow! What a place! 15 stories up into the air {there were 20 stories altogether} we settled into the room and organized all our things, while a few went grocery shopping at the nearby store {for cooking all our meals throughout the week}.

The following morning we woke up to this lovely site! The bridge we crossed over to get to the island was to our left, and the beautiful ocean to our right.

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A view from the beach… That tall one to the left is where we stayed {we were 15 stories up all the way on the right side and back a few rooms}.


Our lovely little kitchen for the week. Mmmm… looks like that is the day we were having homemade Mac n’ Cheese. Yummy-ness! :-)

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There were 2 large pools {one was especially fun for little ones with a small slide and shallow depths of 3-4 feet. There were also 2 large hot tubs.

And… we played more than a few games of pool throughout the week. :-)

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Some of the girls brought books along {in prep for counseling and prison ministry} which they read by the pool on the last day – it was so windy that day, a few seemed in danger of blowing away. 😉

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David found a coconut floating in on the tide. We collected quite a few seashells.


This little guy enjoyed the pool quite a bit… especially on the last day when the wind was so strong we got sand-blasted walking the beach. Ouch!


Carter played a few games of pool with us.  We enjoyed having him on our team. :-)


A couple of the guys, enjoying lunch on our little deck, overlooking the ocean.


We saw quite a few of these birds… some of them were picking at several large dead fish that had washed up on the beach. Gross, but fascinating 😉 …


Help! I’m washing out to sea! :-)


A sisterly walk one morning… there were a few guys out surfing some of the larger waves down near a beautiful reef  just off the beach. There were some adorable little ones building sandcastles too. :-)


Bethany and David rowing out to sea 😉 in a little boat we rented for the day. Fun! The boat flipped, and dozens of sharks were swimming all around. Someone later told us that it was migrating season and that they are not aggressive right now. Still… we were all more careful that!


We saw many ships like this one, day and night! It was especially fun to look at them through binoculars from the deck of our apartment. At night they are all lit up.

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The rocky shore, down where the reef is. The waves here were much more rough. We took quite a few walks down this way.


Soaking up sunshine :-)



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These lovely little purple flowers were growing by the walkway from the beach to the hotel.

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Admiring the seashells they collected …

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Warming up in the hot tub. The last day was especially cool and very windy! The sand would blow across the beach and sting our arms and legs. With the exception of a beautiful morning sunrise and some walks along the beach, we enjoyed the pool, hot tub, and some other fun games that day.

Pictures of all the lovely morning sunrises coming next!

Part 4 | Singer Island 2