Wednesday, October 22, 2008

mystery getaway destination revealed!

Thanks for your patience while waiting for the reveal of my mystery getaway, I had planned to blog about it earlier.....Sal and I are back home now from visiting his family; Pasquale is still in a critical period of recovery.

OK, so Where In The World? did Sal take me for a special birthday getaway weekend?

On Saturday, we drove to my parents' house in the Tampa Bay area, where my family and some of my longtime friends had gathered for a surprise party! WOO HOO

I walked in to see decorations (including personalized balloons in a gorgeous teal color), a big spread of food (all yummy veggie-friendly Mediterranean stuff!), a birthday cake, gifts, and my wonderful friends JoAnn (pictured with me, below) and Milton! It had been a long time since I had seen them, and I was so stunned to see their faces that it took a few seconds to register in my mind! I've known JoAnn for 23 years, she and I worked together at my first job at a department store back when I started college.

And Milton and I have known each other for over 20 years, and he was the Best Man at our wedding 18+ years ago. How fabulous to have them with me to celebrate my milestone 40th birthday! We all had fun chatting, laughing, reminiscing, and....eating!

Milton, my Dad & me:

Me, my Mom, and my sister's husband, Heince:

from left: me, JoAnn, my sister Theresa, and Milton:

And as I opened gifts, someone caught my reaction on I'm just realizing what Sal had in store for the weekend:

The fun and surprises continued after the party when we drove to Orlando! Sal took me to Discovery Cove on Sunday. What a fabulous park! It's operated by SeaWorld (and is right across the street from it), and is a tropical paradise full of fun. They allow only 900 people into the park each day, so it never felt crowded. We swam with a dolphin named Cindy and had a lot of one-on-one time with her.

They allow only tiny groups at a time to interact with a dolphin and a trainer, so you really get up-close-and-personal with these magnificent creatures (the dolphins, that is, not the trainers, ha ha!). It was so special to touch her smooth (and warm!) skin, look into her soft eyes, and to hug and kiss her too! (I appreciated that they provided a wetsuit because the water was about 70 or 75 degrees F, brrr).

She was 9 feet long, and weighed 550 pounds. That perpetual dolphin "smile" on their faces is deceiving, they're so powerful.

But apparently Sal wasn't finished surprising me! He had arranged with the Discovery Cove staff for Cindy to give me yet another birthday surprise! The trainer told our group that Cindy was going to the other end of the lagoon to get her favorite toy, and he "volunteered me" to step to the front of the group so that she could bring it back to me. I was thrilled, but thought that I was chosen completely at random and suspected nothing! So then Cindy pops up out of the water right in front of me with a toy in her mouth that had been personalized to read "Happy Birthday Susan! Love, Sal". OH. MY. GOSH. !!! I was SO stunned! You can see the surprise all over my face in the photos:

I'll never forget it! Sal, you sure got me! Even Cindy seemed to be happy about it!

Discovery Cove is absolutely beautiful, with lush tropical foliage everywhere, so very Florida.....loved it! And the weather was spectacular that day, so fortunate. Not a cloud in the sunny blue sky. Perfect.

The fun was to continue on Monday, with a day at SeaWorld. But, as I mentioned in an earlier post, Sal's Mom called to say that his Dad was unfortunately doing worse, so we felt that it was only appropriate to get to the hospital to be with Sal's family on Sunday. So, we canceled the final part of our trip. SeaWorld has kindly extended the dates of our tickets, so we plan to go back to Orlando sometime in 2009 and continue the celebration. Can't wait to go to their manatee rehabilitation center!

So thanks for sharing the excitement of my fun surprise getaway! I hope you enjoyed all of the surprises as much as I did!

And a BIG special thanks to Sal, my sweetheart, for all of your planning and thoughtfulness! I felt like a princess and really enjoyed all of the surprises! My 40th has been extra special! Love you! XOXOXO


Shannon said...

Oh Sal did such a wonderful job....he is definitely a keeper.....aren't swimming with the dolphins the most awesome thing is amazing how much power they have in their bodies.

Claudia said...

That is awesome that Sal did all that to surprise you...what a man! I'm so glad you enjoyed such a wonderful time and Happy 40th Birthday!! I would love to be that close to a dolphin someday...they seem like such sweet (yet powerful as you said) animals:)