Push Away the Screen: Deep Sea Fishing with Hubbard's Marina

Recently my family celebrated my husband's birthday. We took this opportunity to #pushawaythescreen and do something with the trio that we have been waiting YEARS to do. Take them deep sea fishing.

The sea is a very special place for both James and me. I grew up pretty much living on the Gulf of Mexico, spent my summers at Mote Marine Laboratory, went to college and earned a degree in Marine Biology, worked with Mote Marine Aquarium developing their educational curriculum, worked with top shark biologists on their boats collecting data, and the list just goes on and on. James and I both use the sea as a place to recharge our batteries. To feel connected with Mother Nature, and with each other. In fact, our first date was to the beach.

We've taken our trio fishing to the Skyway Pier and out in our backyard lake, and my Uncle Bobby has taken Ronin out on the bay in Venice, but we've never had the opportunity to take all 3 of them out, way out, fishing.

This is where Hubbard's Marina comes in. I contacted Hubbard's and inquired about fishing trip options. James originally wanted to take the kids for a 12 hour trip. Say what? I pretty much vetoed that, and Hubbard's agreed that for a first time trip, a 1/2 day option was probably our best bet! Not only that but they supplied all the tackle, rods, reel and bait! All we had to do was show up!

We scheduled our trip for a Saturday, leaving the dock at 1pm. Coming from a fishing background I was a bit hesitant that 1pm would be a good time to fish. It just gets so hot, for both the fish and the fishers! But I was assured that the fish would be biting, and that they had an AC galley if anyone needed to cool off!

Everyone was gathered in a waiting area where Ella and Ronin were picked to be the official helpers. They passed out arm bands Smile

We also went over some rules. Did you know that BANANAS are not allowed on fishing boats?? In all my years on boats, I had never heard the banana story before. And wouldn't you know it...I had bananas with me. And beer. And I wasn't allowed to bring my own beer on board either. That's seriously all I had in my cooler. Beer and bananas. Well, and water, grapes and Pringles, but I wasn't going to drag along a 30 gallon cooler just for water. So I took out the water, and rolled my cooler back to the truck.

We boarded the boat, and off we went! Ronin and I headed up stairs (where we were ALONE!!) while James and the girls remained downstairs with everyone else. Wink

Ronin and I had a good time upstairs on the 90 minute or so ride out. Who do you think was the first person to spot dolphins riding and playing in our wake? Yes, ME!

Those beautiful mammals kept us entertained for at least 5 minutes. But the fun was far from over!!

Ronin went and knocked on the captains door and asked if he could come in. Much to my surprise, and to Ronin's delight, the captain said YES!! And he also offered Ronin the opportunity to pilot the boat!

The girls also had their chance, and true to their form, they shared the piloting duties.

But that wasn't all!! Ronin asked if he could use the microphone to wish his daddy a Happy Birthday! Well, first he asked if he could say FREE SNACKS like he did on Jet Blue airlines, but we quickly nipped that idea in the bud! Tongue Out Ella and Ronin each got the opportunity to speak on the mic and they loved it!

The kids loved the ride out to the fishing grounds! Haley went to the front of the boat, put her hands up and yelled "I'm the Queen of this boat." She's such my daughter! Best part...she had NO IDEA I was behind her! Wink

We made it to our destination! We'd be drift fishing which meant we'd just go with the current. It was a very calm day, so we had to move locations a few times, but overall we did very well! Our family caught a total of 12 "keepers" and several that we had to throw back including 2 Red Groupers. I was so hoping for a grouper for dinner. Next time!

James caught the biggest and most unexpected catch of the day! A Spanish Mackerel!

I just love the genuine smiles on all their faces. It made me so happy to see them having so much fun!!

Ronin loved fishing, though the waiting for a fish to bite was difficult for him, but he made friends with the captain and the deck hands, and they made sure he was pretty much always reeling in a fish.



I managed to catch a few myself!

Our time off-shore ended too quickly and we began our trek back to the dock! It was late (past 7pm) by the time we got back to the dock and we were starving! Lucky for us, the Friendly Fisherman restaurant will cook your catch for you! So that's exactly what we did! We had our fish cleaned at the dock, then took them upstairs for dinner! It does not get any fresher than that!

Was there anything I didn't like about the trip? Only one thing. They allowed smoking on the boat. It really sucks when you can't escape from the smokers. That really bothered me and my family. It seemed that everywhere we moved, someone was lighting up a cigarette. Other than that, it was a GREAT day and I would go back in a heartbeat!

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Have you ever heard of the bad luck banana??
Would you like to catch your own dinner?? What's your favorite type of fish to eat??

Birthday Bucket List

42. I am going to be 42. How did this happen?? It has all gone by so fast.

I know I'm not the only one who wonders how this happened so quickly.

Comparing 42, to 32, or heck even 22, I'll take 42 ANY DAY! I am in such a better place in my life. I'm in better health, my kids are older and becoming more independent. I'm married to the same man I was at 32 (though a different man than when I was 22...confession, yes I've been married before.)

Since I'm new to the blogging world I've never published my bucket list before. I'm proud to be able to cross some items off this year!

1. Live on the beach with my husband and kids (I grew up on the beach and want to move back!!)

2. Start CrossFit

3. Visit my family in North Carolina

4. Travel to the Grand Canyon

5. Travel to NYC

6. Dive with Great White Sharks in South Africa (actually anywhere, but since this is a bucket list, I'll go with where the sharks are the biggest!!)

7. Do a Half-Ironman

8. Do a Full-Ironman

9. Run a 1/2 marathon

10. Run a full marathon

11. Attend Fit Bloggin' (this is new to my bucket list!!)

12. Travel to the Giant Redwoods

13. Publish a book (the traditional way, no self-published ebook)

14. Travel with my family to Europe (I've been alone twice, but want to go with kids!)

15. Do a triathlon Not only did I do one, I placed 2nd in my AG :)

16. Attend Comic Con International in California

17. Attend Comic Con in NYC

18. Get another tatoo

19. Start training Competition CrossFit

20. Participate in a CrossFit competition  DONE! Did it 10/12/13

21. Get certified in Spinning

22. Participate in a 12+ hour adventure/endurance challenge

23. Do an unassisted pull-up

24. Find a job where I can make as much money as my husband (seriously how frustrating is it that I have more advanced degrees than him, and he makes 4X what I can make....)

25. Take a Disney Cruise

26. Have a post/video go viral!!

27. SCUBA dive the Great Barrier Reef

28. SCUBA dive in Belize

29. Travel to Sweden with my husband (NO KIDS!!)

30. Take a vacation ALONE with my husband DONE!! We went to San Diego for a week in 2011!!

31. Get a dog DONE!! We adopted Matthew in January 2013

32. Take my kids apple picking

33. Be on a talk show DONE!! Multiple times!!

34. Be on a game show

35. Learn to play chess

36. Travel to Las Vegas

37. Be on the cover of a magazine (so close...made it in Woman's Day, but not the cover!!)

38. Go on a hot air balloon ride

39. Go white water rafting

40. Go to a Superbowl

41. Party at Burning Man

........and that's where I'll stop. 41 items for 41 years of life. I hope that I can look back next year and cross off some of these bucket list items!!

What's on your bucket list??



Push Away the Screen at Tradewinds Resort

 The kids and I had the opportunity to spend an amazing fun filled day at Tradewinds Resort on beautiful St. Pete Beach. I grew up on the Gulf Coast, attended college only a few miles from this resort, yet I had never been!!

Driving in to the resort was beautiful and I knew we were in for a special treat!! We checked in with their PR Dept and were given a special tote bag with a Tradewinds towel, and a stuffed BEAKER, the Tradewinds pelican mascot. We were each given a wristband that gave us access to all the amenities the resort had to offer; 7 Pools (including 2 adult ONLY), 3 Whirlpools, Splash Island Water Park, High Tide Water Slide, Beach Cabanas, Poolside Invasion (where I was the female swim winner during the adult race!!), Paddleboats, Mini Golf, Bungee Trampoline, Stand Up Paddle Boarding, and MORE! I also learned at check-in that Tradewinds is a certified Autism friendly resort. I honestly had no idea that there were even certified Autism friendly resorts let alone one nearly in my backyard!  Had I known in advance, I would have gone over the "Social Book" with Ronin and prepared him for what we were going to experience. We'll be heading back, hopefully in September, so we can do it then!

We were at the resort with some fellow bloggers from the Tampa Bay Bloggers, and Ronin immediately gravitated to Mindy and her son, Bryce. He loves hanging out with them when we go to events, and Mindy said she was happy to have Ronin tag along. This gave me the opportunity to spend some time with my girls. During the time Ronin was with Mindy he got to go on the Paddle boats, Splash Island and took multiple trips down the High Tide Water Slide. The girls played in the Gulf, went down the slide, and swam in the pool. And relished the time that they were "Ronin free."

GoGoSqueez provided us with a hospitality suite which gave us a private bathroom, all the GoGoSqueez you could eat, ice cold water, and a place to escape from the sun! It was so nice!

Tradewinds also provided us with a lovely sit down lunch. They had hamburgers, hot dogs, fresh fruit salad, icy cold drinks, grilled chicken and more! This was my lunch!



After lunch, I took my three kids for some "mama led adventures." They went on the Bungee Trampoline.

 We explored Pirate Island

Ronin went down the slide some more, exclaiming as he came off "this is the best day EVER!!"


And he was right! This was the BEST day!! As I hinted above, I participated in a swim race. Here are Mindy and I showing our CrossFit muscles before the race began. Thanks Tara for taking the photo!

We spent over 10 hours at the resort and never even came close to seeing all that it had to offer. My girls didn't get the opportunity to go on Splash Island. We didn't do mini-golf, I didn't go down the slide (or Splash Island) but what we did do was FANTASTIC! We had so much fun with our friends and I really want (and need!!) to go back and explore the resort and it's Autism friendly offerings!!  We need at least 3 full days and next time we'll also bring our Autism service dog, as the resort is dog friendly (though Matthew can come anywhere with us.) It was an absolutely perfect place to unplug and push away the screen.

Honestly, I think we would have stayed all night, but typical Florida thunderstorms rained on our parade and closed the pools down. Denise from RunDMT and her 3 kids, plus me and my 3 kids, and Marisa from Adventures of Tampa Mama and her 4 kids were the last 3 bloggers there, and once the outdoor activities closed down, we decided to cut our losses and head for home!

They do offer Florida Resident specials, and you can find more information on the Tradewinds Resort website.  They are also on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram.


Have you been to Tradewinds Resort? What was your favorite activity? Have you ever heard of an Autism Friendly Resort?


Disclaimer: Our family was invited to enjoy a free day of play at the TradeWinds Resort in exchange for a review, however all statements made are my own and were not influenced in any way.