As practice for future trips to visit his Vietnamese relatives, Peter went on his first tropical vacation last week.  He was able to handle Florida’s palm trees, beaches, and sunshine without any problems, but I think he needs more practice with airplanes, so his next challenge will be a trip to visit Grandma and Grandpa in Minnesota.

Son left Sunday morning for his LC-MS training session at Thermo Fisher Scientific’s West Palm Beach location.  Since Peter had a NICU follow-up clinic scheduled for Monday, he and I followed Son to Florida on Monday afternoon.  Peter and I had the plane’s back row all to ourselves on our flight to Detroit, and he slept peacefully for most of that leg.  Unfortunately, the flight from Detroit to West Palm Beach didn’t go quite as smoothly.  Our departure was delayed by about 45 minutes due to a broken taxi light, and Peter screamed for about 45 minutes prior to take-off because he was tired and unable to settle himself.  Happily, Peter fell asleep as soon as the plane’s wheels left the runway, and he slept for the duration of the flight.  We didn’t land in Palm Beach until 11:15 p.m., but I’ll still count it as a successful trip, given that I was flying stand-by with a baby.

Tuesday was quite warm and humid, so after walking along the shore of Lake Worth for a few minutes, Peter and I sought the shelter of an air-conditioned public building.  We soon found ourselves in the Norton Museum of Art admiring Egyptian artifacts on loan from the Brooklyn Museum.  Peter wasn’t all that excited about sarcophagi or canopic jars, but he enjoyed the exhibit on Kenneth Jay Lane’s flashy costume jewelry and the colorful new contemporary art gallery.  We went back to the hotel for lunch and a nap, during which time a severe thunderstorm relieved the air of its stifling humidity and the palm trees of their excess palm fronds.  (Think: big mess on the roads.)

After the front had passed, we returned to the art museum for a second look.  I enjoyed seeing the Chinese bronzes and carved jades on the second floor, and the third floor had a small but high-quality collection of impressionist paintings.  I couldn’t interest Peter in the Georgia O’Keeffe paintings or the early European artwork, so we left after skimming through the those galleries.

I had not had a good meal in a couple days, so we went to the Sailfish Marina for a lovely waterfront dinner.  Son had a shrimp dish, and I had an amazing seafood paella.  My only complaint would be that my paella had too much fish and not enough rice.  Peter did not sleep through dinner as we had hoped he would, so Son and I alternately took Peter for short strolls along the dock while the other ate.

Wednesday was a beautiful day, so Peter and I went to the zoo.  I enjoyed seeing koalas, scarlet macaws, kookaburras, a white alligator, tigers, giant anteaters, lemurs, and wallabies.  Peter enjoyed seeing the other people at the zoo.  I guess I’ll have to give him a couple years to develop an interest in non-human species.

Thursday was warmer but mostly cloudy – perfect beach weather for pale-skinned northerners.  Peter and I traveled south to Boynton Beach to visit Mangrove Park.  The mangrove trees were smaller than but just as dense and tangled as I had imagined.  We saw a couple crabs and a few fish as we made our way along the aluminum boardwalk.  I trust that there were many more hatchling fish just out of sight because signs in the park made it clear that mangrove swamps are a very impotant part of Florida’s ecosystem.

Peter and I then walked along the surf at the public beach.  Or rather, I carried him along the surf.  (Peter didn’t really like getting his ankles wet.)  It was very relaxing for both of us, and Peter was nodding off when we returned to the car.

After our lunch and midday nap, Peter and I visited Whitehall, the winter retreat of the tycoon, railroad baron, and partner in Standard Oil, Henry Morrison Flagler.  Peter wasn’t quite as mesmerized by the stately mansion as I was, but I like to think even he appreciated the grandeur of Whitehall’s 75 rooms and the richness of its furnishings on some level.  Crystal chandeliers, silk wallpaper, marble sculptures, oil paintings, and alabaster bathroom sinks… it was certainly the most impressive private dwelling that I have ever seen.  And the dancer in me was particularly covetous of Whitehall’s beautiful ballroom.

Son’s training finally concluded on Thursday, so we all went to MacArthur State Park on Friday morning.  We walked along a trail through the hammock near the seashore, but the sun was too intense to spend much time on the beach.  We made up for our brief visit to the beach by spending more time at the park’s nature center, which featured several aquariums, including a tank with a loggerhead sea turtle.

We had lunch at The Gardens Mall and had just enough time to show Peter some shiny, sparkly objects at the Swarovski boutique before heading to the airport.  Peter didn’t sleep very much on the plane ride to Philadelphia or the ride to Boston, but he was fairly content to play nicely with Mom and Dad.  We got home late, but luckily, we still had the weekend ahead of us to rest.

I nearly failed once again to take any photos, but I did remember to use my camera on Friday:

[I can’t get over how big Peter looks.  My little 2.5-pound baby weighs 15 pounds already!  Granted, that’s only 1st percentile for a nearly-9-month-old, but at least I can say that he’s on the growth chart now.]

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