Archive for the ‘Florida’ Category

The most gentle of creatures

Tuesday, March 3rd, 2015

Come along with us underwater to see the Manatee in their world.

Lets go see some Manatees!

Lets go see some Manatees!

We finally got the underwater pictures!  We purchased a throw away underwater camera from Captain Mikes so that we could get documentation that we really did swim with these magnificient creatures.  Because I was focusing on getting to swim in the crystal clear waters I didn’t even think of a camera.  So we got one last minute and all the shop had was a disposable camera with real film!  What are you suppose to do with that?  Well we found out you need a real camera shop unless you have time to send them out which will take a week!  We don’t stay anywhere a week so that was a problem.  We found a great photo shop in Fort Walton that took our camera and returned us digital images of what we filmed in 24 hours.  They are not great quality but fun no the less!

There were so many just resting along the bottom of the river near a spring.

There were so many just resting along the bottom of the river near a spring.

Going up for air

Going up for air

Hello there

Hello there

manatee7

manatee5

Up close and personal

Up close and personal

Lets see how close Denise will venture

Lets see how close Denise will venture

closer

closer

Ok, that is as far as I am willing to go

Ok, that is as far as I am willing to go

The closest encounter on film

The closest encounter on film

Just beautiful

Just beautiful

Those are some memories that will take a very long time to fade!

 

Amazing is the only way to describe this

Friday, February 27th, 2015

I have wanted to do this for a very long time.  Paul told me about Manatee and diving with them in the late 70’s and I have remembered.  We finally found the time and booked a tour with Captain Mikes Manatee Tours.  The weather has been less than perfect in Florida this winter so I was concerned about booking and it being cold or rainy but went ahead and I am so glad!

Watching a mom and her juvenile pass beside our boat

Watching a mom and her juvenile pass beside our boat

These gentle giants are so much fun to watch.  They don’t even seem concerned that there are black suited humans wearing snorkles and masks swimming right near them.

Captian Yeve telling us about our tour

Captian Yves telling us about our tour

Our captain was so interested in us having a great experience and the Manatee being taken care of.  We set out into Crystal River about 8:30 am.  It was still quite cold (64 degrees)  but we were cozy with a heater inside the houseboat and we slowly made our way to the springs where we were going to be snorkling with the Manatee.

Hmmmm

Hmmmm

The banks of this area are littered with homes.  It is a beautiful area with crystal clear water.  Our first stop was were there were two small springs and we found 4 manatee resting on the bottom.  The water was only about 10 feet at the deepest.  The manatee come to the springs because that is where the warmest water is.  We spend quite awhile just floating a watching the manatee rest on the bottom and surface for air.  Eventually we left and moved to the Three Sisters area.  While we moved up the river towards the area we found lots more tour boats and knew the viewing was going to be great.

A small spring

A small spring

There were lots of these areas that our captain pointed out.   The really light area is a small spring area.

Everyone out to view the manatee

Everyone out to view the manatee

We finally arrived at the springs and there were so many boats we figured the viewing would be hard as so many snorklers would muddy the waters.  Wrong!  There we so many manatee and they were pretty active.  We found lots moving into and out of the springs.  Two swam right under me on my way in.  They are definitely not bothered by us as the manatee didn’t even stop.  I could have reached out and touched her but I am afraid of breaking rules and there are very strick rules about Manatee protection.  You are not suppose to approach them but when the approach you that is fine.  Paul and I watch one guy stand in the spring in only swim trunks and a manatee  began chewing on his shorts!  He almost was pants!

After awhile I was getting cold, even though the water is about 70, it was still cold outside!  We returned to our boat and continued to watch the manatee swim by.  We had another guest on our boat, Janine from Germany.  She was here on vacation.

Manatee right under Janine

Manatee right under Janine

None of us had a really personal interaction like a kiss but we all were close enough to be able to really experience them.  It was definitely as cool as I thought for over 30 years!  Next trip to Florida we will definitely do this again!

 

Memories of Friday Night Movies

Sunday, February 22nd, 2015

Tampa has a Drive In Movie theater and Paul had it on his bucket list.  We saw Kingsmen.  An interesting movie.

Previews

Previews

We arrived about 30 minutes before showtime and had our pick of spots as no one was there.  The first thing I noticed is they no longer have the bumps to angle your front window for the best viewing.  They also don’t have heaters.  I brought blankets as it has been cold here.  Finally about 5 minutes before the movie started a few more cars showed up.  Everyone wanted to be in the center so we had neighbors.  We took Duke with us and he was very unsure of why we were sitting in the dark, listening to the radio. Everytime there was a dramatic sound Duke was up and searching out the windows.  The snack bar was scary but that is ok, we popped our own popcorn and brought drinks.

Based on this experience I am thinking there won’t be a comeback of Drive In Movie Theaters.  The price is definitely a plus but going to a nice comfortable theater with Dolby sound and clean restrooms is worth the extra $3 to me!  Or, just stay home, invite a friend over and have your own private movie screening!  Then you can have popcorn your way!

Back to the real world

Thursday, February 19th, 2015

Back in the city with all the ammenities and noise.  We are in a very noise, crowded RV park for a week while Paul takes care of some business in Tampa – I’ll get to the beach!

 

That should be interesting!

That should be interesting!

That is a first.  The owner was talking to him just like we talk to Duke.  I just kept wondering how comfortable that would be in a motorhome?  He didn’t bark so I guess that is a plus.

Sand Key Beach was a bit chilly on Thursday but I bundled up and off I went for a really nice walk.

Sand Key Beach

Sand Key Beach

No, I didn't buy these!

No, I didn’t buy these!

Sand Key Beach is near St. Petersburg and has the beautiful blue water of the Gulf.  The sand is cluttered with shells and lots of fun.  I found lots of immature conch shells.  I found one that was perfect and about 4 inches long, however when I picked it up it was still occupied!

A very big boy

A very big boy

I spotted this guy hanging out near the breakwater.  He stood about 3 feet high and I was waiting to capture him on take off.   He was smarted than I and waited until I checked for a text message and off he went.  No noise at all!  I didn’t even know he left.

 

 

Getting away from the everyday

Monday, February 16th, 2015

Peace and quiet, out in the country with more than 30 rigs sounded really good after spending several weeks in RV parks.  We spent a week off the grid, sort of!  We hooked up with RVDreams at there winter Boondocking Rally in Arcadia, FL.  Boondocking means, come full of water with great batteries and a generator that is ready to get busy.   Our new RV is a bit tricky when not hooked up to electricity because of having a residential refrigerator.  Our first hope was we would need to run the generator every other day.  That didn’t work!  Infact the first night the generator thought maybe it should run at 1 am!  That was exciting.  We quickly learned that we would need to run the generator everyday just to keep the refrigerator happy.

A few RVs

A few RVs

The rally wasn’t too far out of town, but it was quiet when all the generators went to sleep at 10 pm.  There was a huge bonfire everynight and I was among the last to call it a night each evening.  One evening Paul got out his newest toy and helped the fire along.

DSC_0098-S

Paul always knows how to get people riled up!  Again he was known as Pyro Paul!  (I stole the Photo from Howard at RVDreams, cause I just didn’t want to run grab my camera!)  The weather was colder than it should have been but the sun was out and we had lots of adventures.

Our rig in the background!

Our rig in the background!

We arrived on Sunday just in time to take a prime spot right where all the group happenings would take place.  We didn’t miss any activities.

We golfed one afternoon for $20 bucks including the cart.  There were so many on the course that 9 holes was more than enough for me.  Wednesday evening I was joined outside to watch American Idol on our outdoor TV!  Only one taker, Linda and I quickly moved inside to stay warm and enjoy the show.

Lots of alligator warnings

Lots of alligator warnings!

Thursday we canoed with 20 boats on the Peace River.   It was a beautiful day and I didn’t have to paddle much as the current was really moving.  We only saw one alligator and he was small and on the bank.  Paul tried to call the alligators the way our guide did on our airboat ride.  I was not impressed!

Howard and Linda, our Cruise Directors!

Howard and Linda, our Cruise Directors!

Enjoying an afternoon of paddling

Enjoying an afternoon of paddling

There were several potlucks and of course there was plenty of food that I just couldn’t say no to!  We met lots of new fulltime RVers that we will definitely meet up with again down the road.

The Four “S’s”

Thursday, February 5th, 2015

Sand, Surf, Sun, and Shells.  Pretty easy to enjoy!

Another beautiful walk on the beach

Another beautiful walk on the beach

There are just so many places to walk on the beach here on the Gulf of Mexico.   The water is about 65 degrees, which by Florida standards is cold, not for these California feet.  If the outside temp warms up very much I’ll be swimming in the gulf!

Englewood Beach

Englewood Beach

The seagulls were enjoying the fishing

The seagulls were enjoying the fishing

Englewood Beach, rated one of the top 10 beaches in Florida

Englewood Beach, rated one of the top 10 beaches in Florida

It is very nice but I am not sure what makes it so special other than access is pretty good.  The surf is very calm as is most of the gulf coast in Florida.  The sand was very hard to walk on as they have so many shells!

That is all shells

That is all shells

The sand is very soft at the waters edge so you sink in and then if you move up to the dryer sand it is just packed shells!  I felt guilty walking and crushing all the shells!   In fact all the beaches we have been to here are full of shells.  Shells are abundant here in Florida.  They are used for everything.

Landscape in a shopping center

Landscape in a shopping center – Shells

As I was walking along the beach I thought about all the times I bought shells, like when the kids were young and we would go to the beach and end up in the gift shops!  Those baskets of small shells that they always have lots of!  They come to Florida and scoop them up by the bucket full and package them and sell them to us west coast people that never see whole shells on the beach!

My collection from Englewood Beach

My collection from Englewood Beach – 5 minutes!

Not sure I need more shells but they are fun to watch for and pick up!

Gentle Giants

Thursday, January 29th, 2015

Today we decided to go early and try a kayak at Manatee Park.  The viewing is suppose to be best early in the morning – we made it by about 11:30!  That is early for us!

That big dark patch is a Manatee

That big dark patch is a Manatee

closer

closer

Coming right up to our kayak

Coming right up to our kayak

getting some air

getting some air

Manatee8

Manatee4

Manatee5

The fin is right next to the boat!

The fin is right next to the boat!

They were swimming everywhere and not afraid of the kayakers.  They would rub their backs on the underside of our kayak but never did the make us move.  I had one little guy put his snout right next to where my paddle was resting on the kayak.  I could have petted him but it is illegal so I kept my hands in the boat!  Absolutely amazing!

A beautiful day for a ride

A beautiful day for a ride

Moving to the Westside

Thursday, January 29th, 2015

Tuesday we traveled through the Everglade National Park, landing in Ft. Meyers.  The Everglades were much different that I expected.  They are mostly tall grasses called sawgrass without many trees.  As we got closer to the gulf the mangroves started appearing.  Very different landscape, and boy is Florida flat!..We are about 45 minutes from the beach and it is still pricey and hard to find accomodations.  Note to self – next time we find somewhere, park for a month and Paul can drive to the dealers!  It isn’t that bad but the price is crazy.  Anyway, Wednesday we took a drive to a nearby park to view the Manatees.  Manatee Park is near the Orange river where the power plant discharges warm water and the Manatee come when the gulf is below 68 degrees.

There were lots of Manatee and viewing them was very relaxing.

Lots of them just relaxing in the warm waters.

Lots of them just relaxing in the warm waters.

Once in awhile one would surface to take air.  The park has a very nice nature trail and we took a walk.  The river was very inviting and they have kayaks but it was pretty cool so we saved that for another day.

From there we took a drive to Ft. Meyers Beach and found a nice “little” beach that was called Dog Beach.  It was very small but we were lucky and it was low tide so Duke got to play in the water and chase his ball!

A dog on a mission

A dog on a mission

Trying to hang on to the ball and not eat too much sand!

Trying to hang on to the ball and not eat too much sand!

Within 5 minutes he was fully immersed in the gulf waters and a mud ball.  In the parking lot they have a dog shower so he was rinsed off and we headed home.

It’s 5 o’clock and getting home and cooking was not appealing so I start looking for somewhere to get some seafood.  We found this really cool dive of a restaurant that had patio seating and the dog was welcome.  We sat on the patio along a canal and watched the sunset enjoying some very good grouper and fish tacos!

Check tomorrows post for more on the Manatee

Another beautiful, sunny, cool day

Another Sunday in the Park

Thursday, January 29th, 2015

We found a nice county park that was jam packed with people having picnic and enjoying the sunshine.  We took the dog and a lunch and sat near the Radio Controled Airplane field and enjoyed watching lots of fancy manuvers with planes and helicopters.

Looks real from a distance

Looks real from a distance

Up close and personal

Up close and personal

 

Flipper, Remember when?

Saturday, January 24th, 2015

We are in south Florida, spending the day with Paul’s sister Cindy and her granddaughters, Tommy and Ali who had just spent 5 days cruising the Carribean.  They had until 7 pm to get to the airport and return to Denver so we enjoyed the day together.

Key Biscayne Lighthouse

Key Biscayne Lighthouse – Photo Bomb!

Our first stop was Key Biscayne Island, which is know for its beaches.   We took a couple walks in the Bill Baggs State Park.  We took the steps to the top of the lighthouse for the view.  It is the oldest standing structure in the area.  The stairs we very steep and they were a bit wobbly!

Love this photo.

Love this photo.

This is from the other side of the lighthouse.  This old guy was just hanging out with his stuff.  I think he was fishing earlier but was just relaxing.  It was pretty windy at the time.

From the shores of the park you can see Stiltsville which is a bunch of homes built on stilts in the middle of the ocean.

Lots of privacy

Lots of privacy

Apparently these homes were built in the 1930’s and they were popular during prohibition as they are one mile offshore so booze was legal there.  The town was known as a get away and party place, but that all ended in 1965 when the government decided to charge $100 annually to lease their quarter acre campsite and if they were damaged they could not rebuild.  A hurricane took alot of them out.  Then in 1976 the government raised the fee to $300 and added an expiration date of  July 1, 1999.   So now they are in a trust and owned by the national parks and no one but the caretakers can visit.  Sounds like a fun place to hang out in the Old Days!

The weather wasn’t good for beach going so we decided to head inland and grab some Cuban food for lunch.  We found Little Havana but didn’t have much luck finding Cuban!  We did find Salvadorian and it was excellent.  I had a plate of meat that would have feed all 5 of us!  Lots of left overs for dinner.

The Everglades were calling us so we headed to Buffalo Tigers Everglades Airboat Tours  to take a ride.  We took off from the dock and headed into what looks like lots of weeds.

The Everglades

The Everglades

Remember the TV show, Flipper?  I loved that show and during the whole ride I remembered laying on the floor, watching Sandy and Bud cruise around the Everglades every week.  We didn’t see Flipper but we did see Aligators!

Hello!

Hello!

Older ones

Older ones

Younger ones

Younger ones- this guy according to the guide is probably about 1 1/2

Our guide would stop often when he saw an aligator and call it over to the boat!  He fed them bread and actually touched several of them.  It was pretty scary and I was definitely staying on the far side of the boat.

Airboating

What a day!