Archive for the ‘Florida’ Category

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!

 

 

Lots of Birds, No Bugs

Wednesday, January 21st, 2015

Everyday we see lots of birds and these guys are big!  They are everywhere.

This guy was hanging in the neighborhood where I was taking a walk.

This guy was hanging in the neighborhood where I was taking a walk.

In the local park, near Davie, FL.

In the local park, near Davie, FL.

Hanging in the tullies where we got on our Airboat ride!

Hanging in the tullies where we got on our Airboat ride!

Check out the colors on this guy

Check out the colors on this guy

We’ve seen lots of others but my camera hasn’t been ready!

 

Wow, I wasn’t expecting this!

Monday, January 19th, 2015

Florida is a very popular destination for those that can head south for the winter, ie.  Snowbirds!  We headed to the Atlantic Coast on Saturday without any reservations and were planning to stay at the Elks Lodge in Melbourne, Fl so that Paul could visit a dealer before heading further south.  We didn’t hook up the car so I drove ahead and the Elks Lodge was not very inviting from the outside and I was not really willing to spend the weekend so I met Paul near the freeway and we came up with plan B which ended up being Plan D!

There were not any available spots for the weekend; we are too close to the beach and it was MLK weekend so call the dealer and we have a spot with some electricity for the weekend.  We will be locked behind the gate, but we got a key so we can get out and enjoy the weather!  The dealer was right across from the water, a bay on Indian River and the beach is about 2o minutes away.

I wasn’t excited about being in a dealer parking lot but it worked out and we got busy making some reservations for the rest of the week.

I thought it was expensive at Walt Disney World, we found a spot at a very nice RV Resort near Port St. Lucie.  Outdoor Resort St. Lucie is a Luxury RV Resort with beautiful grounds and very exclusive; you have to have a Class A Motorhome to stay here and we had one of the cheap models compared to the money that was here!  There was a Par 3 golf course that the sites surrounded and golfing was included in your stay.  We  were overlooking the 12th hole.  The weather was fabulous and we really enjoyed the amenities.

Hollywood Beach, FL

Hollywood Beach, FL-  another beautiful day, another beautiful beach

Culture, education and a really fast car!

Friday, January 16th, 2015
Ready to take on Epcot!

Ready to take on Epcot!

Thursday, Paul joined us as we ventured into Epcot, a really nice, very spread out park.  The first loop has lots of rides, technology and learning experiences for kids. The back loop  has many dining and cultural experiences from around the world.  We ate in Morocco, Japan, and dessert in Germany where we enjoyed Wherthers Chocolates and Caramels.

A really large greenhouse

A really large greenhouse

We took a boat ride where we learned about how to care for our environment.  We saw lots of fruits and vegetables being grown for consumption in the WWD parks!  Really cool growing practices.  On the space ride somehow we ended up in a car that only spoke Spanish ( we think!) so we had to ride again!  Amy and I weren’t thrilled as it seemed slow and boring, but riding in English made the ride a lot more interesting!

This park doesn’t really have roller coasters but we did enjoy a ride in a car we designed while waiting at least 50 minutes for a 2 minute ride on the Test Track presented by Chevy.  Our car came in second in the race!

It was a really cold day and it started raining right after the fireworks show!  Another long day and now my feet are really tired!  Another 22,000 steps!  Too bad I’m eating all this really good food – I could be losing weight from all the walking!

The happiest place on earth

Thursday, January 15th, 2015

M I C, K E Y   MOUSE!  Mickey Mouse!!!  6 days at Fort Wilderness Campground Resort, a very nice campground, one of the nicest we have ever been in with full amenities including lots of electricity, 2 swimming pools, fireworks each night and a very quick boat ride to the Magic Kingdom and buses that will take you anywhere in Walt Disney World.

You can take a carriage ride through the campground

You can take a carriage ride through the campground

This all comes at a price which seems like a lot considering I am bringing my own bed, shower, and toilet but when you are in the happiest place on earth you just smile and have them scan your magic band and charge even the tinest item right to your credit card!  This could be trouble!!!

Where else would you find shrubs shaped like a mouse and his girl?

Where else would you find shrubs shaped like a mouse and his girl?

I love the mouse and Paul really could care less so we planned this trip for when Amy had a business trip to Orlando and she joined us for 4 days.  Amy and I spent 12 hours in the Magic Kingdom which is like Disneyland in CA only smaller because many attractions are located elsewhere in Walt Disney World.

We raced cars

We raced cars

Spun around in a teacup

Spun around in a teacup

Rode the kiddie coaster

Rode the kiddie coaster

Amy got Ears!

Amy got Ears!

I was amazed at how many different kinds of ears there were and how many diffent kinds of people were wearing them!  Amy wore hers all day and even the next day when we visited Epcot.

AmyArielGrotto

I think we rode most of the rides in the park and really had a great time without really standing in line for more than 15 minutes other than when we waited 45 minutes to ride their newest coaster, Seven Dwarfs Mine Train which after waiting and riding I think Big Thunder Mountain Railroad  is just as much fun and the line was at least half as long!  Lesson learned.

The parades are always fun

The parades are always fun –  We even had our photo taken with Ariel!

Beauty and The Beast!  One of my favorite stories

Beauty and The Beast! One of my favorite stories

And of course Mickey and Minnie came to the parade

And of course Mickey and Minnie came to the parade

After 12 hours we decided to call it quits!  I walked almost 24,000 steps!  I know because I have this little bracelet now that tells me what I have been up to each day!

I'm no fool!  I saw a chair while waiting for the boat and I sat down!

I’m no fool! I saw a chair while waiting for the boat and I sat down!

We had a great day and ended by taking our boat back to the campground while the fireworks lit the skies over the lake!  Perfect, and my CC is still working!!!!

 

Sometimes you need to follow your own advise!

Tuesday, January 13th, 2015

St. Augustine is know for being the nations oldest city and for its Fountain of Youth which is Florida’s oldest attraction.  Ponce de Leon discovered a spring at this location supposedly!  We went, we drank from the fountain which appears to come at a pretty steady stream out of nowhere and tastes like sulphur.  I’m thinking there is nothing special about the water as upon further reading the spring is fed from the Floridan Aquifer which lies below most of North Florida.

Peacocks run free

Peacocks run free – these were pretty to look at!

I knew it sounded weird but we are interested in weird however this attraction was not worth the $14 it costs a senior to explore.  We spent about an hour.  The best part of the park is you can bring your dog with you anywhere in the park without restrictions!  Duke enjoyed the planatarium and learned how the early sailors followed the stars and he had his own comfy seat in the movie about the discovery globe.  The grounds are pretty and they have a nice wooded walkway into the marsh but the hotel next door has the same view and the same walk so I think you could probably enjoy that part for free.  Definitely not on my list of great value of time or money.