Saturday, December 3, 2016

Swimming with Manatees at Homosassa Springs

Two manatees at Homosassa Springs

Last week instead of fighting the Black Friday crowds at the mall, Ron and decided to do something completely unique to Florida – swim with manatees. Although manatees look fat, they actually have very little body fat and can’t tolerate cold water. So in the winter months when the temperature of the Gulf of Mexico drops into the 60s, manatees make their way to the warmer waters of Crystal River and Homosassa Springs. Since it had been a warm November, I was a little worried that there wouldn’t be many manatees at the springs yet. But before we’d even finished launching our boat at the boat ramp, I spotted a couple swimming up the river. A good sign!

Monday, November 28, 2016

Key West 2016

Key West sign

Friday

This trip couldn’t have come at a better time. My tooth was still hurting from the root canal I had a few weeks ago, and all the ugliness dredged up by the election was really getting to me. I needed a few days of sunshine and mojitos in a city whose philosophy was “One Human Family”. If there is any place where people embrace each other’s differences, Key West is it!

We didn’t do much on Friday since our flight didn’t get in until mid-afternoon. By the time we’d settled into the house and made a run to the grocery store for beer and perishables, it was getting dark. We walked down to the waterfront and ate dinner at Schooner Wharf Bar, sitting on the upper deck where there was a nice breeze. I had my first mojito of the trip and my tooth was feeling better already. :-)

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Pumpkin Safari at Safari Wilderness Ranch

Safari Wilderness Ranch entrance

On Sunday, Ron and I spent the afternoon at Safari Wilderness, a 260-acre ranch located in Florida’s Green Swamp near Lakeland. The ranch is home to over 50 species of exotic animals from Africa and Asia, including antelope, deer, water buffalo, Watusi cattle, zebras, llamas, and even a wart hog. In 2012, the ranch opened to the public for tours, but it is not a zoo or a theme park. The animals roam and graze freely around the natural Florida landscape.

Most people visiting the ranch take the Vehicle Safari tour, which is offered twice daily for $75 a person and lasts about two hours. But this month the ranch is celebrating its annual Pumpkin Safari with shorter tours leaving every hour from 1 PM to 6 PM on Saturdays and Sundays for $39. The Pumpkin Safari also includes a free pumpkin to carve or give to the animals for enrichment.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Our All-Inclusive Weekend on Norwegian Sky

Norwegian Sky

Miami

We booked this cruise just two weeks before the trip. We were stuck at home during Tropical Storm Hermine, bored and dreaming of sunny skies, so Ron started searching around on the internet and found a good deal on a 3-day cruise on Norwegian Sky. We sailed on Sky a few years ago, but since then it had become an Open Bar ship, meaning that alcoholic beverages were included in the price. No need to sign for drinks, no 3-page statement at the end of cruise. Sounded great!

Since Ron didn’t want to deal with driving, we flew to Miami on Friday morning. It was a quick cab ride to the port using the new Port Miami Tunnel and we were onboard by noon. Our first stop was to drop off our carry-on bags at Captain Cook’s Lounge. This is a great feature on Sky – you can bring your bags onboard with you and check them in the lounge until the cabins are available. I loved not having to leave our luggage with a porter, wondering how many hours it would be before it showed up outside our cabin. It also meant that there weren’t 2000 people dragging their suitcases around the buffet. :-)  I wish every ship had this option.