Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Bucket List, Hold An Alligator ✔

It was my last day in the sunshine state and lucky for me I was able to spend with it not only with my Mom but with my favorite Step-Dad, Phil too.  He took the day off so we could head out and about and do something fun. "What do you want to do today?" my Mom asked.  "I was thinking I want to hold an Alligator."... sounds like a typical day, right?

So we did some searching and found not only a place that allows gator holding but also offers an air-boat ride through the swamps of central Florida.  Tom and Jerry's Airboat Tour is located on  beautiful Lake Panasoffkee and the ride will take you through the spring fed creeks of the Withlacoochee River System.  Riding the fast air-boats in January was a bit chilly but the sun was shining so that meant the Alligators would be out sunbathing.  We saw at least 5 gators laying out in the marsh-like shallow areas of the river; basically their skin is a natural solar panel, keeping them warm enough in the winter months.

Not only did we see gators but many different Florida birds and one area of the tour known as Buzzard Bay.  I have never in my life seen so many buzzards in one place.  The water is very shallow in areas and as we toured mother nature's scenic swamps, you could see all the way down to the bottom.  I was hoping a gator might come up out of the water, but maybe for the safety of everyone, that wouldn't be something to wish for.

Before taking the tour came the holding of the gator.  This little cutie is named Pickles, was only 19 months old, and about 30 inches long.  Pickles was only 5 inches long when he/she was born and I say "he/she" because you can not tell the sex of an alligator until they reach 24 months of age.  I was the first to step up and take my chance. I don't say "hand over the baby" very often but that was my first thought! The most surprising thing about Pickles was how soft the skin was.  I guess I expected scaly and rough but it was the complete opposite.  They are pretty protective of their little critters so I had to pass him off to other people waiting, but I could have held Pickles for hours.  I would have preferred that they had not taped his mouth closed, but I guess I understand why #gatorbait

If you haven't taken a ride on an air-boat tour before, I highly recommend it. This was my second experience and I would do it again! It's so much fun! And be sure to hold a gator, you won't regret it!

See Ya Later, Gator 🐊

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Wednesday, January 23, 2019

South Beach, Bringing the Heat

Did anyone else sing that title in their best Will Smith voice? Or maybe that was just me. Two words, South Beach.  It was definitely a place in Miami that I have wanted to visit for a while; mainly for the art, the food, and well...the beach.  I wanted to treat my Mom so I booked a night start at the Beacon South Beach, located right on Ocean Drive. This Art-Deco inspired hotel was the perfect location to take it all in.

We arrived early Wednesday afternoon and after having our car Valet'd, because that's the only way to do it, we dropped off our bags, put on our suits, and headed to catch some rays.  It was 78° that day and we found the perfect spot in the sand to kick back and relax. The water felt pretty good too.  The sea is always calling my name, no matter the temperature.  After our beach time, we made our way back to our super cool room to get ready for dinner.  A night on the town; which actually meant walking a block to one restaurant, having a cocktail and sharing a meal before landing back at our hotel, and repeating.  What can I say? We were still hungry.

The next morning we dined on the patio for breakfast before heading downtown to the district of Brickell to meet up with my friend and travelling gal, Nichole.  She greeted us with shots of Cuban Coffee, which by the way was some of the most delicious I have ever had, then showed us some really cool spots around the area.  The architecture here is something to see.  We made a quick ride back to our hotel and since we had a late checkout, had a bit of time to take another stroll along the beach before heading home.  It was the perfect overnight get-a-way.

By the way; here is a quick review of the Beacon South Beach.

  • Friendly staff and Valet parking! Worth the $35, trust me!
  • Colorful rooms with an Ocean View...throw down the extra cash for this, you won't be disappointed!
  • Beach chairs and towels in every room just for you!
  • Breakfast served on the patio and if you are an early riser, they have a self-serve coffee and tea bar located on the second floor!
  • Right across from the beach!
  • Art-Deco style hotel!
  • Perfect location on Ocean Drive!
  • Bike Rentals close by!
  • Affordable pricing, but look for deals! I was able to get a night that included breakfast and an ocean front view on Black Friday that couldn't be beat! 

Until Next Time Miami!

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Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Manatees + Florida Springs

After arriving in Florida at midnight, renting a car and driving 45 minutes to get to my Mom's place and barely being able to sleep that night, I was up early and ready for my solo day of adventuring. I left mid-morning and headed to a place in Florida called Crystal River.  I was there for three things; the nature, the wildlife, and the hiking.  After arriving at this off-the-beaten-path wildlife refuge, known for it's manatees and gorgeous springs, I took off wandering through the wet-lands and making my way to the boardwalks that wind around the beautiful blue-green colored water. It was a warmer day today so the manatees were mostly in the canal, and it's mating season, so they were busy anyway. But there was one lone manatee located in the center of it all and I like to think he was there for me.  After spending a couple of hours wandering around and talking to the local volunteers, I hiked my way around the refuge and back to the car.  I was off to my next destination, known as Hunter Springs.

I spent a hour perched under a lone palm tree, taking in the warm sun that was shining down.  Hunter Springs is a cozy smaller beach and although it's man-made, it's a nice place to enjoy a picnic, cool off in the springs of Kings Bay, or launch a kayak or paddle-board. After my hour of paid parking timed out, I was on my way back to the Plantation. I took the long way, driving though the Citrus Wildlife Management Area aka Withlacoochee Forest.  The winding roads decorated by large trees covered in moss, and through the smaller Central Florida towns, offered some cool sites to see.

My Mom and I decided to grab a quick bite to eat before heading off to play a nightly round of Pickleball. My only stipulations were eating outside and by the water; Boondocks on Little Lake Harris offered both.  We enjoyed peach mimosa's and I had to try the California Blood Orange IPA made by 21st Amendment Brewery. This cute little joint was the perfect spot to enjoy a late lunch with lake views just steps away; the fish and corn fritters weren't bad either.  It was a perfect day in Florida.

Tuesdays in Florida :)

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