Florida – Part II

Florida – Part II

“Can’t drink all day if you don’t start in the morning” – the unofficial theme of Florida.

This was the furthest from home that the journey will take us. Each stop from now on will now bring us closer to home.
The 2-months we spent in Florida was refreshing. Snowbirds know what they are doing! Our time included stops in The
Florida Keys, Everglade Isle, and Crystal River.

In the Keys, the results of Hurricane Irma are still prevalent! It’s hard to believe it was only six months
ago; however, the Keys are still amazing. We loved it here, an amazing place unlike anywhere in the U.S.
We wanted to help so we tried to volunteer with Habitat for Humanity, but they were booked up for the next
month thanks to students coming down for Spring Break! Way to go Young Humans! So, instead, we humbly ran
a charity 5k that started at a beautiful beach on a sun-soaked morning. Volunteerism is hard but satisfying

A day trip to Key West for the Mallory Square Sunset festival, which is a street party that erupts every night as
the sun goes down. Street performers and vendors everywhere. Zoe helped one street performer
stack chairs (that he stood on as he inserted a fire stick in his mouth) and earned $5. LOL Only Zoe could make money
off of a street artist. The girls got a small taste of the “adult party” that is Key West after sunset…Doh! This trip
is about learning, and that is what they are doing. We did get some key lime pie here, cause you know…when in the Keys.

We visited Earnest Hemingway’s insanely perfect home and (among other things) learned of his now 54 cats, many of
which have six toes (fact). Admittedly, I haven’t read many of his books, but his personal story is fascinating!
Brian went on and on about Hemingway being a true man’s man…whatever that means.

We took a snorkeling trip to the world-famous Sombrero Reef. I was amazed at how well Zoe did in the big waves. Once you
stick your head in the water all the chaos above the water goes away and you can simply watch the fish. She was much braver
in the water than on roller-coasters. Hannah mastered letting the air in and out of her life jacket to entertain the fish
with her backflips.

No Name Pub was a “must-see” destination on our last day. Yes, we even bought the t-shirt. Everybody who visits pins at least
a dollar to the wall and there are now supposedly over $450K on the walls of the place. Side note-The girls are constantly doing
their classes as we are out and about, a MASSIVE benefit to on-line schooling. However, Zoe asked her teacher to “Please speak
louder, I am in a bar”. I think I dropped my fork. The principal should be calling anytime now.

The Dolphin Research Center is a must do if you are in the area. They are doing some amazing work to help our fellow mammals. The
girls spent some epic one-on-one time with Pax, our 9-ft, 600lb friend. The passion and drive this team shared was contagious.

A 15-mile biking loop through Shark Valley in the Everglades was a highlight. I cannot believe we/humans are “allowed” to be
this close to hundreds of wild alligators in their own habitat. We literally had to bike around the gators laying half on and off
the trail. I kept telling Brian, in my best helicopter mom voice “how is this safe, this is not safe”. I would do it again in a
second! Nature channel at its best!

We took a skiff boat ride through the 10,000 islands off the coast of southwest Florida and met several wild dolphins up close.
One dolphin in particular really enjoyed playing alongside the boat and riding behind in our wake. So great! Our little dolphin-lover
(Zoe) was over the moon with excitement!

Skunk Ape Head Quarters (Florida bigfoot)- Just keep driving. Not worth the energy it takes to turn your neck and look at the place.

In Crystal River we explored the Homosassa State Park, Wild Life Park and rented kayaks to paddle out to a large population of manatees.
Such gentle giants. Pretty amazing feeling as a mother and calf swim right under your kayak on their way up the spring.

Thank you, Florida, for so many “firsts”. We will keep on keeping on… Time to get out the warm-weather gear, again.

Boondocks and Bliss