Saturday, July 23, 2016

Florida 2016

Took a road trip to see family in Florida. Went to Fort Meyer, Wiggins Pass, Naples, Islands of Adventure & Universal Orlando, and Flagler Beach.

The ride South was spent in good company. Crocheted and listened to some fun music.  We of course had to keep occupied with terrible humor and fun conversation.

My thunderbird:
This guy has been following me since Arizona

One of the flowers I crocheted 

Took my Tiny Grown Up to her first waffle house experience. The food was delicious and service was amazing.
The food was delicious and the service was fantastic!

We knew we had arrived when:

Florida State Welcome Sign

We tried Bonita Springs but the water was strange and green from the draining of Lake Okeechobee.  On the plus side the sand and water were teeming with life. A handful of sand could yield several dozen living mussels.  Sand dollars coated the gulf floor. 

Tiny Grown Up learning about nature

watching the storm roll in

The next 2 days were spent with AK's family at Wiggins Pass State Park.  I was very impressed. The beaches there were very well maintained, there was ample parking, and the vendors were kept off the beach and in the large parking areas.  The bathrooms were clean and easily accessible. The water was clear and smooth as glass.  It was not secluded but neither was it too busy.   Of course there was the requisite perfect white sand.  Plenty of shells for the kids to play with.  There were sea grapes, and other vegetation along the dune line instead of hotels and concrete. I would definitely visit this park again.

On day 2 we rented paddle boards and spent several hours paddling around. We sat on our boards watching the storm surrounding us on every side.  The rain was coming down in every direction but we were in a perfectly sunny spot. As we sat and watched the storm we realized we were leaving a wake behind us being pulled further out!  We had wound up paddling out too far, getting swept into the current,  and moving out toward sea much faster than intended.   

It took quite a long time to paddle back into shore where we discovered our friends had already left. Apparently the storm had even hit the beach where we started while we remained sunny and dry! Fortunately my quick thinking Tiny Grown Up decided to leave our keys in our cooler and take the rest of our stuff to prevent it getting too wet.  So we stayed for a while and played in the water. 


We made a stop in Orlando to visit Universal Studios Orlando and Islands of Adventure. The new Harry Potter theme sections of the parks was genuinely amazing but I'll pass on the butter beer.  It took 4 of us (3 adults and one child) to almost finish one Butterbeer. The flavor was very good, but there was so much sugar I think we all had a mild case of diabetic fatigue after sharing most of one.

Hogwarts Express with the BFF4Eva and my Tiny Grown Up
Drinking a frozen Butterbeer.
Apparently Duff Beer is delicious.
(Duff Dry won our personal taste test)
The last stop was Flagler Beach. We received a historical tour of the John Anderson Highway and Tomoka State Park area. And had a wonderful chance to check out the local wild life.  Wavecat and his lovely wife live right next to a state park and encounter tons of wild life right in their own back yard.

 Dinosaur Bunny . . . or Armadillo if you prefer
How to build a Florida Rope Swing
OG WaveCat with his hog skull collection. 

I kinda love Banana Spiders

And some of the more interesting personal history as well. Apparently WaveCat was gifted a Burton board before snowboards were a thing!

My OG WaveCat Showing AK an old school snow board.

 Flagler has grown quite a lot in the years since my last visit, but it still maintains that small town appeal.   We went body surfing,  surfing,  and skim boarding in the small Atlantic waves.

Tiny Grown Up after her first surfing excursion.

Flagler Beach at its finest.
After the beach we went and got cleaned up and went to dinner at the Flagler Fish Company.  Every bite was absolutely divine.  We tried the Steamed Muscles, the Shrimp Cocktail, Blackened Grouper, Tuna Salad, Seared Tuna Steak, and Crab legs. We had the Asiago Potatoes and Green beans, the and the sauteed spinach as our sides.

After dinner it was time for a midnight swim under the full moon. WaveCat took us back to the beach for a short excursion.  The water was still warm and the weather perfect for a little dip to end an awesome adventure. 

The trip home was less eventful. We were all exhausted from our adventures and ready for a little personal space.  

We stopped at Abbot Farms for peaches and jam on the way back. 

I purchased a bag of delicious freestone peaches, a jar of pickled okra, and a jar of no sugar added peach preserves. All are absolutely grand.  The peaches were not as soft and ripe as the road side stands of my youth but still very flavorful. 

AK had never tried pickled okra before, they don't do that sort of thing up north I guess. So I offered him a pickle and he was quite excited until he noticed it was okra.  

And we didn't have time to stop here.
GPS sent us home a different route that allowed us to bypass the majority of 75 (avoiding Jacksonville, Atlanta, and Lexington traffic) and this route was definitely nicer than the ride down.  The view was gorgeous! We wound through the mountains all afternoon and made our way out of the mountains just as the sun was setting.
Sunset over the Mountains in Tennessee

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