Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content- Philippians 4:11

Friday, March 20, 2015

Mystery Vacation ~ March 2015 ~ Day 18

Need I say more?

So glad to finally be home!!

As I wrap up sharing our vacation story ~ I would like to say a big Thank You to Miss Kathy at Sue Smith Vacations!  She helped us plan the entire trip and put up with our 10,000 questions along the way!  Thanks Kathy!

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Mystery Vacation ~ March 2015 ~ Day 17

We all got up and went out to watch the sunrise this morning before we headed out. Very pretty coming up over the Atlantic Ocean! We saw some cool fish in the channel while we were waiting.

Well, we started the drive with Riley sick and I guess we will end it with Sam sick. She coughed All. Day. Long. Nothing helped!

Nothing exciting happened today - expect Riley and I saw an alligator in one of the swamps on the side of the road.

We drove 13.5 hours, about 800 miles. We were rerouted at the very end of our travels because of a wreck the exit before ours- shut down I-10 west for over 3 hours. We were at MM 200 when we saw the sign that said crash at MM77 expect delays. That was 4:30. At 6:45, when we got to MM85, it was still shut down. When we got back on the interstate and to our hotel, it appeared to be still shut down. I watched news to see if there was anything - nothing.

Oh, and after 12 hours in the car you get silly...

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Mystery Vacation ~ March 2015 ~ Day 16

Well, I missed the sunrise today - it was later than I thought when I jumped in the shower, so boo... We let the kiddos sleep in a bit this morning. We sat out by the pool for a while, enjoying the quiet and the nice weather.

Once the kiddos got moving, we prepared for a morning of snorkeling and swimming. We had stopped and got bread, chips and goober grape jelly and we're going to have a picnic lunch as well.

We went to Long Key State Park to snorkel. It was fairly clear- kinda grassy- but not nasty like some places get. We all put on our mask and snorkels and headed out. I don't know how far we ended up going out- at least Samantha and I. They guys were probably a half mile out. They were still about waist deep. We saw some cool things underwater and found a coral pile. It too us a minute before we were brave enough to dive down and touch it, but once we got a piece back to the top, we figured out it was coral. It was in a weird pile, like it had been dumped there, not growing or whatever like you think of when you hear coral. There were some cool shells in the pile as well.

While we were WAY out in the ocean, I noticed someone moving by our table, so I had a weird feeling and we started swimming back slowly - still peeking underwater - but making our way back. About halfway in, someone sat down at our table... That really concerned me. All of our stuff was on the table - including car keys - where our wallets were.  They moved along, but when we got to the shore and table- there was a different guy laying on the ground right by our table! We were the only ones there, there were other tables, no one else around and he was laying that close to our things! We stayed close to the shoreline and watched the crabs run along the bottom.

 It was getting close to lunchtime and we had plans for the afternoon - so Sam and I went ahead with lunch while we tried to keep our eyes on the boys- or the dots that we assumed were the boys. It wasn't. We figured it out as they came in closer and started walking towards the shore and one of them had a bit more womanly figure than either of my boys!! So, back to searching the horizon for two more little snorkeling dots. We finally found them and they decided it was time to head in and have lunch.

They had a bag full of shells they had collected and tons of pics of things that they were able to see underwater - including an octopus! After they ate, Sam wanted to go back out. They didn't get as far (we were on a time crunch). They found a chest of some sort that when they moved it, it was full or lobsters. Roger got some pics and tried to get a video of it.

We finally got them to come in and got the car loaded and we're off to the next adventure! A friend had told me about a place down in the Keys that she was calling the Dolphin Lab. We found it- it's called Dolphin Research Center and they have about 25 dolphins and a few sea lions. They have several dolphin interaction choices and we signed the kiddos up for the Dolphin Experience. The information said - 20/25 minutes in water with dolphins- high fives, kisses, instructions and a dorsal pull. They were in a group of 6 and they were in the water for much longer than that. Probably close to an hour. They got to swim with Santini and Gypsy. When it was their turn for instructions - Samantha had them bob up and down out of the water and Riley chose to have a splash fight with them. They both loves the pull - the kiddos swam out a ways and both Dolphins came up behind them and the kiddos grabbed a hold of their dorsal fins and they were pulled around the lagoon that they were in.One of them also gave Samantha a gift - weeds they picked from the lagoon floor.

Aside from the fact that the kiddos got some really cool time with the Dolphins, we were pretty impressed with the facility overall. There were workers/volunteers were very interactive with all of the dolphins - there were people everywhere that were in uniform roaming around. And I know it sounds silly, because I know Dolphins are social animals - but these guys all seemed happy! They were very social and came right up to where we were, they would chatter with you if you made noises and they would turn where they had their eye on you and would watch you. Very fun because it was very interactive.

We got some great photos while there also - Riley had his GoPro on, they had my water camera in the lagoon with them, Roger was above them taking photos with my big camera and I was on another dock taking photos with my camera. And we bought a thumb drive with all of the professional pictures on it - my kiddos and some great dolphin shots!

When we got back to the resort, we had just a few minutes left at the lagoon for the 'toys', so both kiddos got another cool experience today - SUP! They both got to Stand Up Paddle board. Wasn't as hard as they thought it was going to be! They both thought it was pretty fun!

Sadly, time to head back to the room, shower and pack up to start the long journey home.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Mystery Vacation ~ March 2015 ~ Day 15

The sun was pretty coming up - even though I mostly missed it.  I went out early, but it was cloudy and I didn't think I would see it, so I went back in to the lobby (everything outside was wet and my crew was sleeping).  Roger called a few minutes after I got in and said the sun was coming up - so I went back out and got a couple of pics. We went down and visited with the dolphins this morning also.

Plans for today include Key West. We weren't real sure what we were going to do when we got there. We were actually staying about an hour away, so we discussed some options on the way down. Roger decided it would be fun to rent a little electric car and just cruise around Key West, stopping when we saw something neat.

Once we tracked down an electric car (there were 2 cruise ships docked, so the town was busy) we headed out. It was a neat little thing to ride around in for a tourist town, I wouldn't want something that small for daily use.

Our first stop, Southernmost Point. There was quite a line to get up to it, thankfully it was in the shade! There was a family behind us talking strategy to quickly get their pics taken by the buoy, so I turned around and told them we would get all of them if they would get one of us. They liked that idea, so we were able to get a good pic of the four of us- even though we have enjoyed taking family selfies & have about perfected it!

After Southernmost Point, we drove around town for a bit - had to pass Mile Marker 0 and get a picture of that! Drove past the light house, drove up and down Duval Street.

We had read about a Firefighter Museum, so after more driving, we finally found it. Small building, lots of town history, several firefighter items- including some really cool tributes to 9-11.

From there, we went to the town Cemetery and drove through it. It was pretty cool. Lots of history there also - we saw stones that dated back to 1837 - plus many more that were crumbling beyond recognition. Many huge, awesome mausoleums that were obviously money families. We searched some of the names and were convinced they were!

Of course, we had to have some original Key Lime Pie! We found Kermit's Key Lime and had a piece of yummy pie!

Time to get the car back, so back down Duval Street - the crowd was starting to get interesting, so we opted out of visiting Mallory Square for sundown (although, I do recommend going there if you are in the area- Roger and I have been there before and the kiddos didn't care to go - so that's why we skipped it) and headed back toward where we were staying. We did stop and dip our feet in the Atlantic Ocean for a few before leaving Key West. 

Arky managed to get into another photo - coming back across the Seven Mile Bridge

We found a place called Porky's BBQ & Fish for dinner. There was no wait to get a table, but it took forever before we were waited on. Roger ordered corn beef and cabbage, the rest of us stuck with the plain stuff on the menu- but it was all really good.  After dinner, we headed back to the hotel for shower, but didn't make it all the way without a stop.  Right at dusk, we were driving along, chatting and looking around - all of the sudden, Roger says "I'm stopping" I thought Ok- fine.  Look up - a motorcycle was on it's side in the middle of the street.  Yep, we lost him to a vehicle accident - again.  He jumped out and ran to help while I moved the car.  The kiddos and I sat and watched emergency vehicles come in. Roger helped for about 30 minutes and stayed until they got the patient loaded in the ambulance.  He is down to one pair of gloves in my car now, so he either needs to restock or quit stopping!!

We finally made it back to the hotel for showers and bed - but Riley left us again to go to the fire pit - and watch the big screen movie by the lagoon. 

Monday, March 16, 2015

Mystery Vacation ~ March 2015 ~ Day 14

Up and going this morning to our final destination of this long, mystery vacation. Once out of Miami, we started seeing signs for Everglades National Park- so, off we went. It wasn't too far off our path, and it as pretty neat. We did get to see a baby alligator in the wild, on the walkway going in to the visitor center.

On the way back into the national park, we passed a place called Robert Is Here. It appeared to be a farmers market type place, and we thought nothing of it- except the name was odd! Well, once past the building- the fields and workers - miles of fields - all with workers - picking the produce to bring to that market. There were some other cool things in the fields also - like their watering system - about 15 trucks spraying water over the gardens - pretty neat looking!

Back on the road to Key West - well, we were staying at a place called Hawk's Cay that is actually at Duck Key in Marathon. When we were visiting Ocean Extreme before Christmas- talking with the guy about diving and all- he said we need to stop in Islmorada at a place called Robbie's. Highly recommend Robbie's if you are ever headed to the Keys! Great little market on the bay side- have all kinds of water sport rentals, and little restaurant (awesome!) and you can go out on the dock and feed the tarpon (huge fish swimming out there) but- you have to get past the pelicans first!  Birds in general freak me out- but these were kinda cool- I took tons of photos of them - they were such good subjects!! 

The birds and the fish were both neat to watch. People were laying on their stomachs and feeding the fish. Roger went to toss a small fish to the tarpon and a pelican came up behind him and snatched it out of his hand - bit him pretty good. After we finished our buckets of fish, we walked around a bit more - lots of shops- touristy type stuff- neat things by local artists and our favorite of the day - shaved ice! It was a super large portion of melt in your mouth shaved ice! The best kind you can have!

Time to find Hawks Cay - beautiful, huge resort! We parked and waited in line for a while just to check in. We found out valet was included, but we had already parked and decided to just stay there - we wheeled a luggage rack out to the self park and loaded all of our stuff up and tried to take it in. The tram driver saw us pushing our own stuff and left the tram to come help us. He was funny and said if manager sees guest pushing their own things - someone goes home! He said it wasn't going to be him today! He helped us all the way to the room and made us laugh the whole time. He was from Jamaica and said he came to the US and this was the first stop and he got a job and loves it- so he stayed.
After we got settled in the room, we roamed the grounds - beautiful lagoon that you can swim in - kiddos were straight to it to swim.  We walked down and caught the tram to the marina and walked around down there, roamed back around and ended up out by the dolphin lagoon. Hawk's Cay is an awesome place to relax.  We all went back to the room, except Riley - he hung out around the campfire.