Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Adventures in Florida

Blogs are great things, aren't they?  A few months ago, clicking through a new to me sewing blog, I came across a post about a State Park in FL that looked liked a neat place to visit.  Looking it up on the map, I saw that it was about a 2 hour drive from where we would be staying over Spring Break.  So, we added it to our list of things to do while in Florida.:)
A quick PSA:  If you're headed to Myakka River State Park make sure you look up it's location on the website and follow their directions to the south entrance.  We followed our GPS which took us to the north entrance that is closed during the week.  Luckily, someone let us in otherwise we would have had a long drive back to the south entrance.
Want to get up close and personal with some alligators, go canoeing on the Upper Myakka Lake!  I didn't get many pictures and certainly none that showed how close we were to the alligators because I was too scared.  Seriously!  My heart was pounding the entire 30-40 minutes we were in the canoes.  But it was a lot of fun and well worth the potential heart attack.;)
The canal where you put the canoes in at (also where the air boat tours depart from) isn't very wide and had at least 4 alligators (that I could see) in it.  One of these gators was fairly good sized, around 9 feet long.  I couldn't get over how unfazed they were by all the activity going on around them. 
Out on the lake the wind was pretty strong which made paddling a bit hard.  At one point, I'm pretty sure our canoe (P, BK, and I) ran over an alligator.  We were trying to go around, far around the gator but the wind blew us right where it was.  The gator sank down under the water but there were plenty of bubbles coming up underneath our canoe.
After the canoe ride, we did the canopy walkway.  The walkway is suspended 25 feet off the ground and approximately 100 feet long.  It leads to a tower that is 74 feet tall.  The view from the top of the tower is amazing!
I would have loved to explore the park more but the kids were ready to hit the road.  On the way back to the house in Kissimmee, we took a scenic route:  I-275 and the Sunshine Skyway Bridge over Tampa Bay. 
You can see the bridge behind K

We pulled over after crossing the bridge to get a closer look at Tampa Bay.  The girls had a lot of fun wading around and picking up sea shells.  P...not so much. 
So what else did we do on vacation?  We kept it pretty low key this year.  We didn't go into any of the Disney theme parks but we did ride the boats around the lagoon, stopping at the Boardwalk for a little bike ride.
We also checked out the newest Disney resort, Art of Animation.
The kids really enjoyed the Cars theme area.:)
Just like in previous years, we visited the Reedy Creek Nature Preserve.

And enjoyed fishing in the lake behind the house...

Everyone caught multiple fish, with the exception of BK.  She was more interested in whacking people with the fishing pole than actually fishing.;)
And last but not least, the kids enjoyed the pool despite the heater being broken and chilly water temps...
Big thanks to my in-laws for letting us crash at their rental house!

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Dismal Swamp Bike Ride

It's a beautiful spring day today, so with no commitments on a Saturday (for once) we took the kids on a bike ride along the Dismal Swamp Canal.  The bike trail is 2.75 miles and located just north of South Mills, NC. 

We parked at the south end of the trail and rode our bikes to the welcome center.  All the kids did fabulous...even the little girls who haven't ridden their bikes anywhere but around our neighborhood.  BK, MG, and I waited at a picnic table as John, K, and P rode their bikes back to the truck to drive back up to the where we were.  Poor BK wasn't going to make it another 2.75 miles!

MG playing peek-a-boo


After the truck and the rest of our crew arrived we had a little snack and checked out the welcome center that details the history of the Dismal Swamp.  Then we headed out onto the boardwalk trail (.5 mile). 

MG had a little visitor!

We didn't check out the logging trails that were also there for hiking as the little legs were tired.  But we'll definitely go back.  There's plenty left to explore!:)

Monday, March 26, 2012

Best Part of Florida?

The Pool!

P and K didn't join us until Wednesday because we didn't want them missing too many days of school.  The little girls were happy to see their older siblings.  And K and P were happy to see the pool (and the family).



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Volleyball in the pool is a fave

BK started off not wanting to put her face in the water.


By Friday, we had convinced her to wear goggles and she started submerging her face. 


She also started jumping off the side into the deep end.

And then it all clicked...

BK can SWIM!

Friday, March 23, 2012

Fishing in Florida

The sleeper hit of our vacation in Florida has been fishing. 

John and MG with her first catch

The beauty I caught

P's big catch

K cast and cast hoping to land a big fish.  But what popped up instead?




The 2 pictures above were taken earlier in the day.

When K went out to fish after dinner, Mr. Gator popped up about 5 feet away from her.  Dad kept fishing much to my dismay!

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The next night, K was back at it with no alligator in sight.  However, the conditions weren't the best.  P had another monster catch...

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Grandpa M and P

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The biggest fish so far!

M caught another small one but after that the fish stopped biting.

But K was bound and determined to catch a fish.  So, early this morning...

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...she was out fishing.  And if you know K, mornings don't come easy for her.  Especially if she's on vacation!

But giving up a little sleep was worth it.

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And who says you can't fish in your pajamas?

Certainly not Molly!

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fish #3

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fish #4

Molly is leading in numbers but Patrick has everyone beat with size.  There's still time though for Kayleen to catch up!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The Oregon Coast

Wednesday afternoon, Thursday, and Friday morning were spent exploring the Oregon Coast.  In particular, Despoe Bay, Lincoln City, and Newport. 

Our first look at the coast and the Pacific Ocean after leaving Portland was Oceanside.


Wednesday night, we stayed at a beach house on Bella Beach in Despoe Bay with John's sister and parents, the groom, and a few cousins.  Bsaurus and Malone had a blast playing on the beach and in the hot tub!

We enjoyed lunch Thursday at Roadhouse 101 in Lincoln City and tried our luck at throwing dollar bills on to the ceiling.

Bsaurus says "GO pack GO" and mine is still all folded up
John's is still folded too...we tried too hard!
Malone tried and tried and hers ended up stuck on a chair instead of the ceiling

After lunch, John, the little girls, Andrew (our niece's husband), and myself went for a hike.  Our destination, Drift Creek Falls and the suspension bridge.  Originally, we were planning on leaving Bsaurus with her grandparents since the disaster of last year's old growth cedar hike was still fresh in my mind.  Bsaurus insisted she wanted to come even after I informed her that this hike was longer and no one would be picking her up and carrying her.  Much to my delight, she enjoyed the hike (2.4 miles)!

 John and the little girls



 The boys and little girls walking out across the bridge

Drift Creek Falls

 me, with a white knuckle grip on the bridge railings

The intrepid hikers almost done with their hike

Following our hike, we headed back to the beach house to pack up and relocate to Lincoln City.  Prior to arriving in Oregon, a visit to a tide pool was high on my list of places to visit.  Flipping through the visitor guides, I found that  Road's End Wayside, was our best bet.

 The girls playing with some kelp that washed up

Heading down to the beach, you cross over a small creek covered in stones.  Then the beach is wide and sandy.  I didn't know where exactly the tide pools were located so we started strolling down the beach. 

it's a long walk
We kept walking and walking.  John a bit slow as he was checking out the swell.  There isn't much in the way of sea shells.  Mostly there are just stones. 

 Off in the distance are cliffs that jut out into the ocean.  Since the beach so far had been only sand, I figured the rocky point was our best bet for tide pools.  But it was still a long way off.


It was near 7pm and the sky had been overcast and the conditions foggy most of the day.  But as we were walking the sun peeked out as it began to set.
And the farther we walked, more and more patches of blue sky appeared.


As we came upon the 2 rocks in the foreground of the picture above, we saw that they were covered in barnacles.  

We quickly walked the short distance from the 2 rocks to the rocky point and found the tide pools!
sea anemone


lots of starfish!



The sun was quickly slipping beneath the horizon and fog was once again rolling in so it was time for to head back towards the car.

Our total combined mileage on the hikes was about 5 miles. There were a few complaints before we got to the tide pools but otherwise the girls were in good spirits the entire day.

After a quick bite to eat at a pizza place close to the hotel and a relaxing soak in the hot tub, my hikers soon fell fast asleep.