In Our Own Words

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Stephanie and Jason

"To go boldly go, where we have not"

Travel BLOG

June 2007

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  • 6/26/07 -  We have just left Tom and Ro's house. They live in a wonderful place that I hesitate to tell you were it is. Why? Because this is my kind of paradise! It is on and island with friendly people, amazing beaches, and it feels like home. Jay has been asking me since we hit Florida, "Do you think you could retire here?"  Now I can honestly say yes! But I wonder, do I love it here because of the place or because of the people? Tom and Ro have always been my closest aunt and uncle. I knew as a child that if anything happened to mom and dad that I would live with them. So in a way they feel like parents. But it just wasn't them; it was meeting the family on the beach every night to watch the sunsets. To end every day surrounded by great and loving people was heaven.  We would like to thank everyone for their thoughts and suggestions during our visit. You all made us feel at home! There isn't a doubt in my mind that we will return for more visits. There is so much more that we need to see and explore. We will say that we saw more wildlife in 20 minutes at Fort De Soto than we did in the Everglades. We saw a manatee, dolphins, fish, and birds. All off the pier there. Although I have to agree with Tom that St. Pete beach is better. We tried to go to a Tampa Bay Devil Rays game, but I guess everyone heard we were coming because the place was mobbed. We decided that it wasn't that important to stand in line, in the hot sun, for 30 minutes to get tickets. Other highlights include, Ro's wonderful cooking, swimming in the Gulf, Ice cream trips, and Tom the tour guide! Oh! And let's not forget their new laptop. It was so great to let the geek in me out to play!! This wonderful place, amazing people, and especially Tom and Ro will always hold a special place in my heart! With a teary smile…. Steph

  • 6/21/07 - Yesterday we went to Everglades National Park. It was one of the first places that I thought of when we were planning the trip. We would see alligators and manatees. There would be many miles of hiking platforms with much to see. Well we were both a little disappointed. The only thing there is miles and miles of road. We got up especially early to beat the heat and get there to spend the day. We entered the park just before 9 a.m. With the humidity rising, we entered the park proceeding straight to the first visitors center. First we checked into the boat tours and found that there was one leaving at 1. We then walked along the two trails nearby. One along the waters and grasslands. Very peaceful and calm, but no alligators. Only one turtle was seen. The next was through the foliage, which is called a hammock. Even though we put on bug spray, mosquitoes immediately swarmed us. It was a lovely experience speed walking along the path. We saw a sign later that stated, "feeding the mosquitoes was a natural part of the ecosystem" which we weren't so happy to oblige!  After a couple more stops along the road that was straight for 10 miles or more and turned into a blur in the distance, we arrived at the Flamingo visitor center. That was a big thumbs down! Steph was chased out of the restroom by a flock of starving mosquitoes. And the display was bad. Then it was onto the boat tour. The tour guide was very knowledgeable, pointing out the different palm trees and birds. He showed us his pictures of things we would soon know we would never see! Manatees, alligators, snakes, bald eagles and sunsets. He told us that we could also buy about 300 pictures on cd in the store for 9.95$. Yeah right!! It was a nice 2-hour ride around the canals and lakes, only half of which was narrated. Well at least we got to see the park and then it was back to camp to do some soaking in the pool. Later after cooling down we got some pizza and beer. It turned out to be a good day!  Jay and Steph

  • 6/20/07 - Boca, Biscayne, and the Coral Castle… This week Jay and I visited with my Aunt Nancy.  It has been way too long since we had seen each other!  We had a good time.  She is looking and doing great. She has always been one of the women I look up to and she still is.  For a woman about to hit the big 80 birthday (in another year and a half), she is doing and going around like she is a woman only turning 40.  She told us about how she volunteered for Gumbo Limbo working with turtles.  I so want to do that someday.  So we went to the nature center and the turtles were awesome!  Check out the pictures and you will agree.  Then there was fun to be had at the art center.  Nancy still has this great laugh and it made it easy for all of us to laugh and have a great time.  So thanks Nancy.  Then Jay and I set out for Biscayne National park.  I was so excited because we planned to go snorkeling, a first for me.  So as soon as we got our stuff settled at the campsite I called to reserve a spot.  Then the fact that we are vacationing in Florida in the off-season became super clear….no snorkeling trips until Saturday.  So no snorkeling for us.  We still went tot the park and the nature center is cool, but 95% of the park is under water.  I guess we will just have to come back.  To make me feel better Jay took me to one of my cheesy tourist sights…Coral Castle.  Jay got a bigger kick out of it than I did.  Ed Leedskalnin a 5 foot 100 pond Latvian was jilted and left at the alter at 16.  He so loved this woman that he began to build a tribute to her out of coral….all by himself.  Some of the pieces that he worked with are over 150 tons!  It is a big mystery how he did it.  The tour guide we had was awesome.  He did a lot of talking about the pyramids and how magnetism, landlines, meridian lines, etc. assisted Ed in being strong enough to build the castle.  Oh Cathy how your Dad would love this.  But check out the website and I am sure you will agree.  Well it is safe to say Jay's plan to cheer me up worked.  Well the castle and the promise that we will snorkel someday.  Caribbean anyone? As a side note the weather down here has been brutal, heat indexes of 105.  If you have a suggestion of how to deal better with the heat I am open to suggestions.  With a smile and a wave - Steph

  • 6/17/07 - Sorry to all you travel watchers out there. We have been at my mom's house and haven't had a wireless signal to update the site. Here is a short story of what has been going on this past week. We started out by unloading the Jeep to go through the stuff that we have packed. We had to decide whether we needed some of the stuff we had that we had not used. As the saying goes "our eyes were bigger than our stomachs". We are boxing up a few of our things to leave here so we can call for it later. It has been hot, so naturally we had to spend some time by the pool. We laughed when we heard that the pool was heated but maybe that was for the winter months (if there is such a thing down here). Next we went to Bill's house for drinks, crab, and billiards. After a great feast and lots of laughs we got up the next day and went fishing on Bill's boat. I now think I am the cooler when it comes to fishing. Bill is a very good fisherman but we didn't catch a thing. We did see a large barracuda under the boat and that is what Bill said the problem was. We had predator fish and that was driving away the other fish. We all still had a good. The rest of the week was spent with a dinner party and dancing, a bar hopping tour, and sitting by the pool. It was nice to have some time to relax a bit this week and re-organize. The gnome keeps pushing us to get on the road, so soon he will be happy. Jason

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