I've recently been going through old photos, many to upload onto my facebook account. I came across this set of photos I took on my cell phone, Feb. 2009, during a family vacation to the Florida Keys.
One of the first places we went to was a wildlife conservatory. There were dolphin shows, sea lion show, a parrot show, and other animals to see. The animals are all ones that could not be released back into the wild.
The sea turtles are very large. There was one large turtle that was born with a deformed shell, she had to wear a life vest in order to swim correctly. I could not get a picture of her, however, because my cell phone's camera is no good. This is one sea turtle picture that turned out ok.
There were many streams that showed the many native fish in the Florida Keys. These are barracudas.
Driving to the Keys you drive past the Everglades, home of the Florida crocodile. I was hoping to see some on the side of the road, but no luck. This one was seen at the park.
Also, past a certain point driving in South Florida, I noticed that there were no crows. It was strange to me since I am used to seeing crows everyday. In the Florida Keys there are many pelicans and other large birds. There are also wild chickens. They are protected and considered by locals to be the "national bird". I spotted a wild chicken at a local sporting supply store.
My husband and I went on a deep sea fishing trip with my father-in-law. It was my first time, and I'm not much of a fisher. I snapped this picture as we were leaving the shore. The water is beautiful green near the islands.
When we got out to sea the weather became a little stormy. My husband, Bobby, became sea sick and spent most of the time laying down. I too became sea sick later, but I kept fishing after throwing up! My father-in-law told me to just look out at the horizon, not at the water, and it helped me to not get sick. When the fishing boat was moving to different fishing spots, we were followed by wild dolphins!
When we came back from the fishing trip, the pelicans were ready to try and steal fish. We gave away the fish that we caught.
There are some nice restaurants in the Florida Keys. However, there are two things that are not there that I am used to seeing everywhere in Seattle: teriyaki restaurants and espresso stands! A world without lattes and mochas is so foreign to me! There was one quaint little coffee house, but they only did gourmet roast coffees and wines.
My favorite memory of this vacation was the one time Bobby and I got to go out on our own. We rented a kayak and explored the mangrove forests! During the whole trip I was admiring the mangrove trees from the road side, so it was amazing to go kayaking in the trees.
The mangroves grow in the water and twist around to form thick walls and caves. The photo above was taken from inside a mangrove "cave".
These two pictures are blurry, but give it a dreamy look to me. You can see an entrance to another dark "cave" in the picture above. Most of the "caves" were very narrow and hard to maneuver, so we had to grab the branches sometimes to pull ourselves along. Climbing the branches were little purple crabs! We had to be careful not to grab a purple crab when grabbing branches!
You can see the tip of the kayak, and see how narrow it is in the mangrove "cave".
We also visited Key West and walked among the shops. Since we were there in February there were no young people there celebrating spring break, so we were lucky to not be crowded. And the weather was still nice without being overly hot.
When we were kayaking, I did apply sunblock, but I made the mistake of not bringing it with me in the kayak! We kayaked for 2 hours, so I did end up with a sunburn. The next day I could barely walk, and by the time we were leaving for the airport it was too painful. I had to use a wheelchair at the airport. We had to take two planes home, first one was to North Carolina, and then to Seattle. When we got to North Carolina my legs had swollen and blistered and I had to be taken to the hospital. :-( I had third degree burns! After getting morphine and several other pain killers, they let me fly back home, and it took many more weeks to recover from the burns on my legs. I did take pictures of the burns and blisters but I won't share them here! They are too gross (blisters as large as soda cans!). If you need a good reason to wear sunblock, or if you are morbidly curious, I can email you the pictures, but you've been warned!
Despite that, the trip, and especially the kayaking, was well worth it.