Saturday, March 21, 2009

Florida: Pirates, Mermaids, and Seacows

A few days after Robb's second surgery, we headed to Florida for my sister's wedding and a little R&R. The weather was beautiful the entire time: low 80s, no rain, and hardly any humidity. We managed to make it to the beach a couple of times and got thoroughly burned in the process. But man, it was nice to lay on the sand and not have snow or rain threatening the day. Plus, it's always fun to see the Pirate Ship.
Even though most of our time was spent with family visits, Robb and I managed to sneak away one night to the town of Weeki Watchee. Weeki Watchee is a tiny little town in Florida where my Grandpa owns a riverhouse. Before the whole surgery thing, we had planned on doing some kayaking and swimming; sutures put that plan on hold. But I've grown up visiting the riverhouse and Robb had never visited before, so we decided to head there anyway. My Grandpa rode up with us to the house to show us around and then he planned on taking back his motorhome that evening. To say my Grandpa is a hunter is an understatement. His riverhouse is really an homage to his trophies. I had warned Robb, but I don't know if he truly expected the enormity of the dead animals on the walls. So he and Grandpa played with the guns for a little bit. Next time I'm sure Robb will have to shoot with him.
Weeki Watchee's fame are the mermaids. The Weeki Watchee river is fed by a freshwater spring. Since 1947 mermaids have been putting on a show for the public in the spring. I saw the show a couple of times as a kid and I just had to bring Robb. Robb was super-excited to see the show too because a few years ago he saw a show about forgotten roadside attractions, and the Weeki Watchee mermaids were featured. While we were glad to see the mermaids, my adult self was very sad in this little dilapidated park. It's quite run down, has really only three attractions (in the summer a waterpark opens for the public), and cost an astounding $14.00 a person. The park has almost closed several times in the past decades, most recently in 2008. But the state of Florida recently bought it and hopefully much needed renovations will happen soon.
After Weeki Watchee we headed to Homassassa Springs. The State Park here has a manatee (seacow) refuge and a mini-zoo of local animals (much like Enumclaw's Northwest Trek). We were pretty impressed with this little park. The funniest part of the park was Lu. When the park first opened decades ago, it was an exotic animal park. When Florida took over the park, they decided to make the focus local animals and shipped of the exotics. But people were very upset with the idea of Lu the Hippo leaving; so the governor of Florida signed a proclamation to make Lu an official Florida citizen.
All in all, the Florida trip was a nice combo of vacation/tourist time, surgery recovery time, and family time. Wedding report to follow...

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