I know it's a bit late for a recap, but we took this trip right after I got my new DSLR camera, so I wanted to share some highlights, especially since it was my first visit to Florida. And with our cross country move and getting settled into our new place, I think that's a pretty good excuse for waiting a few months to look at my pictures, don't you?
We had planned this trip to Anna Maria Island (on the gulf coast between Tampa and Sarasota, so I still haven't seen the Atlantic Ocean yet) with my in laws last April, to roll a vacation and my husband's cousin's wedding all into one. However, there was an urgent family illness that caused them to change their wedding date, but we were already committed to this trip in March, so we went anyway.
My in laws rented two rooms for us at Resort 66, because they have a timeshare there. It was a cute little resort in a non-touristy, quiet area, just the kind of location we like.
While we did take a few walks on the beach, most of our 6 day trip was spent out and about on adventures.
(Taken right in front of the resort, I don't think I've ever seen water this smooth before!)
(Walking on the beach with my husband and his parents)
On our second day in Florida we went to an uh-mazing house that was custom built by an aunt-in-law and her husband. They had about a 270 degree view of the water on a really good sized chunk of land. You can see the house in the first picture below--it was even more amazing inside, and we loved their salt water pool and hot tub!
(Just down the road was *my* farm, where we stopped for strawberries)
(View across the inlet from their driveway)
(The hubs on their boat)
So yeah, they're living the good life down in Florida in a place like that. I'm jealous!
We also saw some amazing sunsets down there!
And my husband apparently hadn't learned how to frame photos, or adjust the settings to get a picture of me with the sunset in the background. Ah, the fun of learning a new camera!
While in Florida, I had 2 things in particular that I had to see. The first was a gator in the wild and the second was a manatee. So one of the days we headed to Myakka River State Park. First we walked out on their "bird walk."
And since we'd spent the morning eating and shopping in Sarasota, we missed their air boat tour, but still found some gators, hanging out near a bridge in the middle of the park.
(This picture was taken with my old point and shoot at 15x zoom. The kit lens that came with my DSLR is seriously lacking in the zoom department. I wish it had come with this lens instead!)
(I specifically made the hubs get a good angle on this photo, so it would look like I was much closer to the shore and gator than I actually was!)
After getting our fill of looking at gators, we took a short walk out to the Canopy Walkway, which is an 85' suspension bridge in the tree canopy, and a 74' tall tower you can climb up, from which you can see for miles!
(View from the top of the tower)
(Rocking the windblown look up on the tower!)
The next day of our trip,
(Yes, I am totally overdressed for a bird sanctuary, but we didn't know we'd be coming here when we left that morning! At least I left my 4 inch heels in the car and was wearing flip flops.)
(Some of the many pelican nests)
(Zoomed in on the nests, you can see the babies under the mama's wings)
(I kept seeing them fight over sticks, which they were using to build their nests, so I offered up a couple more sticks through the fence)
Then, the whole reason I'd dressed up in the first place, I met up for sangria and tapas with Mrs. Buttons (aka Katie of She Likes Ruffles) and Mrs. Rainbow (aka Tiffany of Makes Me Blush). We made my husband take a ridiculous number of pictures before we parted ways (he was still learning about framing, and the fact that, duh, we want our cute outfits in the photos too!).
(We all totally rocked the black and white patterns!)
Another highlight of our trip was a canoe trip we took down the Little Manatee River. Things started off slow and serene, with shallow water, pretty trees, and cute turtles sunning themselves on logs.
(My in laws in the canoe ahead of us. Look at that moss hanging from the trees!)
But it wasn't serene for the whole canoe trip! See, there were several spots where logs had fallen into the river, and you had to be careful to navigate around them. Which was a bit of a challenge, because the water was moving faster around the logs. Well, my in laws finally met a log that got the best of them and they capsized!
And of course, shortly after their capsizing incident, what did we see along the river?
Some abut 3 foot gators, and more turtles! We were all pretty careful about watching out for dangerous logs after seeing the gators, and only got close to logs a couple more times if there were turtles.
(My hand, for reference to how close and big some of these turtles were!)
(The last of the 3 gators we saw canoeing, this was the biggest by far, probably closer to 4 or 4 1/2 feet long)
(Hot and tired after a long afternoon of rowing)
Directly following our canoe trip, we took about a half hour drive north, to fulfill seeing the other animal on my list: manatees! Near Apollo Beach there is an electric station, where manatees like to hang out and enjoy the warm water. They even have little viewing platforms and a gift shop. Trust me when I say I was super giddy to see some "sea cows"! I think they're just adorable with their little snouts, it's just too bad you couldn't see much else of them.
(A manatee flipper)
(I'm pretty sure the ones in real life are a bit bigger than this statue outside the gift shop)
Another fun animal sighting happened the Thursday of our trip, or the only time we really spent any time hanging out at the beach (what can I say, I'm more of a "lets have as many adventures as possible" type of vacationer, I get bored pretty quickly of just siting on the beach.). We saw wild dolphins from the shore right in front of our resort! This is where having a zoom lens would have really come in handy, but at least with the DSLR quality, I was able to zoom in and crop on my computer to see the dolphins in these photos.
(The dolphins didn't seem afraid of humans at all, and came right up a few times. That head to the far left is my husband. Sadly, I had to stay on the shore and keep the camera dry.)
(My hubs, with a dolphin swimming up super close to check him out)
A few final highlights: trying new food. I got to try soft shell crab and conch fritters for the first time! Both delish, although the crab was a bit scary to look at.
And a few more sunsets. Every night we took a drink out to the beach in front of our resort to watch the sun go down. I even set the camera to continuous shot to try to capture the "green flash," but no such luck.
(Why yes, that IS this dress that I wrote about!)
Ah, Florida! It was an awesome trip, cut short by the fact that we had to swing up to North Carolina to find a house to rent, and all of the stress involved in that. But it was a wonderful vacation to take right before diving into our moving craziness that consumed the last half of March and first half of April!
And the best part? Since my husband has family down there, I'm sure we'll be back!
Have you ever been to Florida before? Did you see any cool animals or go on adventures, or are you more of a lay on the beach type of vacationer?