Florida Trip - Bradenton

We left our amazing AirBnb in Weeki Wachee to spend 2 nights in Bradenton, Florida. Unfortunately our AirBnb there was a bust (after 9 amazing experiences we were doomed for a bad one).

On our way to Bradenton we decided on a detour at Fort Soto. It was an overcast day but we did enjoy a long and relaxing stroll on the beach. We collected some of the biggest shells we have ever seen and the boys tried to find crabs...

Anyone know what kind of fish Scot helped back in the water (it totally swam off again) or what kind of bird is bathing in the above pictures?

The fort itelf was meh... nothing to exciting but it made for a great stop on our way to Breadenton! We had a little lunch near the fort too that was also meh... can't only have amazing days ;)

As mentioned above our AirBnB experience wasn't the greatest but it was situated on a river with a boat (kayak) dock and that was worth it. Just a small kayak paddle away and we saw some pretty cool wildlife.

About the gator... we arrived at our AirBnB and the first thing the kids wanted to do is snorkel. They were pretty upset with us when we told them absolutley no! Until we saw this alligator and then I told them "NOW you may snorkel" haha

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On our 2nd day we decided to spend the majority of the day at Siesta Beach. Unfortunately everyone in Florida must have had the same idea. It took us forever to get to the beach, only to drive around for an hour to find a parking spot, then trying to get back out of this traffic nightmare and to a different beach. What should have been a 30 minute drive took us well over 3 hours. We finally arrived at Lido Beach and it was perfect! We found a parking spot right by the beach and it wasn't as packed as Siesta Beach! We swam and played for hours until the late afternoon.

On our way back we stopped at Phillippi Creek Oyster Bar! The sun was setting, the was was amzing and the kids behaved! We couldn't have asked for a better dinner!

What is your guess... Did Finn eat an oyster or not?

We enjoyed our time in Bradenton but couldn't wait for our next few stops! On the road again...

Florida Trip - Kayaking with Manatees on Christmas Day

Christmas Day was probably one of the most memorable Christmases ever.

We decided to limit the kids presents and budget this year by a lot. We made sure we "warned" the kids that Christmas might look different this year and that our trip was the big present. As always they got a gift from Santa, which this year was a snorkeling mask for each boy, something we are going to be using a lot in 2018. Finn really wanted a few books (Dog Man), a map of Vietnam, a Playmobil helicopter and I threw in some T-shirts. Jake got an underwater knife, a book about the Vietnam war, a camping chair, and also some T-shirts. A big present this year was them getting a Star Wars drone to share from their Opa. Scot surprised me with a new (very comfortable) sleeping pad that I will be using a lot in 2018 as well. Scot got some new kayaking worthy sandals and a very nice flannel shirt. And like every year we got a new Family Game. This year we got Bears vs Babies and we love it!

I was worried because Christmas did look different this year. Not in our home, less presents, only a tiny Christmas tree but as soon as the kids walked in the living room Christmas morning and announced: "That's a lot more presents than we expected!" I knew this day is going to be amazing.

We spent the majority of the morning, unwrapping gifts, playing with them and making the best Christmas breakfast! Scrambled eggs, with the leftover shrimp and crab legs from the night before, plus baked beans (the British in me) and toast! It was sooooo good!

After our late breakfast we slowly got ready for our next kayaking adventure trip... The Chassahowitzka River! Chassahowitzka is again pretty close to Weeki Wachee and when we arrived we were the only ones at the boat ramp!!! Yipeee!!!

As soon as we got in the water with our kayaks, we were greeted by 8 very curious manatees. They played for a very long time with us. Pushing and bumping into our kayaks. It was literally like in a dream. We had a hard time saying goodbye but we knew there was more to see.

Not far from the boat ramp we found these underwater caves/ swimming holes. The boys had a blast snorkeling in them and it was a great opportunity to try out their new masks! A few of these caves were connected and Jake really wanted to try to dive from one end to the other but signs around the area were warning of the danger and deaths that have occurred in these caves. So, no diving for Jake!

After playing for a long time we kept kayaking to explore the rest of the river. Chassahowitzka is seriously an amazing part of Florida and probably one of my favorites! The river is full of wild life and so crystal clear. We paddled for a few miles when I spotted a crab in the water…. ok let’s stop for a second and wind back!

For the past few trips we have made we have started creating Individual Bucket lists for each trip. For this trip it looked like this:

Finn really wanted to catch a medium size fish or a crab, Jake wanted to catch and cook a crab, Daddy wanted to see Little Havana and I wanted to eat an Empanada. Thank you, Kate, for this great tip.

So, I see a crab in the water and I barley spoke the words: A CRAB! Jake jumped into the water (mid paddle in the middle of the river) grabbed his net and scooped up the crab. A few minutes later he caught two more and stored them in the hatch of his kayak to enjoy later for dinner. He was one happy boy and BOOM! his Bucket list item for this trip was filled.

Once back at the boat ramp, Scot and I loaded the kayaks on the trailer while the kids snorkeled with the manatees for a little. What an unbelievable experience that was for the boys.

 

We got home, took showers and changed right back into out Christmas PJ’s. The kids watched some YouTube videos on how to best cook the crabs (I wanted nothing to do with this) and their dinner was served. I finished the smoked salmon dip from the night before and everyone was happy!

I can easily say it was one of the most memorable Christmases we ever had as a family!