Florida Trip - Devil's Den

We ended 2017 with an amazing trip to Florida. This year we decided we are going early and spend Christmas in one of our favorite places AND bring our own kayaks.

You can read about last years trip here. This year I am going to post these not by days but by activity.

I will be posting about our experience at Devil’s Den, our Christmas Eve kayak trip on the Weeki Wachee river and our dinner at The Freezer. Our favorite Christmas Day ever and a quick visit to Little Havana and our snorkeling trip in Key Largo.

Let’s start with our Devil’s Den experience.

Every time I research new places to go, I hop on Pinterest to see what other people suggest. And Devil’s Den popped up a lot! I wasn’t sure if we are going to be able to do it but I figured I could bookmark it for just in case.

We spent the night in Macon, Georgia after a long drive the previous day and lots and lots of traffic in Atlanta. From Macon to our first Airbnb in Weeki Wachee it was about a 5 hour drive but check in wasn’t until 4pm. So, I needed to find something to do for the kids on the way to the Airbnb without adding tons of extra driving time. (We were done driving). I remembered Devil’s Den and a quick check on MapQuest confirmed that we would be literally driving by. I was a bit worried about the water temps… I read reviews of people complaining about the water being to cold, but it couldn’t hurt to check it out.

We arrived at Devil’s Den and I was surprised to see that it wasn't as packed as I expected it to be after reading the reviews. After a quick check on how cold the water actually is (72 degrees year round) and finding out that YES there is an option rent wet suits we decided to go for it.

I think with tax and renting the fins and masks (required) we payed around $120 for the 4 of us. We opted against the dry suits for now and check to see if we can handle the water (we could!). We quickly changed into out swim suits, grabbed some towels and off we went.

Devil’s Den is basically a cave you enter down a steep staircase and at the bottom is this crystal clear spring. As I understand you can dive 60 ish feet down into some cave systems, but we came just for the snorkeling. It was definitely cold but nothing we couldn’t handle. We had an amazing time snorkeling for 2 hours and saw a bunch of fish and even some turtles.

Finn has never snorkeled before and it took him a little time to get used to the snorkel and the fins. He was about to give up but Scot really worked with him and after about 45 minutes he was a pro and loved it! We all took a quick break after about an hour but the 2 hours we payed for was the perfect amount of time.

This was the perfect activity for our first day in Florida and we highly recommend it!

I have some video footage of Devil's Den but I can't my memory card to work... ;(

3 Lakes Trip - Saranac Lake - Part 2

We met up with friends from back home in Saranac Lake. It was raining hard that day and I must have checked the weather forecast every 20 minutes... you know just in case the 4 day weather forecast of rain and thunderstorm will change to sunny and dry just because I checked! 

We had a quick lunch, purchased a few last minute items at Aldi and headed to the lake. Changed into our rain gear, unloaded kayaks and loaded them with our gear. One last prayer for our safety and a break in the rain, shuttling the trailer to a different parking lot, going back to that parking lot because of a forgotten life jacket and then getting pulled over and we were finally off. 4 adults, 5 kids, 1 canoe, 1 tandem kayak, and 3 single kayaks plus a lot of gear!

As soon as we started paddling, the rain stopped. Hallelujah! We arrived at our campsite, had enough time to unload the gear from the kayaks, set up camp, and started dinner.... and then the rain came again. And it rained, and rained and rained. The kids were all wet and cold.  The mosquitos seemed to all know that we were trapped under the tarp and they had a feast... We ate dinner (chili that we made at home, froze and reheated on our camp stove), quickly cleaned up and went to bed before 9pm. We felt defeated, especially with the forecast looking so grim.

It rained hard all night long! We woke up to clouds and soon after the sun came out! And the sun stayed out, no more rain for the rest of out stay!!! 

We made breakfast (eggs, bacon and sausages) and just hung around the campsite for a few hours. The little kids played "adventurers" in the woods, jumping from rock to rock looking to find paradise! The big kids (and the Dads) had a lot of fun gathering firewood (slim pickings and everything was soaked) and cutting down dead trees with a small hatchet.

After a few hours of just hanging out we packed up sandwiches for lunch and left to explore the lake with the kayaks. Our destination was the other side of the lake, paddle up Saranac River and kayak through the locks. We did this last year and loved it. You can read about it HERE.

It's about a 3 mile paddle (maybe a little more) to the other side of the lake and up to Saranac Lake. We went through the lock and kayaked a little bit further down the river. We stopped and we all floated down the river together while having lunch. On the way we saw a beaver dam, lots of loons, ducks and even otters! 

On our way back through the lock we decided to stop and stretch our legs. The lock operator let the kids help operate the locks and explained how everything worked.

On our way back to the campsite we stopped at a few unoccupied campsites to look for firewood. We really lucked out at one site (thank you #66) and brought a bunch of firewood home. We ended the night with some dinner (Hobo packs) and S'mores. 

Part 2 or Saranac Lake will come soon! I have a feeling this is getting a little to long! 

You can click here to read about PART 1, PART 3 & PART 4 of our trip!