Christmas Trip to Florida - Tarpon Springs, Tampa, Siesta Key - Part II

After we left the Homosassa area we drove on to Siesta Key, but not before we didn't make two stops! First stop: Tarpon Springs! When Scot suggested a pit stop at Tarpon Springs, I was honestly skeptical. I have never heard of it before. He used to visit TS with his Dad and buy sponges there for race horses. We arrived in TS and I was immediately smitten by the small Greek town. Soon after we parked, a lady called us over and sold us tickets for a Sponge Diving Tour. It wasn't expensive and she gave us Finn's ticket free (because I lied about his age, and Finn totally gave me away and she thought it was hilarious!) and so we went. 

Honestly it was so much fun and very interesting. I never thought about where sponges come from... the Sponge Factory? and to learn about the different types of sponges and how they are harvested from the ocean floor just totally blew our (especially mine) minds.

The tour guides even did a demonstration dive and the kids were able to "wear" his diving helmet.

Afterwards we found this great little Greek restaurant. The kids wrote good old fashion postcards to their friends while waiting for our food. Jake had a pound of shrimp that he absolutley loved. Scot and I had an Gyro and Finn, a big plate of Pasta. Scot gave him the 101 in Spaghetti Fork Twirling.

After lunch we knew we wanted to buy a Sponge, but we don't really like cheesy Souvenir shops. It didn't take us long to find a little stand with just the perfect sponges. We ended up buying two sponges and buying the BEST Lemonades anyone of us ever had. Seriously, I am not really into Lemonade but I could have sucked this whole cup down in a few minutes!

Everywhere in Tarpon Springs you see these bikes... love it!

From Tarpon Springs we drove on to Tampa to visit Scot's old Elementary School and Baseball field. Obviously nothing looked like when he was a kid, but it was still interesting for the boys to see where Daddy played baseball and went to school.

We arrived in the evening at Siesta Key at another amazing Airbnb and headed right away to the beach for the sunset and a little swimming! Enjoy Jake's video!

EDIT: after putting this post together I noticed a little boy releaving himself after being in the car "forever" and a large cup of lemonade ;)

Christmas Trip to Florida - Atlanta, Homosassa, Crystal River - Part I

We surprised the boys this year with a trip to Florida. It worked out perfectly. They had no idea. Scot teased them before Christmas with hinting that we will be going skiing in Wisconsin over Christmas break and they were not amused by that idea. Christmas morning came and the very last present under the tree was a box filled with their own swim trunks, goggles, a little kayaker, a US map and a note. Here is what happened:

TOMORROW? Yes! They were so excited! We packed the car up the evening of the 25th and left at about 6 am on the 26th! We stopped in Atlanta at the Martin Luther King memorial, visited the Ebenezer church where he preached and went on to The Varsity. The Varsity is a place we have hard about before and wanted to try it out. The ambience in there was really cool, but the food was less than mediocre.

On our way down to Florida we also stopped in a large Pecan store in Georgia, where we did not buy anything with Pecan's but Licorice. What can I say... I love me some Licorice. Scot also saved a turtle running across the highway.

Our first stop in Florida was in Homosassa. Our AirBnB was awesome! Really big, lots of room for us, very pretty up in the trees and pet alligators in the backyard!

The next morning we went kayaking with manatees on Crystal River. We booked with the Crystal River Kayak Company and I can only recommend them! Everything was perfect. We ended up actually swimming with two manatees at Three Sisters Spring. The water was ice cold in there but so worth it. Finn needed a little extra warming on top of the kayak afterwards. We booked two tandem kayaks for 4 hours and including swimming and kayaking out in the bay, it was perfect timing. Jake got this awesome video of a manatee next to his kayak with his go pro.

You probably notice Finn's blue gloved hand in the pictures below. Unforunaly he burned his hand before Christmas and it was bad enough that we needed to protect it a little more, so he could swim with his Manatees (his second favorite animal btw)

During our stay in Homosassa we went to the beach. As soon as we arrived on the beach a thick cloud of fog rolled in and stayed! This didn't keep Jake out of the water... not much ever keeps him out of the water including water snakes! Anyways, while Jake swam we watched this guy catching crabs! It was pretty facinating. He threw a string with a large piece of chicken tied around it out in the water, stood really still and waited for a crab to grab the chicken, then he would slowly pull the string in until he could grab the crab. More often than not the crab would let go before he could grab it and he had to start over again.

Part II will be up soon!