Christmas Trip to Florida - Everglades, Siesta Key - Part III

When we decided to go to Florida on vacation, I knew I wanted to take the boys to the Everglades National Park. The best way to see the Everglades is by Airboat. I did a quick internet search and decided to go with Capt. Mitch Airboat Tours (there are a lot of air boat tour companies called Captain "first name"!). We arrived there early in the morning and got on the tour right away. It was a little chilly for Florida weather (low 60's) but perfect weather to visit the Everglades!

I think the highlight for me was driving... flying, riding, boating... hmmm.... through the Mangrove "pathways". We did see a few alligators but lots and lots of birds!

After the airboat tour the boys got to hold a little baby alligator.

Jake was really upset with me because I forgot his go pro memory card :/ so I took the below video for him with my DSLR camera. He wasn't impressed with me!

We decided to drive into Everglade City and have seafood there. We have heard great things about this particular restaurant but were not terribly impressed especially when we saw all the frozen fish packages at the dumpster... oh well!

We then headed over to the Everglades National Park for our stamps (more on than in a separate blog post coming soon) and then Cypress National Preserve for another stamp, a Junior Ranger program and a Ranger program on Manatees.

On the way to Cypress National Preserve we saw many more alligators then we saw on the airboat tour! Oh well...

We came home late that day! And ended the day with take out and some Netflix!

The next day was our 10 year wedding anniversary and New Year's Eve! We left around 8:30am for a stroll on the beach and ended up staying until after sunset! I don't have many pictures from that day (I left my camera at home and we only used the go pro) but it was hands down my favorite day of all of 2016! The weather was perfect! The kids played all day. The food was amazing we had at a small concession... mahi mahi tacos and a frozen pina colada for me! We found some amazing shells and I even found a perfect sand dollar. The sun set was spectactular... I could go on and on! It was just perfect!

The next day we left Florida for a very long drive home to a very cold Ohio. We will be back next Christmas!

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 ;)