Mary and I went to Florida March 6-17.the main reason for the trip was to attend Mike and Melanie’s wedding in Gainesville on March 14. We decided to head down a week early to visit with Family.
The day after we arrived, we took a walk on the beach, then headed to Gumbo Limbo Environmental Complex in Boca Raton. Gumbo Limbo is on a strip of land between the ocean and Lake Wyman. They have a boardwalk through the mangrove with an observation tower (see picture on left). They also have a marine turtle conservation program. They had a lot of turtles in their facility earlier this year due to the cold spell in the area. when the water gets too cold, the turtles can go into shock and drown. The center rescues the turtles and nurses them back to health, releasing them when the waters warm up again. There are more photos in the Gumbo Limbo gallery.
My niece Molly and her friend Jen arrived on Monday. They immediately started on Spring Break when we got back to Joe’s place and met up with his crew. Despite the evening festivities, on Tuesday, Mike, Molly, Jen, Mary and I went to Everglades National Park. We entered the park near Homestead and stopped at the Ernest F. Coe Visitor Center. Next, we did a couple short hikes in the Royal Palm area: the Gumbo Limbo and the Anhinga Trails. We saw a lot of gators (right) and birds.
We drove all the way out to the Flamingo Visitor Center, stopping at a number of short trails along the way. Near Flamingo, we saw a lot of osprey, including the one on the left. There were 3 or 4 nests visible from the visitor center. After lunch, we started back out of the park.
On our way out of the park, we stopped at the Mahogany Hammock for another short loop. At the trailhead, there were signs about some resident barred owls. When we were on the loop, we heard there were some owlets, and managed to find them (pictured on right)! It was really cool seeing the pair of young owls. There are more pictures of the owls ans other critters in the Everglades gallery. On the way back to Joe and Mike’s place, we stopped to visit Joan, Andy and Carlos. We enjoyed the visit, including a nice dinner and way too much pie!
The rest of the week was fairly quiet. On Friday, we spent most of the day driving up to Gainesville, with a short stop in Orlando to pick up Maggie. The three days in Gainesville were a lot of fun. It was great catching up with all the family, and Mike and Melanie’s wedding on Pi Day (3.14) was very nice.
While we were in Gainesville, I had a chance to meet up with my friend Dori and her husband Frank. They took us to an great coffee shop (Volta) and showed us around Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park. We saw a ton of gators on the La Chua Trail (picture on left). We ended up visiting the park each morning we were in Gainesville. While visiting the south end of the park, near the visitor center, we found a pair of bald eagles with a nest (picture on right). There are more pictures posted in the Paynes Prairie gallery.
Mark and Jane headed to South Florida after the wedding. We got to spend a couple more days with them before we flew home. Mike took us out on the Intracoastal (picture on left) one day looking for manatee. We didn’t manage to find any.
Mark, Jane, Mary and I went to lunch at My Big Fat Greek Restaurant after boating. Wouldn’t you know, there was a manatee in the canal next to their deck! It was resting when we arrived, but even after it woke up a bit, it didn’t do much (picture on right). Even without the manatee sighting, we all enjoyed the restaurant, including the Greek coffee. There are more pictures from the days events in the South Florida Gallery.
On our last night, we went to watch Nick play baseball (pictures in the gallery). We had a nice dinner at Joe’s place. In the morning we all went to Shoney’s for brunch, then Mark and Jane took us to the airport. Overall it was a great trip. We really enjoyed the wedding and seeing everyone. Where’s the next reunion?