Monday, June 27, 2016

Florida Vacation - Everglades Alligator Farm

What do you do with a day in the Florida Keys when you can't go diving? You visit and an alligator farm. Everglades Alligator Farm is the oldest alligator farm in South Florida.

 The airboat ride was super noisy! They gave everyone ear protection for the ride.
 Captain Paul drove the boat. He really liked to do fast spins in the open water area.
It was a little creepy during the first part of the ride. The sides of the boat are not that high. There were alligators swimming all around us in the water.
 I was glad I was not sitting on the outside seat. Do you see that big alligator?
 Boogs was not fond of how noisy the ride was but he did appreciate the speed.
 We went to the Snake Show. Boogs made sure he pet and held all of the snakes that he could.
I told him there was no way he would EVER get a snake as a pet. "But Momma, look how cute this snake is." NO!
The guy who did the alligator show, had a huge scar on one of his arms. He said he got a little close one time and almost lost his arm.
 Of course, Boogs thought the alligators were cute, too.
 We took some time to walk on the nature trail and feed the fish, ducks, turtles, and emu.

 Look at my husband playing hide and seek with that emu.
 Everglades Alligator Farm was a neat little place to visit.
We left the farm and drove about ten miles to reach Everglades National Park. Along the way we kept seeing different animal crossing signs. This one wanted you to watch out for panthers. I am much more comfortable with the deer crossing signs at home.
At Everglades National Park, we stopped at the visitor's center and asked about the Jr. Ranger Program. Boogs got a booklet and started working on it while we toured the visitor's center.

After watching a video about the formation of the Everglades, we went outside to work on a couple of pages of Boogs' booklet.
 Just about the time we were ready to hit the trails, the weather started to change.

A storm blew in with huge lightning and loud thunder. That made up our minds to call it a day. We did not get a chance to see more of the park.
We made it back to our condo, had dinner, and went to bed early.

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Florida Vacation - Islamorada & Marathon

Since Boogs and I got our SCUBA certification, we were ready to take a trip to the ocean to dive. My husband thought the Florida Keys would be a great place for Boogs to experience underwater sea life for the first time. We left home on Friday June 10th to fly to Miami. It was a 1.5 hour drive from the Miami airport to the Seagulls Condo we rented in Islamorada.
 The condo was a two bedroom, two bath place. It had a great view from the balcony.
 We unpacked our stuff and checked out the grounds. Boogs was excited about the pool area.
We went for a late lunch at Marker 88 Cafe. Boogs asked if he could try the conch fritters. He liked them well enough and thought they tasted like calamari. The outdoor tables had glide rockers for seating. Boogs almost fell asleep.

He posed with the giant fiberglass tarpon in the outdoor area. He is such a cutie.
On Saturday, we went on our first dive. It was not a very good experience. We made the mistake of going with a large dive company. They ran the dive in a rushed manner that was kind of stressful. Before the first dive, Boogs forgot to put his weight belt on. The captain made him get in the water without it, saying that Boogs could just put it on in the water. He said other people were waiting and Boogs was holding up the line. It was a mess. My husband and the dive guide were unable to get the belt on. Boogs had to get back out to put it on. The captain was griping about how Boogs should be able to manage his own equipment. If we hadn't been so rushed, the problem never would have occurred. In the water, the dive guide (which we paid extra for) disappeared twice. The two dive sites were good, Rocky Top and Morada, but the water was not all that clear. We were so rushed, that I forgot to grab my underwater camera for the dive. Bummer.

We decided to find some other dive company to dive with for the remainder of our trip. Unfortunately, we weren't able to find anybody to dive with for the next two days. No diving days, made my husband a little sad.

On Sunday, Boogs and I wandered around the condo grounds while Daddy slept in. We walked down to the water and looked for shells. We read for a bit under the palm trees.
The condo came with tennis rackets and keys to the tennis court. Boogs and I attempted to play. If was fun for a while but the humidity and heat got to us pretty quickly.

Later that day, we decided to drive down to Key West. It was about 2 hours from our condo. As we were driving through the town of Marathon, I saw a sign on a fence that said, "Helicopter Rides $59". I read the sign to my husband and he turned the car around for us to go check it out at Marathon General Aviation. I had never been in a helicopter before. We bought the Pigeon Key & Lighthouse Tour package. It cost more than $59, that price was for a 6 minute up and down ride. :-)

Boogs was ready for take-off. 
My honey was ready for take-off.
Flying in a helicopter is a really neat experience. The take-off made me feel like I was on a roller coaster. It was kind of freaky. Once we leveled out, it was an amazing ride.

The pilot flew low over certain areas of water and we were able to see sharks and sea turtles swimming in the water.
The Lighthouse area is a popular place for snorkeling. There were probably 30 boats tied up in the Lighthouse area.
I liked the way the boat's wake made a curvy swish in the water.
We flew over part of the 7 Mile Bridge. What a feat of engineering to build that bridge! We later drove over the 7 Mile Bridge. It took forever to drive across.
Boogs really enjoyed the ride. We returned to the aviation center too soon.
The pilot recommended a place to eat lunch in Marathon, Castaway Waterfront Restaurant and Sushi Bar. My husband was interested in trying a dish with lion fish and Boogs wanted to try Floridian lobster. This place had both and the food was excellent.
After lunch, we continued on down the Key West. We drove around for a bit, did a little souvenir shopping, then ended up at the Southernmost Point of the USA for a quick picture.
There was a line-up of 20 people waiting to take a picture with this landmark. After our picture, we headed back to Islamorada. It was good day.

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Sunday, June 19, 2016

Little Catch-up

We have been having some lazy days since school ended on June 3rd. I thought I would take some time to update the blog for things that have been going on during the past couple of months.

First Day of 4th Grade compared to Last Day of 4th grade. Look how much closer Boogs' head is to the window on the door. He has grown several inches since the first day of school.
Here is Boogs with his 4th grade teacher. He had a great year!

Boogs participated in his school's Math Pentathlon group this year. He had practice every Tuesday for seven months. This is a great shot one of the teacher's took from the school roof. The kiddos are shaped as Pi. I think they took this picture the week of Pi Day (March 14th).
Here's Boogs with his certificate after competing in the regional Math Pentathlon tournament.
Boogs has really developed a love of reading. It make me happy.
Boogs is a goofy boy. He was happy to show off his shark straw.
In May, we went over to a friend's house for a pool party.
Our friends were kind enough to let us try out our new scuba equipment in their pool.
On Memorial Day, we met the local dive shop club at Lake Travis for a swim. The visibility was awful, probably about 7 feet. It was challenging!
My husband is just a couple of feet in front of Boogs in this picture. I could barely see him. It made me nervous being in such murky water.
Boogs enjoyed feeding the fish until one of them nibbled on his hand. We got turned around underwater and ended up stopping our dive after only 16 minutes. I'm sure it will be easier next time.
Here are a couple of pics of Boogs with his grandparents. They came to visit at the end of March/beginning of April.

Summer Swim Team started practicing the first week of May. I think Boogs' favorite part of the swim meets is the Kona Ice truck. He gets a snowcone after each meet.
He also enjoys hanging out in the 9-10 boys tent to play games with the other swimmers.
Boogs' loves being in the water. I captured a perfect shot of his butterfly stoke at the first meet.
So far, we are enjoying our summer!!!