Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Florida, Day Four

okay... the final day of the trip... when we were on the plane, flying to Florida, we were brainstorming what else we should do while we were out there, so we got out a map to see what was around. Well, being that neither chris nor I know *anything* about geography. We were both surprised to see how close the Bahamas were to Florida. We thought, for awhile, about getting plane tickets for a day trip out there, but that didn't work out. Well, since we had the beach boys "Kokomo" song stuck in out heads, we decided to try the next best thing: Key Largo (montego. Baby, why don't we go... )

After looking into it, we found that Key Largo is about a 4 1/2 hour drive from where we were, which is a long drive. But, when we're *that* close, how could we not go? So we left Discovery Cove a little early, went to the hotel to pack up our things, & took off toward Key Largo. We drove 1/2 way there, & stopped in Miami.

Here's the view from our room the next morning (reminder: click on any picture to view it large):

of course, we had to stop at some point to take pictures of our awesome ride:

The majority of the drive down was on the big long stretch of road called the Florida Turnpike. It's a really great fast-moving road, but you hafta stop about 10 times, or so, to pay a toll --& i'm not talking about a 25 cent toll. at one point we paid like $12! Anyway, the toll stops became such a regular part of out trip, that we figured we should photograph it. :) We tried to get a picture of the lady who took our money, but she told us no. --and then suddenly changed her mind as we were driving away, but it was too late.

driving along some more, we passed tons of palm tree farms.

Finally, we made it to Key Largo. If you have Google Earth (a really cool, free program that i would recommend to anyone), you can type in "Caribbean Watersports" under businesses & it'll take you there. If you look toward the water, & see the pier that we were on. Then, look out further into the water to see "Butternut Key." See the island way off in the distance, below? That's Butternut Key. :) (this photo is now what we use for our computer desktop)
At Caribbean watersports, they took us on a boat ride, out to some of the little islands nearby. These islands, aren't really made out of land, but of huge clumps of Mangrove trees. They're actually part of Everglades National Park.
This is a picture of the "island" a little closer up.

The mangrove trees send out tons of roots into the water, in order to get enough fresh water to survive. If you click on this picture to see it larger, you can see a bunch of white stuff down toward the bottom of their roots. That's salt that the trees have filtered out of their system from the ocean water.

Another shot of the stunning sky & water.

As we boated around, we saw 2 sharks in the water (can't remember what kind), some barracudas. needlefish, & other fun things. The guide said that he sees dolphins every couple days, but we didn't see any. Next, he took a net & scraped it along the floor of the ocean (the water was only a few feet deep), & pulled out all sorts of fun, tiny little creatures, including seahorses! it was hard to focus through the plastic tub that we put them in, but here's a fuzzy picture of a seahorse:

Another: you can see his head on the bottom right.
Chris holds one in his hand. These little guys are maybe only an inch long. Tiny!!

After that, the guide took us to an area covered in jellyfish. These guys all sit at the bottom of the ocean, with their tentacles sticking up. Apparently, they're not all that toxic, so if you hold them, all they'll do is make your hand itch. So we caught a couple & had a look. I was too scared to hold one, so I took the pictures. :)

floating down to the bottom, after we threw him back.

Another, bigger guy, feet up.

After our "environmental tour," we sat at the outdoor bar & had lunch. Then we took some jet skis out for a little ride. Then a quick picture before we left for the long drive back home to orlando.
an interesting fact: Everybody thinks of the Fl. Keys as beautiful white sandy beaches. But actually, they're covered w/trees! the only reason we're standing on sand is because the hotel ships it in, for the tourists!

This is the porch of the hotel in Key largo. I liked the look of all the cool fans. Also thought it was interesting that the fans are all tied in place (see the wires coming out around the sides?), so they don't get blown around during a hurricane.

Driving back home, the stretch along the keys is a little 2 lane road that's under construction. They must have problems w/people, because we passed these staggered signs a few times:
They say "Patience pays only 2 miles until passing zone" :)

Another sunpass stop.

We called the Florida turnpike, "the Florida Autobahn" The speed limit was 70, so people easily went 80-100. A couple times, when the road was clear, chris floored it for a little fun. I snapped this picture a little late. His top speed was actually about 160. :)
lots of fun! we returned to our hotel in Orlando, & took a walk down to the lake, where we renewed our vows (an anniversary tradition). Then we went to our room & packed up.


Ruth said...

Sighhh....ohhhh...that is soooo niiiice....siiiighhhh! I'm so glad you 2 could do that. What a good idea to renew the vows - we should do that too. :)

Dog snob said...

What a fun trip!!! I'm glad you guys had such a great time :)

Karina said...

Wow! Sounds like you had a fantastic time.

I'm going to Florida sometime next summer, will be looking forward to discovering all the great and marvellous sealife!