Tuesday, May 31, 2011

pictures from floooooridaaaaah (part two)

my favorite picture from our trip, shot by our friend, jodi. check out the size of that horseshoe crab! (we brought it home.)

part two of the florida pictures: naples area to amelia island. enjoy!

look out sophie! this is front room of the skunk ape research headquarters, a place of which we had very different expectations. while we never heard one word spoken about the skunk ape, we loved it anyway--it is one of our very favorite places that we visited. if you are ever driving along the tamiami trail, make sure you pay them a visit!

meet rick, our guide through the "zoo." don't judge--we learned more from him (about the animals) than anywhere else we visited.

sophie and a very curious corn snake--she is one fearless four-year old!

gus, being a bit wiser at 11, is trying to keep the panic at bay

this was much more his speed

but, gus rallied and let rick put this 10+ foot albino burmese python around his neck...

...but sophie was a bit too short to get the full snake experience.

here's something you don't see every day: gus riding a tortoise. the tortoises can support about 250 pounds of extra weight and still walk around.

sophie rode a smaller one and it seemed oblivious to her, especially when tempted by cucumber sections

and i made a friend! i wanted to stuff this umbrella cockatoo in my purse and take him home he was so sweet.

gus and sophie and lion...a live one of which we did not see in the skunk ape zoo (but would not have been surprised to)

sophie holding a baby alligator at the miccosukee indian village, a place, i hate to say, we weren't too thrilled with. we went for the alligator wrestling but found it to be so much less respectful than that at everglades alligator farm that we left early. the grounds are beautiful, though.

is this child abuse? gus and sophie on a bouncy bridge at everglades wonder gardens...

...bouncing over giant live alligators!

they had some great photo ops there (doesn't this look real?)

and some really, really big gators

the bubble room on captiva island had some of the best red velvet cake in the world--next time we visit it will be to eat dessert only

and it made gus crazy!

gus and sophie enjoying the magnificent silence and beauty of the corkscrew swamp sanctuary, where we saw tons of birds...

...and big trees...

...and alligators (of course)

gus and sophie at the end of naples pier...

...where we spotted a small pod of wild dolphins!

sophie showing off her beautiful shells

off to amelia island, which was lovely in and of itself but was especially lovely because we got to stay at the ritz-carlton for rich's meeting! sophie took full advantage of the pool to practice becoming medusirena, jr...

...while gus realized his true calling at the ritz.

i'm kidding--he's no dictator...he's totally friendly gus!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

pictures from floooooridaaaaah (part one)

lifeguard? we don't need no stinkin' lifeguard--we've got medusirena the mermaid!

oh my god, florida. we are all in love--i think we've found our next place to move or at least where we're going to be traveling to (again) in the future. the whole trip was precipitated by rich having two meetings, eight days apart, in florida. i didn't want to fly down there with the kids, then fly back, then fly down there again a week later, so instead sophie, gus and i drove over 4400 miles (over 18 days), explored florida, and bookended the trip by meeting up with rich...at his meetings. it was glorious, it was wondrous, it was flooooooooridaaaaaaaaah!

i'm putting this up in two sections: part one is fort lauderdale to the florida keys; part two will be naples to amelia island.

things one and two swimming in the atlantic ocean with daddy (mommy's shelling on the beach, as i still hear the jaws theme song when i see open water)

after the ocean, sophie and gus discovered the pool. beautiful--and i love that there was a wedding going on in the background!

sophie became a lorikeet master at butterfly world...

...and got some excellent close-up views thanks to daddy

hawkeye butterfly!

and another hawkeye butterfly!

this was amazing--it is an atlas moth, attacus atlas, and it is the largest moth (i think) in the world

it was definitely the largest moth i've ever seen--they are like 14 inches across. we watched this one hatch from its chrysallis.

big gator, little girl

big lobster, little girl

big shark, big boy, little girl

big dolphin...you get the idea...this is in front of one of our new favorite places, dolphin research center on grassy key...

...where we met these guys: delta and his mother, aleta (and 17 of their dolphin friends)...

...and even got to shake hands! this is gus with delta (he's pink because he's very young)

sophie hit the jackpot--she got to shake hands with both aleta...

...and delta! lucky girl.

and i got to meet aleta--she was lovely. seriously, i want to adopt her. and delta. and my birthday's in like 6 weeks if y'all are looking for gift ideas... :)

ever wondered what a sea turtle hospital looks like? it looks like this--the individual tanks are for turtles that are to be treated and released back into the wild; the big pool is for the long-term residents

and this is what it looks like to do surgery on a sea turtle. it was a fascinating visit.

this little guy was super-curious about sophie, and she about him--he had gotten tangled in some discarded monofilament (always throw it away properly!) and almost died. the turtle hospital has treated and released over 1000 turtles since 1988, which is amazing. *ahem*...and they have annual adoptions, too...

sophie doing a great elton john impression at the hog's breath saloon on key west

at the sunset festival on key west we watched this guy play the bagpipes and ride a unicycle, which caused gus to exclaim, "i wanna be just like that guy, but with a college education!"

gus and sophie at the end of the world...or at least the continental US

and here they are at the official end of the continental US, from which you can see the navy base that is actually further south (but not publicly accessible)

sign: "you will be seeing unusual accomplishment."
gus: "nuh uh, not if my eyes are closed," and thus sophie closes her eyes to the coral castle (not for long)

gus and sophie, on their thrones of coral

they definitely had unusual plants that fit the site perfectly

and a little piña!

we finally got into the everglades proper at the everglades alligator farm, where we took in an airboat ride...

...and saw many gators up close and personal! (rich wasn't exactly thrilled when he saw this picture.)

it was awesome--we're definitely doing that again! our airboat driver, JD, was very much into doing 360s/720s with the airboat, which in retrospect was probably not exactly safe but it was seriously fun (kinda like blowing up stuff in an old microwave)

(think shaggy from scooby-doo voice) guh-guh-guh-gators!

after the airboat it was time for the alligator show, and i'm fairly sure every woman in the audience ovulated at this display. as an aside, i think rich totally has that rare combination of confidence plus just-enough dumbass to do something like this.

hop on gator, open mouth...

...then close mouth...

...then hold mouth closed with chin...

...then open mouth again and hold it open with chin...seems like risking getting your face torn off is a wee bit extreme for a five-dollar tip.

but gus did get to hold a baby alligator

as did sophie! totally worth it.