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The Florida Project

Friday, Feb 23

- Flew from Calgary to Houston - Chris had to check her carry-on

- Arrived at our hotel, there was a Corgi convention going on.

- Not much time to do anything but sleep. Protein bar for a late night dinner.

Saturday, Feb 24

- Caught our flight to Fort Lauderdale

- Picked up the rental car. Not quite the seamless experience yet. Still had to talk to someone. Getting closer though.

- Went for a smoothie and acai bowl at Sarava Acai Cafe.

- Checked into our Airbnb and met Jacomo the cat (very friendly). Found the bikes in the shed and went for a bike ride towards the beach.

- Rode our bikes down the pathway and stopped at the Khoffner Brewery - they had a lot of my favorite styles of beer: Hefeweizen, Dunkels, German wheat, Belgian dubbels, etc.

- Upon leaving we had a momentary setback when we realized we were given the wrong combination for our bike lock. But a quick phone call sorted that out and we were on our way home.

- A quick change and we went to Enkanto Peruvian Cuisine for dinner. It was really good. Tasty pisco sours.

- Then it was on to Sunrise, Florida to watch the Florida Panthers vs the Pittsburgh Penguins. Met the family there. Sadly the Penguins did not prevail, but they did come storming back in the 3rd period to make it an exciting 6-5 finish. Beers were $14 USD !

- Took a family picture in the mouth of the panther after the game.

Sunday, Feb 25

- Went for breakfast at The Alchemist. Refreshing iced coffee, a breakfast pizza, and a breakfast croissant.

- drove to Wellington to watch the Winter Equestrian Festival. Couldn't find any parking, so dropped Chris off at the main gate, and then drove a ways back to the highway to park. Bit of a hike, but a guy in a golf cart helped me out for part of it.

- Met in the international ring and watched Ben Maher and Rodrigo Passoa each win a class. Also watched some hunters.

- Drank some freshly squeezed Florida orange juice and a delicious quesadilla.

- Watched a bit more, and then headed out, stopping at the Tackeria to do some horse related shopping.

- Stopped at Walmart and bought some wine and Coke.

- On to dinner at Ka-Pow in West Palm Beach. Pretty cool Japanese manga inspired ambiance.

- Went for ice cream at Sloan's.

- Checked into our Airbnb and met Mouser the cat. Sadly, Mouser was not an indoor cat, but he was very friendly.

Monday, Feb 26

- Went for breakfast at the Palm Beach Golf Course (nice view of the ocean).

- Drove up the coast through Palm Beach, observing the mult-million dollar houses along the way (we were surprised they didn't seem to be right on the beach at all).

- Went to Whole Foods and somehow spent $100 USD on basically kombucha and a few snacks. And a green algae apple cider drink.

- Went to Juneau beach, where the turtles nest at certain times of the year, and ate our lunch.

- Walked over to the Turtle Sanctuary and viewed all of the turtles that were undergoing rehab. Most of their injuries were caused by being sucked into an intake at the local power plant. The same power plant that is the major donor of the Turtle Sanctuary.

- There were some pretty big turtles there (Loggerheads, and 2 other kinds).

- Stopped at Blowing Rock and walked down to the beach. Saw a black snake along the way. At the beach there were limestone rock formations.

- Drove to Orlando. Found our house and had it all to ourselves, as the rest of the crew were still at Disney. Went for a swim in the pool.

- Went to Burger Craft for dinner and then over to Winterland / Summerland mini-golf. We decided to try the Christmas themed Summerland.

Chris started off strong, with a hole-in-1 on the first hole. I caught up about half way through. When it was all said and done we ended in a tie, just like it did 14 years ago.

- The rest of the crew was back at the house when we showed up.

Tuesday, Feb 27

- The next day we had an early start at Animal Kingdom. We needed to get there bright and early to obtain our Disney passes - and to try and be one of the first people on the Avatar Flight Of Passage Ride, so we wouldn't have to wait 3 hours.

- The Avatar area was pretty cool, with a lot to look at, waterfalls, etc. It ended up taking only about 30 minutes to get through the line and on to the ride. The ride itself was pretty amazing, basically a moving 3-D experience like other rides, but probably the best one we've been on.

- Other rides we did that day:

Avatar Navi River (interesting, but slow).

Expedition Everest (ended up being our favorite roller coaster ride).

The River Rapids (got a bit wet, did this one with Levi, Mom, Melanie, Ethan)

The Safari (whole family, saw elephants, giraffes, hippo)

Finding Nemo - the musical (whole family)

Flight of Passage again (with Kyle and Mom), and Expedition Everest a few more times (with Mom once)

- Had lunch at the Sa'luti near Avatar (bowls) and tried the Night Blossom with rum drink.

- Went for a jungle walk with the family (komodo dragon, tigers, birds, and black bucks).

- Also saw apes (looked more like monkeys), and flamingos.

- Went back to the Avatar area at night for one last look.

- Picked up pizza at Flipper's on the way home. Chris went in the hot tub.

Wednesday, Feb 28

- Went to Hollywood Studios. First we had to make way for the Storm Troopers marching down the street.

- First ride that day was Tower of Terror. Had a creepy elevator operator. Great ride! A series of unexpected, random drops.

- Went to the Frozen 'Sing-along' and the Muppets 3-D movie.

- Chris and I went back to do the Tower of Terror again, and the Aerosmith Rockin' Roller Coaster (not that great). Went to Star Tours (pretty good).

- Met the whole family at the Indiana Jones Stunt Show.

- Did Star Tours again, and then went to the Toy Story shooting game. And then did the Tower of Terror (still great) and the Rockin' Roller Coaster again (still not that great).

- We ended the day at the Phantasmic light show. Had a margarita and dessert for dinner. And then Tower of Terror yet again! (With Gaz this time).

- Went in the hot tub

Thursday, March 1

- Last day of theme parks! Island of Adventure. Lined up with a small crowd in front of The Hulk roller coaster. But we walked briskly straight to Skull island to try the new King Kong ride. Really no line at all. Great ride - might have been our third favorite after Avatar and Tower of Terror.

- Walked over to Harry Potter and did that next. Pretty cool.

- Next was Spiderman and the Hulk, rides that we did last time.

- Did Jurassic Park, Ripsaw Falls, and Harry Potter (again) with the family and then went for lunch.

- After lunch we did the Harry Potter kid's roller coaster with Levi and Ethan and then headed over to the Dr. Seuss area.

- Finished off the day with Dr. Doom's Drop (of Doom?) and the Hulk coaster.

- Had a swim before dinner and then met the family at the Celebration Tavern.

- Went to Kilwin's ice cream for dessert and then it was back to the house.

Friday, March 2

- Woke up very early, as we were driving to Homosassa Springs to try and snorkle with the manatees.

- Met Captain Wynn of Blue Heaven Adventure tours who took us out on to the Homosassa River.

The weather had been unusually the warm the last few weeks, so there were very few manatees in the river. But we did find one pretty quickly.

With our wetsuits on we got into the river (a little cold, but not bad) and started swimming towards the manatee. We swam around the 2000lb manatee for a while. He swam pretty close to us, and even underneath us, never seeminngly bothered by our presence.

- We climbed back into the boat and headed a little further into the springs. It wasn't too long before we spotted another manatee, so it was back into the water. I swam around with the second manatee for quite a while, and was even able to touch it (which is allowed).

- Then we went on a little boat tour of Homosassa springs, drove around Monkey Island, and then back to the dock, where Melanie was waiting for us.

We had lunch at the restaurant by the dock. Mom went back with Melanie and we drove on to St. Petersburg.

- We *tried* to go to the Big Cat Rescue but there was a major booking error. *Someone* had accidentally booked us into a Big Cat Rescue Tour in Missouri instead.

- Checked into our Airbnb and met Pepsi and Nemo the dogs. Had a nap after our early morning, swimming, and driving wore us out.

- Went to Casita Taqueria for dinner. Delicious tacos, chips and salsa. Then we headed over to the 3 Daughter's Brewing company, which was really busy. We managed to find a table that had a boardgame built into it (Sequence). Chris won.

Saturday, March 3

- Got up early (again!) and drove over the Skyway bridge. Tried to park somewhere along the fishing pier to view it, but they wanted $21 !

- Drove back over the bridge and went for breakfast at Cafe Soleil. Had a lot of trouble finding this place, which turned out to be hidden beside the Publix.

- Drove through the Passe-A-Grille historic area but we didn't get to see much due to a lot of construction in the area.

I suggested going to the beach instead, to which Chris replied: "What are we gonna do, like, sit on it?" - which amused me for even days afterwards.

- Went to the Chihuily Glasswork museum. It was a lot smaller than the one in Seattle.

- Walked around downtown a little bit and then went to the farmer's market, where we picked up some arepas for lunch.

- And then we made our way to Dundedin where the Toronto Blue Jays do their spring training. They were playing the Minnesota Twins. It was a pretty good game with a lot of runs. The Blue Jays ended up winning 13-8.

It was pretty entertaining sitting in such a small stadium watching these major league players hit foul balls into the parking lot, potentially doing damage to the cars parked nearby.

- Tried to find parking to go to the Beer festival afterwards, but it was impossible so we just back to our place and got ready to go out.

- That evening we tried to go to the Canopy Bar, but it was pretty crowded so we didn't stay long. So we just walked down and around the Dali Museum and went to the Red Mesa Cantina for dinner. It was pretty busy as well, but we were able to sit down right away, as long as we didn't mind sitting on the sidewalk. The food was pretty good though!

- For dessert we went to the mini doughnut factory and bought some peanut butter/chocolate, snickers, and lemon/coconut mini doughnuts.

Sunday, March 4

- Went to JJ's Market and had some breakfast sandwiches.

- Found a wildlife park nearby where we took in a short walk to an observation tower and looked at a few birds.