Them Airboats

** Because we are traveling less frequently these days, I thought I could share some interesting stuff about Florida. What better way to promote my home base right? I don’t need to travel out of state or out of the country to be able to come up with inspiration for my blog because I already got tons of fun-tastic Florida faves lined up for you!

You can check out my first post about Florida here.

In the meantime, another fun-tastic activity to do while in Florida not Disney related is going on an airboat ride.

What exactly is an airboat?

Wikipedia defines it as: “An airboat, also known as a fanboat, is a flat-bottomed vessel propelled in a forward direction by an aircraft-type propeller and powered by either an aircraft or automotive engine. Airboats are a very popular means of transportation in the Florida Everglades, parts of the Indian River Lagoon, the Kissimmee and St. Johns Rivers, as well as Louisiana Bayous, where they are used for fishing, bowfishing, hunting, and ecotourism, and in other marshy and/or shallow areas where a standard inboard or outboard engine with a submerged propeller would be impractical.”airboatinflorida

Another interesting fact is that the airboat was first built not in Florida or the rest of the southern marshy states but in Nova Scotia, Canada by Alexander Graham Bell, the inventor of the telephone. Hello?

So whenever you see a flat bottom boat with a huge fan in its behind, you now know it is an airboat.

I first rode one in the Everglades National Park in South Florida. There are many airboat operators offering different tours which may or may not include other wildlife shows and exhibits. It is also important to know that majority of the park is considered a wilderness area and is off limits to private and commercial airboats so only a small section of the park and some adjacent non-park lands are used for the tours.

The next few times of my Florida airboating experience were done at Camp Holly, a mere stone’s throw away from where we live. Every time we have guests, we try to make sure to bring them here for an authentic old school style Florida activity.

IMG_1793

I personally think Camp Holly’s airboats were much more fun and exciting and faster than the one we had at the Everglades. Maybe there are speed restrictions since it is a National Park, I don’t know. All I remember on the Camp Holly rides is the thrill I get every time the boat twists and turns as it navigates its way on the water. It is much cheaper and closer to home too so that by itself is a no brainer.

IMG_1796

The boats go along the St. John’s River, the longest river in Florida and one of the few in the United States that flows up North. Various wildlife and plant life thrives here abundantly so naturally, sight seeing is the main attraction apart from the experience of riding the airboat itself.

IMG_1779

Of course, the alligator is the “king of the river” and all the other animals are but secondary to this fierce beast. I once saw a smaller alligator being eaten by another alligator. It happened so fast that at first I saw this swimming alligator and the next thing I heard was a loud snap and water splashing and then a piece of carcass was seen floating where the alligator was. Cannibalism live in action. Ugh.

IMG_1809

 

IMG_1500
Can you find the gator?

Certain times of the year around spring is the best time to see these animals for mating season. We went in March and I swear we saw more than ten gators, I lost count! We even saw a gator’s nest.

Before going on a ride though, be aware that it can get really loud from the noise of the machine. Most operators provide you with ear muffs, ear plugs or noise reducing headsets. The driver stops at intervals though to be able to talk to you or answer any questions you might have. Also, being in Florida, the weather can change any time so be prepared for rain. If the weather gets really bad like a thunderstorm, they will turn back. Another important thing to remember also is that you will be riding along a marshland with weeds, grass and sometimes trees so bring a mosquito repellent. And sunscreen for that hot Florida sun. Duh.

IMG_1788

Lastly, bring a sense of fun and style to your airboat experience. Like my gorgeous friend from New York.

IMG_1479

Have you ever been on one? Wasn’t it an adrenaline pumping experience too?

Home is where your heart is

After a grueling 11 hour night drive, we are finally back home in Florida! What normally would have been a ten hour drive took us an extra hour because we had to take a detour to avoid I-95 due to some road closures as a result of the flooding in South Carolina brought about by Hurricane Joaquin. After days of non stop rain, the dams in South Carolina just gave way causing billions of damage to nearby areas, including the closure of certain parts of I-95.

So it was Plan B for us as we looked for alternate routes to bring us home. Despite our sleepless state, we decided to start driving in the afternoon. Having worked the previous night shift, we were only able to muster 3 hours of daytime sleep the most, which is not really ideal to be driving long hours but we were just so excited to go home that nothing could stop us. Once on the road, there was lesser traffic which made for good driving. Lots of water, coffee, loud music and conversations were needed to keep the driver awake, of course.

But, once we arrived, boy, the feeling of being at your own place was simply pure joy. What a relief to walk into a clean house (our friend did an impressive job maintaining it. Thank God for good friends!!!) albeit the lack of food in the refrigerator. Who needs food at 4 am anyway? We went straight to bed after changing the sheets and woke up feeling so refreshed, though I think I needed more sleep than that, but I had a doctor’s appointment after lunch so I had to be ready.

After a few minutes of reorienting myself to where things where, yes, I needed a bit of reminding where my “home clothes” drawer was, where the coffee was stashed, which light switch works for what light and a few others, my hubby and I quickly settled in to our usual routines. It felt so good sitting in my patio the next day!

So good that I am not even thinking about going back yet, not even touched my bags yet, not even looked at all the laundry that needed to be done…

For now, I am home. 

IMG_3188

Life’s a Beach!

IMG_3329
Cocoa Beach, Florida

Had a busy weekend. A very good friend came to visit so I had to play tour guide and show her around.

This photo was taken just a few hours ago while we were having lunch at one of the restaurants overlooking the beach and the ocean. It was a pretty busy beach day alright! We had to literally fight for parking space. Yes, it was that bad.

Landscape shot and cropping done. Now, on to the next Photo 101 assignment.

My Trinkets from Around the World

It was a bright sunny day when I took my “little people” out from the curio cabinet.

I took a few sample shots of our backyard to comply with Photo 101’s weekend assignment on Composition. Background, foreground, horizontal, vertical and the rule of thirds were the terms we learned this past week. I struggled to get out of my comfort zone and started taking fresh photos once more experimenting on my camera settings, tweaking this and that.

By this time, my “little people” were getting antsy inside the recyclable grocery bag that I stuffed them into lest I accidentally drop them. No, that is such a horrifying thought! They are all my preciousss…..

So, out they came, one by one and started to do my own little photo shoot.

But, wait a minute, I see a pretty purple flower swaying in the afternoon breeze.

IMG_3171

Couple of experimental shots later, I finally got what I wanted then proceeded to the main task at hand.

Here are my little people.

I had a great time taking photos of these cute lil things. They were such great and easy subjects!

This new project, which I hope to keep up as a series, is inspired by Indah. She is one awesome photographer, specializing in underwater shots. You should check out her world!

Lastly, I will leave you with warm thoughts from Florida.