Sunday, 21 June 2009

Some Layouts using the photo

This shows the holding pattern we had over Nassau before landing in Miami, also the top left shows some tiny white buts (you probably can't see them) but they were icebergs just east of Newfoundland. Followed by our first sunset, then approaching storms.

Sunday, 7 June 2009

It's all over bar the shouting

Yes we head home today, we have most of the day to fill with some sightseeing round Miami, weather permitting.

If there is anything interesting to add I will post once we get home otherwise I need to sum up.

We had so enjoyed our time here, the weather has been good and any rain and storms have been when they haven't affected our plans.

We have seen some wonderful wildlife and been to such different habitats, every water trip we took was to a different type of area.

Thanks to all of you who have read this, I hope you enjoyed sharing our trip with us.

More water, in more ways than one

We started the day by driving 30 odd miles into the Everglades and down to the southern most point at Flamingo. We both agreed it was the most boring drive of the week. Much of the road runs between trees so there is no view but even when there is a view it is just sawgrass and swamp and not much bird life.

After lunch we drove down to Key Largo and found the John Pennenkamp State Park which was a lovely place. There is a lot to do in and on the water with trips out to dive, snorkel and also canoes and kayaks to rent. Then there is the glass bottomed boat, that is what we did. 2 1/2 hours on the boat with about 30 minutes for the journey out and back that gave us 1 1/2 over the coral reef with a scientist who told us all about the fish we could see and the different corals. Sadly photos don't work well through the bottom of the boat but we saw some interesting birds on the way out and back.

When we got back to the hotel we freshened up and went for dinner, while we were there we watched a thunder storm approaching and just got back to our room before it started to rain, and how it rained! We were luckier than Miami though, they had flash floods for the second day running with water up to the top of car wheel arches. This was the second day running that it had happened, hope it doesn't happen a third as we are off to the airport at about the time it starts.

Saturday, 6 June 2009

Gators and native Americans

e left the villa around 9.30 and started our journey back south towards Miami to stay in Florida City for a couple of nights to round off our holiday. Having had the huge storm first thing the sky looked as if we could get more but we were lucky and didn't have any on the journey, it started just as we got back to our room after supper.

The route took us right along the Tamiami Trail which crosses the southern tip of Florida, mainly a long straight road through the edge of the Everglades. We saw lots of bird life and also a whole group of alligators in the canal by the visitor centre.

The Miccosukee Indians have villages all along the trail and several shops and restaurants also lots of airboat rides, many of which were closed as this is now low season.

Food for thought

Friday, 5 June 2009

Water day again

First sorry about the delay but I normally update this first thing in the morning, I couldn't do it today as we had a HUGE thunderstorm. We actually had breakfast by the pool and watched it al round us - it was undercover!

So back to yesterday. We went to Sarasota, we were planning to go further north but the weather forecast was not good so we went for an indoor visit to the aquarium. By the time we got there the weather looked fine and there was a boat going out on the bay with a Marine Biologist onboard to tell the story. We booked and it was really good. We visited one of the islands, all of which were built by the Army Corps of engineers as they cleared channels. We passed several more that were bird 'rookeries' and then they put a dredge down to scrape the bottom, when it was brought back up the Biologist sorted it and then told us all about the stuff they had found. It was really interesting.

After that we visited the aquarium and the dolphin and manatee area. Some photos -

Thursday, 4 June 2009

River trip

We had an early start to get to Punta Gorda and board one of the Kingfisher fleet of boats for a 3 1/2 hour trip up river and into the interior of Florida. Near the coast the river is lined with huge properties, many of them 3 floors with the bottom floor being mainly as a precaution to storm surge and not used as a living area. They almost all had boat docks with big speedboats in them - how the other half live!

Further inland the buildings disappeared and gave way to mangrove and needle grass swamp and that was when we started to see a bit more wildlife. We saw 2 rookeries, islands where birds congregated to nest. Interestingly there were several different types of birds at each of them. Wood stork, Great White Egret, Snowy egret, Cormorant and several types of heron.

The furthest point of our trip was at Liverpool, or what is left of it. It was founded in 1856 when a Liverpudlian found phosphates in the area and built a dock to ship them from,a small town grew up round the dock and he named it Liverpool. There is not much left now - just a few pilings along the river bank.

We also spotted a couple of alligators lurking in the water but they were quite a distance from the boat and disappeared quickly.

When we got back to the dock this man was cleaning his catch and the Egrets were waiting to be fed. It was fascinating to watch as the birds seemed to know which bits they shouldn't touch but to wait for him to give them the bits he was discarding. He had a pile of fillets to his right which were totally ignored by the birds.

Finally we couldn't not include this picture of a flame tree in full bloom. We were quite surprised to see them in Florida but there are lots around and this is probably the best we have seen.

Wednesday, 3 June 2009

Off to the beach

The day promised scattered thunderstorms for the afternoon so we decided to head for the beach for the morning, it would certainly be too hot to be there for too long anyway. Boca Grande is the one we chose to visit, it is on one of the barrier islands and the beaches are almost white and not very busy. We took the causeway over the Intracoastal Waterway and drove south for about 5 miles to one of the public access points. It was a beautiful spot.

The thunderstorms were about in the afternoon and were quite close to us but all we got were a few rumbles and a sprinkling of rain.

Monday, 1 June 2009

An outbreak of lethargy

We haven't done much at all today, just a bit of shopping at the local Mall this morning followed by a lazy afternoon by the pool and a lovely dinner at one of our favourite restaurants - the Red Lobster.

There will be some photos when I have downloaded them, right now I am so stuffed all I want to do is relax and let my dinner go down.

A couple of pics from where we are staying, first the pool area from outside the mozzie cage then the canal at the back of the villa where we see all sorts of wildlife and even saw an armadillo on the other bank yesterday.

Sunday, 31 May 2009

Everglades City

We made an early start as it was a 3 hour drive to the 'City' - not quite what we expected, in fact we almost thought the whole place was closed when we got there.

There were several options for airboat rides but we went for one where all the 'Captains' were from local families and all the area that they covered was owned by the operating company, they also only ran over shallow water, just what the airboats were designed for. We think we made the right decision as it was informative and thrilling at the same time.

While we were waiting for the boat to come back from the previous run we wandered down to the dock and, in the water was this We watched it for a while and it didn't move, Chris really thought it was a plastic one just for the likes of us, until it moved! It was about 5ft in length and in about a foot of water.

Then came the ride with Captain Brian who proceeded to throw us round for a while then stopped to show us another 'gator, then off we went again
funny how an hour can seem like 5 minutes when you are having fun!

Time to take it easy

Slowing down nicely now we decided that a short trip to a couple of shops for our personal bits and pieces was the best idea so we headed into Port Charlotte and got the stuff we wanted then we headed on to Punta Gorda to book our boat trip for later in the week. The one we wanted is going on Wednesday and we have booked our places.

It was really hot by this time (about 12 noon) so we stopped or lunch at the end of the pier, with a lovely view across the harbour but it isn't very photogenic as it is basically a huge, wide expanse of water. We did get these in the marina though.

The temperature by then was 90F so we decided to get back to the villa and take advantage of the pool for the rest of the day.

It will get more interesting tomorrow as we are off to the western part of the Everglades.

Saturday, 30 May 2009

Day 2 - more travelling

We made the journey from Miami up to Rotonda with a short stop to take a look at Lake Okeechobee on the way. We were a bit disappointed as the parking lot (note the American terms here and there!) was just by a canal and the lake was possibly half a mile away. The whole lake is surrounded by a very high levee so you can't see it at all from the road. We did get to spot a small heron though.

We made our way to Fort Myers where we found a wonderful bookshop - Books a Million, the range of magazines was incredible and we both managed to get what we wanted.

Then it was time to pick up the keys and find our home for the week. Once again the Satnav was really useful in finding the rental office but not so good at getting us to the villa by the best route. Still we got here and settled in quickly, had a quick swim before supper then relaxed and watched the sun go down.

Friday, 29 May 2009

The longest day...

Here we are in Miami having spent about 2 hours longer in the plane than we needed to. First we sat on the stand for just under an hour while the baggage handlers sorted out something in the hold. Then, after a pretty good flight, we were told we wouldn't be going directly into Miami as they were having a 'heavy shower', that turned into an hours holding over the Nassau area. You can just about make out our route on the flight info on the screen here

Mind you we had some spectacular views of the ocean bed in that area, like highways of sand and such a wonderful turquoise blue.

When we eventually landed the 'heavy shower' turned out to have been a big hail storm with strong winds, as it was we had a big drop on the way in, about 200 feet according to the information on the screen, just can't imagine that a landing would have been very nice in that!

We found our hotel with no problems at all, thank goodness for satnav (GPS).

We rounded of our day with a visit to the Cuban restaurant just by the hotel. Why do we always have trouble when ordering drinks. Chris wanted a glass of wine with his meal and got WATER!

Thursday, 21 May 2009

Rotonda revisited

We first went to Rotonda 4 years ago and found it a peaceful and restful place to call home for a while. The plan is to spend our week on mostly nature trips with the odd bit of shopping thrown in.

On the list of things to do are 2 trips to the Everglades, 1 or 2 boat trips and anything else that takes our fancy.

We will post daily on what we have been up to and add 1 or 2 photos for each day.

First day will be Thursday 28th May which is arrival day so don't expect too much then as we will have been travelling all day.

Feel free leave comments or even ask questions, just post them as an 'Anonymous' profile and put your name on the end of the comment so we know who you are.

See you soon......