Updated: Aug 15
Between March 9-April 6th we moved out of the Keys and headed back north. We stopped for one night at my Uncle Micheal and Aunt Denise's house in Boynton Beach. They live in a flying community where almost everyone has their own plane. There is a runway that goes down the middle of the neighborhood making it convenient to take off and land right from their front door. My uncle had the perfect place to park our RV alongside his hangar. We hadn't seen them in several years, so it was so nice to visit and catch up. We had dinner together and ended the night enjoying an outdoor concert at a nearby park. Myah had fun, too!
Boynton Beach Stay.
On March 10th, we arrived at Sherwood Forest RV Resort in Kissimmee for a 14-night stay. During our time here, we met Ryan in Tampa on St. Patrick's Day for the annual River O'Green Fest. We walked along the banks of the river, dyed a bright emerald green, for the event. We all wore green, even Myah got into the Irish spirit by wearing her festive bandana. It was a sight to see and a fun day with Ryan!
River O'Green Fest
We spent the rest of the time taking advantage of our Disney annual pass with a few more visits to Disney World. The EPCOT Flower and Garden Show was going on during this visit. We saw so many beautiful and amazing flower sculptures.
One day we met Aunt Carol and Uncle Jay at Disney Springs for dinner at The Boathouse, where we celebrated Aunt Carol's and my birthdays. We were so happy to enjoy another meal and spend more time together.
More Disney and Disney Springs.
We were also able to meet up with friends, Russ and Brenda, who had recently moved to Sarasota from our home town. They were visiting the Orlando area, so we decided to meet at Disney's Boardwalk for a relaxing meal and cocktails. After, we indulged in some ice-cream as we chatted and strolled along the Boardwalk. We love that we can meet up with old friends during our travel adventures.
Dinner on the Boardwalk with friends.
On March 24th, we headed to Crystal Isles RV Resort in Crystal River, FL for a 7-night stay. Manatees are the big draw in this area where the large mammals come to the Crystal River in the winter to stay warm. We had made a plan with Ryan and his friend, Rob and mom, Monica, who live in the Tampa area, to meet us here during our stay. We had a nice lunch with everyone before visiting Homosassa Springs Wildlife Park where we had hoped to catch a glimpse of a manatee. We were lucky to see a few manatees and enjoyed a leisurely walk around the park.
Crystal River and Homosassa Springs Wildlife Park
After visiting the park, we parted ways with Rob and Monica. Ryan, Pat, and I had signed up for a manatee snorkel experience. During January and February, the mammals are plentiful in the warm river, fed by natural springs, maintaining the temperature at a constant 72 degrees. We were there at the end of the peak season, but were hopeful to see a few of these gentle giants up close and personal in their natural environment.
Fortunately, our crew was able to spot a lone, female manatee grazing on sea grass near our boat. We entered the water and followed the "elephant of the sea" as she munched on the tasty grass. We swam beside her for about 30 minutes until she had her full and suddenly fell asleep, head first, into a soft pile of grass. It was a wonderful experience and an honor to swim alongside this gray beauty.
Swimming with a manatee.
It was time to say a sad and final goodbye to Ryan. Hopefully, we will be able to see him again later in the year if he's able to meet us out west for Christmas. We sure enjoyed our time with him while wintering in Florida.
On March 31st, we spent one night at the Tallahassee Auto Museum in Tallahassee, FL at a Harvest Host before continuing on to the Panhandle of Florida. Pat enjoyed walking through the museum and admiring the extensive collection of antique cars and collectibles. The museum grounds were also nice to enjoy an evening walk.
Tallahassee Auto Museum
We arrived at the Emerald Beach RV Park, on the Santa Rosa Sound, in Navarre, FL on April 1st for a 7-night stay. It was great to be by the water again.
We really enjoyed our time here. The weather was perfect and the beaches are amazing with white sand and cool green waters. We also met one of Pat's former co-worker, Anthony, and his family, who were vacationing in the area, for dinner in Miramar Beach. Pat and Anthony had such a good time catching up and reminiscing about old times.
We visited Pensacola Beach where Myah romped around on the warm sand on a dog-friendly beach.
Before we knew it, our six months in Florida was over, and it was time to move on. During our stay, we channeled our inner child as we roamed around "the most magical place on Earth". We checked off a few more National Parks, including Everglades and Dry Tortugas. We biked along lakes, visited breweries and fished and snorkeled in the Keys and Panhandle. We met up with friends and family. We relished the sunny, warm days, beautiful beaches, and clear water and look forward to another winter in Florida in the future. Next stop "The Big Easy".