What a trip! Being with Kayla and her friends, teachers and parents was fun fun! And so was seeing and swimming with the manatee! The first ones we saw (above) were basically in rehab captivity. Most of the first day was spent driving to Crystal River, FL, after our stop at Homosassa Springs, all we had left to do was try on wet suits, eat, and of course swim in the hotel pool & hot tub. yes, they were outdoor and no, they were not heated. crazy kiddos!
By 7:30 am we were suited up and ready to board our boats. It turned out to be a beautiful 72+ degree day in sunny Florida. The water was still shockingly cold, but we were thankful for the sunshine!
My underwater cam didn't prove waterproof, but I did salvage some shots & screenshots from a video before I submerged it!
We saw several manatee and most of us got to touch/pet them. ((Manatee Manners say we couldn't pet them unless they approached us- if they were resting or doing their own thing, we couldn't bombard them or crowd in on them for a selfish rub. If/when they did approach us -which they did because apparently they're quite curious and like the right attention-- then we could pet them with one hand.))
I had one swim up from behind me and bump me- I thought it was a kid or parent so I tried to get out of the way. I realized it was a manatee just in time to rub his side. So crazy. Clearly they're used to the many snorkel-heads that come see them every winter because they didn't seem to mind us in their space. (They also had lots of roped-off sanctuary space that we couldn't enter, so those who did mind could steer clear of us tourists.)
After the manatee adventure we went to Rainbow River where we got to swim in much clearer waters -Kayla's favorite- and mine! I grabbed a cheap underwater camera so I could capture a bit of the experience. We snorkel-floated up the river for a good hour, spying fish and divers and other underwater goodness.
We were plenty worn out after all the water play, but we still had pizza at the gulf and gift shopping and pool-swimming and ice cream-having and hair braiding and hide-n-seek in our adjoining rooms... and finally when we had the girls settle down around 11:30, they were out!
I didn't mean to write this much, but it was such a great trip. So thankful I got to go with my girl! ♥