Friday, January 23, 2009

Adventures in Florida

We're on our way out of Florida now. Tonight we are in Panama City Beach. We have put up with really chilly temperatures the past 4 days or so. I'm glad I had my North Face fleece with me! It's been between 23 and 28 degree the past 3 mornings!!!
When we left Fort Myers, we stopped at the Edison Ford Winter Estates - where Thomas Edison and Henry Ford spent the winter months & entertained friends like Harvey Firestone. It's a wonderful area - the houses and gardens are beautiful. We took the coast highway up to Homosassa & crossed a couple of spectacular bridges. We stayed with our friends Ruth and Dick in the small rural town of Beverly Hills.
We visited a the Homosassa Wildlife Park in Homosassa yesterday. It's small, but a neat little park. Lot's of native Florida critters - flamingos, cranes, owls, alligators, pelicans and the star of the show - the manatees! They are really, really large sea critters that don't do much of anything besides float around in the rivers and eat. Their closest relative is the elephant. They look like giant potatos that someone threw in the water. The ones at the park weighed between 2,000 and 3,000 pounds ...
Today we drove the Sunshine Coast Highway from Crystal River to Panama City Beach. It was a pretty drive - and the sun was out so it warmed up all day. Along the way we stopped and took a mile long hike in the Lower Suwannee River Wildlife Refuge. Yes, it's the famous Suwanee River from the song. We walked to the river and then took The drive took us over a half dozen big bridges - beautiful scenery. We stopped in Port St. Joe to watch the sunset - which was beautiful again!!!
I love the names down here - Apalachicola, Chassahowitzka Bay, Caloosahatchee River, Choctawhatchee Bay. We didn't hear many southern accents when we were in Ft. Myers - of course it seems like no one there is from Florida. As we got further north, the accents became more noticeable and now I really, really have to listen to get everything! My first clue was when I was on the phone with the car dealer to arrange an oil change for the Denali - the guy told me they were "raht nixt to MAC Donalds"..

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