My second full day in Florida started once again with a buffet breakfast, followed by another long-ish drive accompanied by Orlando's one and only radio station, which once again played the same six songs over and over for the duration of the drive.
I'm pretty sure my cold and I took a nap to pass the time. The view on highways in central Florida leaves a lot to be desired in terms of entertainment value...
Anyway, we eventually arrived at our destination - Blue Spring State Park. And why were we there? To see manatees! The whole way there (in between napping, of course), I'd been bitching to Sara and Julia that "If we've driven all this way and I don't see a bloody manatee........". So of course, we arrived at the gate, and they had a board up telling you what the water temperature was and what the day's manatee count was.
What was the manatee count that particular day? NINETY ONE. Yup. Ninety one manatees. Obviously, I was pretty excited about the fact that I was pretty much definitely going to see a manatee. Aaaaaand the word 'manatee' no longer looks like a word. Well done, Kirsti...
Anyway, we parked the car and followed the signs to the hiking trail. Apparently America has a very different interpretation of hiking to the rest of the world, because said trail was a boardwalk, was perfectly flat, and took about ten minutes to complete. Still, the view was nice:
Our first of the day! Although I think we were all more excited by this slightly ridiculous sign:
|No harassment allowed|
After staring at the manatee for a while, we wandered back in the direction we'd come and further down along the spring, where there turned out to be a ton more manatees, including babies. Sadly, the reflection on the water made it hard to take photos of them. For the most part, they were big and grey and blobby - about what you'd expect of manatees, really!
But rest assured, there were many more manatees, along with an enormous heron and a rather large alligator. And some Spanish moss, which I decided I quite liked:
Eventually, we reached the end of the path, which came with this delightful mosaic sculpture:
Isn't it pretty?? It's hard to tell from the picture, but all the mosaic pieces had a metallic finish. SUPER CLASSY.
Back in Orlando that evening, we decided to dedicate our time to finding the tackiest magnet humanly possible. You see, Sara and her brother-in-law have a competition where they buy tacky magnets from around the world for Sara's younger sister. And Sara was determined to win, by finding the ugliest magnet that International Drive had to offer. We failed to find any that night, but I DID discover this spectacular piece of ridiculousness:
Yep. Socks with Zac Efron's face on them. BECAUSE OF REASONS??
The following day, we headed down to Tampa to go to the zoo, which turned out to have all the usual stuff:
|Cranky looking bald eagles|
|Teeny tiny frogs|
|A bored looking chimpanzee|
|The most ridiculously orange flamingos ever|
|A very playful baby orangutan|
|And home was apparently far closer than I thought...|
|Shamelessly stolen from Sara's Facebook page|
The back shell was painted teal, there were strings of glue all over the place, the bear was just...random, the Florida label is slightly askew, and the whole thing was covered in a layer of dust. LOVELY.
That night, we headed across town to Rocco's Tacos to meet up with Alice and Emmy. And sadly, I don't remember a whole lot about dinner, because cold and flu tablets + margaritas = Kirsti fighting the urge to fall asleep on the table. Well done, Past Me. Well done.
Next up, the excited flailing reaches extreme levels when Lor arrives and we all head to Wizarding World of Harry Potter!