Tuesday, August 19, 2014

FL Vacation: Part 2, Ocala

I'm going to blame my bleary, photo editing eyes on the many typos and misspellings in yesterday's post. Digital photography was a wonderful invention but it requires much more work to cull through and edit!

So, we left Orlando and headed up to Ocala and Papa and Meme's house.
After a bit of reading, the girls and Papa set off to water the new trees in their development.

Continuing with our Old Florida theme, we took a day trip to a place I could only dream of when I was little. Len was lucky enough to live closer and got to go when he was a child. I grew up in northern FL so making the trek to Weeki Watchee Springs never happened.

Can I just say that it was everything AND MORE that I had imagined as a kid?! I mean, MERMAIDS. ALIVE AND SWIMMING RIGHT IN FRONT OF YOUR NOSE!! Long before Ariel captivated kids, the mermaids of Weeki Watchee were swimming in the 74 degree waters of the natural spring. What's awesome about this place is that they are actually swimming in the springs so turtles and fish randomly swim by as they are performing.

These lovely peacocks greeted us when we arrived.

This one was missing a foot but was able to walk on the peg well enough.
We got to the dock just in time to catch a boat ride up the springs. The water was so clear you could see all the way to the sandy bottom (and all the aquatic plants hiding the turtles and fish).

Back on land, we spotted the mama peacock and her three babies. I've never seen an albino peacock before!
Then it was time for the mermaids! Guess who was excited?
They built the theatre under the springs so, if you are standing outside, you can watch the show from above on the dock. We did this later when we went swimming in the public area. First though, we watched it up close and personal in the theatre.
Notice the fish swimming above her?

 One of the shows was the Little Mermaid, thus the sailor she had to rescue...

Afterwards, free pictures with a real, live mermaid.
This part is called Buccaneer Bay. The roped off area in the foreground is protected land. The rope extends around to the right and that is where the mermaids do their show, diving off the roof of the theatre making for a great show as you swim in the water!
The chilly water and excitement of the day resulting in two tired kids for the drive home.
I had to get a shot of this. We were all a bit over each other so retreated to our various devices. It was quite comical! Together and yet alone.
We took a girl's day out with Meme and their cousin Lainey. First up after lunch was pedicures! Amazingly, they had a pink chair (Kate's fav color)....
 and a yellow chair (Lucy's fav color)!

Pretty toes! Bonus points if you can identify who belongs to the toes.
Next on the agenda was bungee jumping.
 Kate tried as hard as she could but still couldn't get enough gumption to flip all the way over.
Lainey had no problems!
We ended our trip with a little shopping.

I loved these aviators on her--totally fits her personality. She ultimately chose the reading glasses in the first picture above, and a necklace.

Kate chose faux reading glasses and a secret diary with a lock.
Back home, Meme and Papa set them to work cleaning all the money Kate (and to a much lesser degree, Lucy) had found on the trip thus far. Have I mentioned Kate's ability to find money? It is really absurd. I think she came home with about $2 worth of coins.
We spent one afternoon with their cousins swimming and playing.

Kate's new trick was to dive onto the float and through the hole into the water.

Lucy was happy to learn some video games with Drake during a brief rainshower.
 Sherry and Dale served up a low country boil for supper!

Sated on crabs, shrimp and sausage, she was back in the water.

And then back out for watermelon.
Lucy and Drake got into a pretty fierce water gun fight.

The rainshowers brought a rainbow.
Some friends arrived so the fun continued in the yard.

Too soon, our time in Ocala was over and we were headed on to our next stop.

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