Florida! Part 1: Homosassa

Hey kiddos!  It’s that time again, time to recount the events of the Campbell family vacation.

We began our journey on Monday April 12th.  Rob, myself and his parents, Sherri and Joe, flew from Portland to Orlando where we got a rental car and drove two hours to Homosassa Florida where Chris (Rob’s brother) and his wife, Kristin, and their 5 month old son, Asher, were waiting at our rental house for us.  Homosassa is a very small town in southern Florida with not much happening.  Our house was located on the bank of a canal.  It was a manufactured home with a screened in tiki hut in the backyard (we ate lunch and dinner in it each day) a broken down pontoon boat on the lawn and a driveway ramp that went into the canal.  This driveway had gator footprints on it.  Before we got there Chris and Kristin saw 3 gators there!  I was so excited to see some gators!  Unfortunately I saw no gators in our backyard.  We figured they were there for Chris & Kristin to see cause no one had been there for a while, and since they knew we were there they didn’t come around.

The weather was perfect.  In the 80’s, blue sky with a few clouds, cool breeze in the evening.  Just perfect.  One of my favorite things about the south is the spanish moss on all the trees.  I remember learning on a field trip to Oak Alley Plantation in Louisiana that the moss only grows on the north side of trees.  It seemed like it was all over the place though.  Maybe that was just something someone made up.

So, for our  first day in Florida we went and picked up Rob’s grandma, Grandma LaVerne, and we went to a place called Weeki Wachee Springs.  This was old Florida.  And by old, I mean kitschy vintage old.  Basically, in the late 40’s a guy named Newt, a retired Navy SEAL trainer, bought Weeki Wachee Springs to build his own business.  He invented a breathing hose to use underwater so humans wouldn’t have to go above water.  He built a theatre 6 feet into the water so people could see into the springs.  He hired pretty girls and trained them on how to use his fancy breathing tube, taught them dance routines and BAM!  Mermaids.  To this day mermaids perform shows in the Weeki Wachee Springs.

This turtle kept getting in the way.

Here’s a little video sample:

And here’s the finale:

That’s right, these mermaids are proud to be American!  Wait, what?  American mermaids?  Where do mermaids come from?  Who knows, and that’s a question for another day.  While we don’t have video of the mermaid proudly parading the American flag, I do have a photo:

Aaaand after the show we walked around the park, took some photos and took a boat ride on the springs.

Weeki Wachee Springs

Who’s the cutest wittlest baby waby?

Thug Life.  Nuf sed.

I made a taco dinner when we got back to the house.  Rob, myself and his parents ate dinner in the “Taco Tiki Hut” as we called it.

The next day we took grandma to Homosassa Springs Wildlife Park.  There they have a manatee reserve, which spawned a lot of manatee puns.  I had never seen a manatee before so I was pretty stoked.  When we walked in the park ranger person was giving a talk on manatees and introduced us to Amanda, the manatee.  Or as I like to call her, Amandatee.  Ha!  Anyhoo.  These things are huuuuge.  Prolly why they refer to them as sea cows.  It’s hard to get a good photo of them.

And that’s what I’d look like if I were a manatee.  In case you were wondering.

I wanted to take this beautiful owl home and cuddle with it.

And this was weird.

And if this American Bald Eagle with clipped wings doesn’t say “Freedom” then I don’t know what does.

And there were gators.  Lot’s of ’em.

We went to lunch after the wildlife park at, get ready, Leon Wilkeson’s, bassist for Lynyrd Skynyrd, restaurant Neon Leon’s Zydeco Steakhouse.  A New Orleans themed cajun restaurant in the middle of nowhere Florida owned by a member of Lynyrd Skynyrd.  It was my lucky day.  As we walked in a sign on the door read something to the effect of “we need to run them out out of Congress and take it back”, with an image of Uncle Sam.  I should’ve taken a picture of it.

The food was excellent.  Neon Leon wasn’t there, such a shame, but I finally got my grubby little hands on some sweet tea!

I’d be lying if I said I didn’t want to take this home.  Just for funsies.

Now, shy away vegetarians or those who don’t care for meat wrapped in meat wrapped in meat.

Rob ordered the shrimp wrapped in crab wrapped in bacon.  It was pretty good.

Then we said goodbye to grandma and took some family photos.

Sherri and Grandma LaVerne

A very happy Great Grandma.

And a very proud Uncle Rob.

The next morning we left for Orlando via St. Petersburg.  Krisitn had a friend she wanted to visit there before heading to Orlando.  They dropped Rob and I off at the beach for a couple hours while they did some shopping.

We had some lunch at some seafood joint and hung out on the beach and in the ocean, and Rob found a hermit crab.  It was damn near perfect.  When the kids picked us up we went to another beach for seashell hunting.  We found a few shells, a washed up sea urchin and a big jellyfish.

We visited with Kristin’s friend a little bit and made our way to Orlando.  It was a two hour drive and by the time we got to our hotel it was late in the evening and we were pretty tuckered out.  We hit the first of many souvenir stores.  But this one stuck with us through the trip, and here’s why:

The Wizard.

Next stop Disney World.

And this concludes Part 1 in an unknown amount of parts in a series.  Maybe 2.  Possibly 3.

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