Helen & Nigel's Around The World trip 2013/14 travel blog

A Manatee - (stock photograph)

The view we had of the Manatee

Traveling across Tampa Bay

Lettuce Lake Park

Gator at Lettuce Lake Park

On the boardwalk- Lettuce Lake Park

Tropicana Stadium - Tampa Bay

Tropicana Stadium - Tampa Bay

Tropicana Stadium - Tampa Bay

The scoreboard - Tropicana Stadium - Tampa Bay

Raymond the mascot - Tropicana Stadium - Tampa Bay

Kayaking - Crystal River

Kayaking - Crystal River

Helen making friends - Cycling - Inverness

A hot day! - Cycling - Inverness

When we left you it was Saturday 26th July, we had just experienced one of Florida's electrical storms and had been on an Airboat ride through the Everglades.

In the afternoon we headed to a city on the Gulf of Mexico called Naples.

Following a little research we located what must be one of the best cinemas we have ever been to. The automatic ticket machines talk to you, the seats were made of soft leather and were enormous. The seats were so comfortable if the film wasn't any good you would definitely fall asleep.

Although the film ("Lucy" staring Scarlet Johansson) was pretty average and the screen wasn't an IMAX, the picture quality was absolutely amazing.

On Sunday we went on a tour looking for Manatee.

We had a little trouble finding the boat and eventually found the marina after having to ask for directions.

It seems that anyone who can sail a boat can put the title "Captain " in front of their name. Our "Captain" was driving a small launch that took us around a small river system. Initially we were striking out with no sign of these shy creatures even though we were accompanied by 'Bella the Manatee finding Dog'. As we were reaching our furthest point from the marina we came across a mother and calf. Initially they just looked like large rocks under the water but as we waited we saw that both come to the surface for several breaths. We managed to stay with this pair for several minutes which was lucky as we didn't get another sighting.

Monday was spent traveling. We shared the driving and initially used the local roads. Later in the day we got onto the interstate (motorway) which took us over the bay and up into the city of Tampa.

On Tuesday, following a little research on the internet, we drove to a local wildlife centre at Lettuce lake park. We had one eye on the weather as we could hear a distant thunderstorm heading our way. We managed to take a short walk on some boardwalks surrounding the lake and saw a small Gator and some other wildlife before the rain came.

When the rain came in it was like stair rods so we decided to retreat to our hotel room and spent the afternoon on the Internet booking things for our future travels during the last 2 months of The Trip.

We found that the tour to Alcatraz island was fully booked when we're in San Francisco but after a little research we located 150 tickets that are available on the day if we queue first thing in the morning - so it looks like we have a very early start (4am) on Helen's birthday.

On Wednesday we went to our first baseball game (rounders to all the Brits reading this).

It's was the local team - the Tampa Bay Rays against the Milwaukee Brewers and the game lasted just over 3 hours. The local team got spanked 5-0 and from the news after the game it looks as if the Ray's pitcher (bowler) would maybe be looking for a new job.

(Update! he has since been transferred to another team!)

While we were there we thought we should have the full experience and had a 'foot long' which is a very large hotdog with all the trimmings.

Thursday was another traveling day and we continued driving up the west coast to a town called Crystal River. This is the furthest north we will be driving in Florida.

On Friday we went kayaking on the coastal waters of the bay around Crystal River.

This area is famous for the number of Manatee that gather in the bay. Unfortunately we were out of season and had no sightings this time, but as a consolation there was a great deal of bird life.

For a change we decided to get single kayaks to maintain marital harmony. Helen might have had a little more paddling to do than usual and as a result was aching by the time we finished but at least she was able to steer and control the kayak and decide her own route - which made a nice change.

Today we headed to a small town called Inverness and hired a couple of bikes. This town has a popular cycle route and so we took a 3 hour trip along the prepared cycle path that follows an old railway line and went through forest and around some lakeland. We had planned to cycle 4 hours but the weather was so hot and humid we threw in the towel after 3 hours.

Tomorrow will be Sunday 3rd August and we have another traveling day planned.

We will be driving from the west coast across to the east coast and ending at Cape Canaveral. This is where we will spend the night ready for our visit to the Kennedy Space Centre on Monday.

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