Babies On Safari!

January 24, 2013 at 5:08 pm | Posted in For the Family | Leave a comment
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It was a beautiful January day here in Florida.  My friend and I decided to take our kids to Lion Country Safari and take advantage of the “cool” 68* weather we were having.  Turns out, we weren’t the only ones with babies by our sides.  Forget spring, it seems winter is prime baby time!  I’m excited to share this one, one of my cutest stories!

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Babies were present in the very first section of the drive through.  Lion Country Safari is home to a population of Brown Pelicans, all injured wild birds deemed unreleasable due to injuries.  They have made themselves quite a home here and are even bringing in the next generation of pelicans.  I’ve never seen a pelican this young before, and while many baby birds have a face only a mother could love, these kids were quite adorable all covered in fuzzy down feathers.

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Further in to the drive, we saw lots of babies along the way, grazing or resting with their parents.  We saw Greater Kudu and Impala little ones, resting Water Buck, and adorable tiny Blackbuck’s that looked like they were actually smaller than my dog.  The Blackbuck’s were actually quite well hidden, laying down in high grass, and we didn’t see them until the herd of bullying Nilgai began chasing them away.  While the mother in us got mad at them for picking on creatures smaller than they were, it was nice of them to help us see what was hiding in the grass.

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One of my favorites on the safari is always the Rhino’s.  This baby is probably almost 2 years old now, but I still love seeing it’s sweet little face!  Always close to mom, it’s been fun watching him grow during my trips throughout time.

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The babies were getting increasingly more adorable as we drove along.  Soon we were upon a herd of Zebra’s.  There were two precious little fuzzy babies that we saw within the herd.  The one above was just too much!  He had been nursing from his mother, became quite tired, let out a huge yawn, and decided to crash to the ground to rest.  He then realized he was still hungry and slowly grazed in style.  We thought that it wasn’t going to get much cuter than this.  Until we came across the Giraffes…

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The highlight of adorableness on this trip was, without a doubt, this little girl.  Born not even 48 hours before our visit, in front of people driving through the safari on Monday, was a brand new baby girl Giraffe, basking in the sun.  We plotted to bring her home, clearly this itty bitty could fit in the car!  She’s another one I’m looking forward to watch grow.

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Stay tuned for future posts on these little ones growing up, and hopefully more babies as well!  For my full scoop on Lion Country Safari, see my previous post here…


Pic of the Week – 1/26/13

January 24, 2013 at 3:54 pm | Posted in Pic of the Week | Leave a comment
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Or should I say “Pick of the week”.  Yesterday’s trip to Lion Country Safari in West Palm Beach had a lot of sights to see!  The Watusi were hanging out near the road on the drive through safari.  We were admiring their horns, which can reach an amazing 8 feet in length from bottom to tip.  Turns out they have some other amazing abilities… How does a Watusi pick its nose without fingers?  Well see above… My charming pic(k) of the week.

Pic of the Week – 1/19/13

January 24, 2013 at 3:44 pm | Posted in Pic of the Week | Leave a comment
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If there’s one thing you’ll come to find I absolutely love, it’s babies!  Even newly hatched baby birds, ugly as they may be, to me are are so ugly that they’re actually cute!  While this isn’t a newly hatched baby, I still love this shot.  This picture is from a recent trip to Green Cay Wetlands in Boynton Beach.  It’s not often that I see a Black Crowned Night Heron, in fact I only saw my first one last year, and can count how many I’ve seen collectively on my fingers.  I saw this funny looking guy sitting in the tree and was trying my best to figure out exactly what it was.  You can imagine my bird-nerd excitement when I saw momma bird sitting in the background, a Black Crowned Night Heron.  As soon as I saw her, I could immediately see the family resemblance (ok, species resemblance, but you get what I mean.)  They’re one of my favorite birds, and this weeks pic of the week.

Return to the Crystal River

January 16, 2013 at 4:01 pm | Posted in Endangered Encounters, For the Family, The Wild Side | 2 Comments
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It had been just over a year since the last time I found myself in Homosassa Springs and I couldn’t wait to get back!  So in December, what started with just my two cousins and I wanting to see manatees from their world, turned into a much larger family trip of 12 of us. I had such a wonderful experience the year before, I wanted to make sure my family had the same great time.  And who do you trust with a dozen of your craziest relatives?  None other than Captain Glenn and River Ventures!  Once again, from the minute I had booked months in advance, the folks at River Ventures were awesome… making reservations was easy as could be, changing the reservations when more people wanted to come was just as easy, changing the reservations once again because we don’t do anything organized the first two times was not a problem either, and finally the day of was a breeze.  I don’t know if you’ve ever tried to coordinate 12 people ages 12 to, well, I won’t say the oldest age because I’ll be in trouble for announcing that on the internet… but they managed with ease.  I’ll tell you from being related to my group, that is no easy task!

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It was a chilly December morning, around 37*.  Steam was coming off the water from it being about 35* warmer and my family was shooting me looks of “Are you kidding me right now?!”  They had no idea what they were in for.  The chill in the air reminded me of how cold I got last time, though I wasn’t about to tell that to my sleepy mob.  Unlike last time, when, having visited just before official “manatee season”, the manatee sanctuary zones were up, a “human-free” area where manatees can hang away from people.

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Manatees and exhausted humans weren’t the only ones out early this morning.  There is a variety of wildlife in the area, including many kinds of birds, otter, even the occasional dolphin.  We were greeted at Three Sisters Springs by the sounds of singing birds, a Great Blue Heron hunting in the mist, and an Osprey that had just come in for a landing.  Of course, we were also greeted by the sound of manatees surfacing for air.


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Shortly after anchoring, the red carpet was rolled out and we had a welcoming committee playing with the ladder.  Everyone carefully entered the water, doing our best not do disturb our playful little manatee friend.  The warmer water was almost welcome… after the shock of water touching everyone anyway.  I waited back as my family slipped into the water one by one, ready to hand out floating noodles to those who decided last minute that they needed one.  Finally, after a little bit of madness and confusion what comes standard in my families DNA, we were all in the water and off to meet some new friends.

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To say that manatees were everywhere isn’t an exaggeration, they really were.  There were points in time where I was getting bumped from different directions by passing manatees… apparently I’m not much of a road block for a 2,000lb animal, which thinking about it as I write this makes me worry less about eating healthy today.  We headed toward the entrance to Three Sisters Springs slowly but steadily, admiring the many manatees as we passed.  Some were resting, some were feeding, some were playing; it was impossible to keep track of them all.  I spent half my time observing the manatees and the other half observing my family, all of whom seemed to be thoroughly enjoying themselves.

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The Springs were quite busy this morning, there were several tour boats, kayakers, and people on their own boats.  Naturally the more people you have in a crowd the more likely someone is not to listen.  I can proudly say I am actually NOT speaking about anyone in my family!  There was a couple on their own boat who, despite Captain Glenn warning them where they were headed and why they shouldn’t go there, managed to startle sleeping manatees.  The ones they startled went into a panic and ran into others, who did the same, and you can imagine the chain of events – a manatee stampede.  The splashing picture above doesn’t do the actual event justice, it was pure madness for a few seconds, and afterward there were manatees covered in sand like the one pictured above from the ground being kicked up.  Lesson of the day – Always listen to Captain Glenn!

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After the manatee rodeo, we headed into Three Sisters Springs to see if anyone was hanging out inside.  The current was quite strong getting inside!  The kayakers that were heading in to check out the beauty of the springs didn’t seem to be having as much trouble as we were.  We had to use the rocks to help us along, almost like a lateral rock wall.  But it was worth the fight of the current, the springs are absolutely beautiful inside.

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Once inside, the waters turned into a clear blue tone.  It wasn’t quite as clear as last time I was there, but last time I visited was during a slower time of the year, so there were more people present and understandably the sand on the bottom was being kicked up more.  Inside the springs there were a few resting manatees hanging out being admired by swimmers and kayakers who could easily see down into the water.  Fish were taking shelter under the resting manatees and keeping warm where the spring releases its warm water.  Even on busy days when the water isn’t crystal clear, it’s still worth the trip into the springs, even if just to observe your surroundings and take in how gorgeous this natural wonder really is.  The manatees being present just adds to the awe.

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Soon enough, we had spent nearly 2 hours in the water and it was time to head back to the boat and into the freezing air.  As one last goodbye, after a good amount of our group had already retreated to the boat, my cousin and I were approached by a friendly youngster.  He swam up to us and was rubbing himself on our legs like he had an itch he couldn’t reach.  As with a few others that day, he began playing with my feet and was even trying to take hold of them with his flipper and also held onto my leg as if he wanted it for himself.  This kiddo was the perfect ending to a wonderful day.  The last few of us holding out, afraid to face the much colder air, finally made it past the manatees blocking the ladder and back onto the boat… and directly to the hot chocolate kept on board to help thaw out human ice cubes.  It was an event that all 12 of us agree was truly wonderful.  If you have a family of 12, you KNOW this is a miracle in itself!

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This really is something to be enjoyed by people of all ages.  An adventure you can take on your own, or with a boat full of friends and family.  For sure, something to add on to your bucket list!  Try to go during cooler months and be sure to book in advance!

As I’ve said before, I can’t possibly say enough nice things about the crew at River Ventures.  They will take excellent care of you and your family.  For more information, visit them here…

This time around, we stayed the night in town.  We stayed at the Holiday Inn Express that we found on River Ventures web site.  Great accommodations!  They were all of 2 minutes from River Ventures, which is a HUGE deal at 6AM.  They have a continental breakfast, out and served before you go to your swim.  They’re also good about late check out so you can return and shower before you check out.  The rooms are clean and the staff is friendly, I’ll be staying with them again for sure.  Check them out yourself here…

You can also read about my previous visit here…

Thank You!

January 12, 2013 at 3:49 am | Posted in For the Family | Leave a comment


Ahem! Excuse me, I have something I would like to say! Today I received a message from WordPress wishing me a happy anniversary with their site. I can’t believe I’ve been blogging for a year! And what a year it’s been! With nearly 1,000 hits, views every day for the past 3 months, and readers in over 40 countries, it appears I have been keeping at least some people busy and hopefully entertained and even inspired. So to all of you out there reading this right now, thank you for stopping by! I keep my stories coming for all of you… And because I really like to take pictures.

Shark Reef Aquarium, Mandalay Bay, Las Vegas

January 11, 2013 at 3:07 pm | Posted in For the Family | Leave a comment
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I know, Las Vegas probably isn’t what you would expect to find within my blog.  But here we were, in Vegas for my Mother’s wedding (talk about something I never thought I would say), and looking for ways to entertain my 2 year old.  Luckily I had done my homework (and some scouting 3 years before during my last visit) so I knew that on the South end of The Strip, located at Mandalay Bay, was the wondrous Shark Reef Aquarium!  A beautiful, AZA accredited, nearly 1.6 million gallon underwater wonderland which is home to 15 species of sharks and over 2,000 animals.



The Shark Reef Aquarium offers more than just aquatic life.  Upon entering you will find several species of reptiles, including the rare Golden Crocodile and giant Komodo Dragon.  Of course, if the scaled type isn’t for you, keep on walking, there is much more ahead!






Once you’ve passed by the reptile area, you’ll find yourself looking at a wall of beautiful tropical fish and sharks.  The fish feel close enough to touch, and if it weren’t for the glass separating you, they really would be.  The animals glide by the glass, they’re not shy at all, and often stop right in front of you.  The children absolutely loved how close they were, but you could see the inner child in all the adults were just as fascinated.



As you continue on, you’ll walk through a tunnel that will give you a full view all around you.  We thought one of the coolest sights was to see sharks gliding above us and get a good look at their sharky smiles.  It’s an area you can easily spend all day in, but you haven’t even gotten to the coolest stuff yet…












The next area is a lot of fun for the kids!  There is a tank full of the beautiful and venomous Lion Fish, a tank full of glowing Jellyfish, an Octopus with quite a personality, a wall full of gliding Rays, and everyone’s favorite, the touch tank! Here you have the chance to touch a Sting Ray, Horseshoe Crab, or even a small Nurse Shark.  There is always staff watching over to tell you the best way to greet the animals and answer any questions you might have.








After you pull your kids (or yourself) out of the touch tank, you’ll be on to the main event – the sunken shipwreck.  Here, you’ll stand inside the sunken ship where you can, at some points, have a full 360* view of the water surrounding you.  This area is home to over 30 sharks, as well as large fish, rays, and sea turtles.  The sharks aren’t shy at all, they will come right up to the glass, wowing anyone nearby.  It’s a place you could easily enjoy all day, and since the sharks are always on the move, you’d never get bored.



Plan accordingly, you’ll want to allow yourself enough time to enjoy it all!  For more information, visit here…

Pic of the Week – 1/12

January 10, 2013 at 3:45 pm | Posted in Pic of the Week | Leave a comment
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How cute is this face?  This past Monday, a few friends and I took our little ones to Zoo Miami for a fun day out.  We were there all day.  All. Day.  But being there for so many hours gave us the opportunity to see everything.  By the time we got to the Australia area of the zoo it was close to evening.  We were quite excited to see the lazy Koala awake!  Well, for all of 3 minutes or so, but he was awake!  This adorable little face is well worth the title of Pic of the Week.

Pic of the Week – 1/5

January 10, 2013 at 3:37 pm | Posted in Pic of the Week | 2 Comments
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While it’s not the clearest picture I’ve ever taken, it sure was an exciting sight to see!  Right into the New Year, my friend and I traveled down to Pembroke Pines to see the one and only nesting pair of Bald Eagles in South East Florida.  It’s in a residential area, across the street from a school, not really where you would expect to see a pair of Eagles.  But year after year, this pair returns to this nest to lay their eggs and raise their young.  Finding it was a bit tough, funny as it may sound.  You can park along the street and see the nest across the street.  It took a little scouting and referring to a web site set up for this pair to find them, but once we saw the nest we though “How did we not see this?” (For the record, South Fl. Eagle Watch has made it incredible easy to locate the nest, giving you very specific instructions on where to stand for the best view.)  Momma Eagle was sitting in the nest, Daddy Eagle was nowhere to be seen.  We watched her as she preened herself and arranged her nest while watching over her egg.  Since an egg has been laid, there will always be at least one Eagle present until the Eaglets are ready to fledge, so if you’re in the South Florida area now is the perfect time to go have a looksy!  Maybe you’ll come up with your own pic of the week.

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