25/9/16 – Rollin’ on the river

Up earlier this time in order to get the complimentary breakfast in and get to the Everglades fairly early. I was actually ready before anyone this time, so I did some reading before we went for breakfast. First place we’ve been to that actually has a waffle make, woo! Safe to say that went down a treat. We then headed off to the Everglades. I watched an episode of Psych on the way. We stopped off at a little information centre to figure out a bit more about what we wanted to do, since the Everglades is a seriously huge place.

When we actually got into the park, it was chucking it down. Feels like home when the weather’s that typical. We bought our ticket for the Stingray boat tour, which leaves from the bay, goes along the canal and out into the lakes. The shop backed right onto the dock. I saw the fin of a tarpin cut through the water a few times. It’s kinda freaky; they’re like mini sharks. Armed with my brolley, I wandered further down the dock to have a nosey in the bay to see if I could see anymore, looked sideways and had the shock of my life when I instead saw the head of a three-metre crocodile rising up out of the water and against the side of the dock. I mean whoa. Talk about scary. I kept my distance, because I’ve seen how high those things can push themselves out of the water. I was certainly ready to be back inside the shop if it looked even remotely like it was going to try and climb out.

The croc disappeared when the boat came back in to dock from its last trip, but we saw another couple swimming further down the bay before we got on the boat ourselves. Apparently, this is the only place where crocodiles and alligators share the same water. I’d seen plenty of alligators when I did a swamp tour the first time I went to Louisiana, so getting to see wild crocodiles was a new and interesting one. They’re also scarier looking than alligators. However, our biggest problem on the boat wasn’t the crocodiles, the alligators or the horrible giant banana spiders we saw underneath the bridge we drove through; it was the goddamn mosquitoes. The boat ride was certainly interesting, but I felt like I spent the whole time slapping bugs away.

We had our ride cut short by about twenty minutes when a big thunderstorm hit whilst we were out in the middle of the lake, so we had to turn around and come back. I was super hungry when we came back in to dock, but with the weather being so temperamental, we wanted to keep seeing stuff rather than sitting down for a proper lunch. Instead, lunch was a pink lemonade and a bag of Funyuns from the little shop. Whilst we were having a munch, we went over to the other side of the bay and got to watch some baby manatees surfacing and sticking their noises up out of the water, ahhh. I really love manatees and they’re actually not endangered anymore. Well done, world.

We had a wander around the park and tried to do one of the trails you can walk along to look for wildlife. However, it was super overgrown and you had to try and cut your own path – not only unappealing when you’re in shorts sandals and a low-cut top; there was also the possibility that there could be snakes and all sorts lurking in the grass (in America, a lot of their snakes are poisonous). And we’d barely got anywhere before we were getting fully eaten alive by the bugs. We hastily changed our mind on that idea and returned to the car to drive round to the other side of the park to find Shark Valley.

Unfortunately, that idea also fell through when the satnav went on another mad one. We drove a really roundabout way, didn’t find anything for ages, then realised that we’d somehow bypassed the entire park and were suddenly a lot closer back to our motel. Well, bloody hell, satnav. We didn’t really feel like trying again, so we hit the next Walmart we found to get more drinks and things. I found some cute little jester gloves that are blatantly Harley Quinn inspired and will go great with my costume.

Mom had had a taste for KFC for ages now. We knew there was one nearby and had planned to bring some into the room last night before we’d spotted the Applebees, so that was moved to our plan for tonight instead. However, like the Applebees, it was also disappointing. We asked for a regular twelve-piece bucket and when we got back to the motel, we realised the dopey server had given us boneless chicken strips. Still nice, but nowhere near as good as the proper Kentucky coated stuff and when that’s what you’re expecting, chicken strips are definitely disappointing. Homestead have really failed us in the food department.

At least the TV selection was more satisfying. Mom turned it on to find 22 Jump Street, so that had us occupied for the night. After that, we found more Impractical Jokers and I had a mad reading spree to finish off my Clive Cussler book. With more Seagrams on the go, of course. As nights in go, not half bad.

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Now this is what you call a holy crap moment.

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8/3/15 – Tone vs. Food

Tasha actually beat me as first up this morning. That was a new one! Had a cookie to munch on and Sar and Kel both got up not long after. Dad then popped round to tell us that they’d overprepared this time and cooked all of the breakfast already. Last night there’d been a bit of hoo-ha over us being late over there for food, so we all hurried over sharpish to make sure it wouldn’t happen a second time (minus the boys, who were still asleep again). Breakfast was yummy once more. The oldies all decided they were going for another walk. Since it was raining we decided we’d had our share of walking for the holiday and went back to our own cabin.

The four of us spent the next few hours having a good natter and gossip about everyone and everything. Ben and Mark got up amidst the chatting and joined us. We had a run over to the other cabin to collect some more fresh pizzas to cook at ours and all got super invested in the Take Me Out re-run. Last of the series, sob. Ben took a real interest in my Superfreaks story, which always really flatters me. He also got what was probably the most in-depth rundown of it that I’ve given anyone so far. After a while we decided to check out the game room. I beat Kel at darts, but she beat me at foosball and our crazy long game of ping pong. We also played with some giant dominoes, but as we’re not entirely sure of the rules we don’t know who won. We’ll call it a draw.

I came back up to the cabin just as Sar had gotten out of the hot tub. Boo. She went in the shower so I got some Fall Out Boy going on the sound system, got my notebook and a can of cider and went to do some writing in the hot tub. It should have been the most ideal way to write (apart from sitting out in the sun and catching a tan at the same time) but it didn’t last very long when Dad, Auntie Ann and Uncle Colin came creeping round to chuck cold water over me. Normally I’m all for cheeky antics, but this time I wasn’t impressed because A) I’d tried so hard to keep my hair dry so that I wouldn’t have to wash it before going out for food, and B) my notebook got soaked and I don’t have any of it backed up. Thankfully best cousin Sar had been stood out in her towel chatting to me after her shower and she ran inside with my notebook before they chucked more water. Saviour of the day!

I didn’t stay in the hot tub much longer after that. Came in and got dried off and sat watching most of Mulan on telly with the others. Things are always better with a bit of Disney. Found out amidst the compulsory Disney talk that Mark loves Princess and the Frog. Oh yeahhh. Most underrated Disney film ever! Since my hair had gotten wet I then had to go in the shower and wash it. My notebook seemed to have survived the drenching so I guess I couldn’t really complain. Once I was dried and ready we all got into cars and headed back to the George and Dragon Pub Inn from the first night. They had the Stowford Press on draft and an amazing looking menu so I was certainly happy to go back.

I had a mixed grill this time and asked for my usual no veg of any kind (in this case peas, mushrooms and tomato. Bleugh). Even still it was friggin’ huge! I had a steak, a big piece of gammon, a pork chop, two sausages, two pieces of black pudding, homemade chips and onion rings. I pawned off the black pudding after having a little taste and being unsure if I actually liked it or not. Still can’t decide. But I of course devoured everything else and everyone cheered. Apparently I have hollow legs – I always seem to amaze people with my capacity for food, The worst part was that I wasn’t even full! I still had room for an Eton Mess sundae afterwards. Did feel a little bloated once we got back to the cabins, so I just chilled in the hot tub with Sar and Ben for an hour or so. They asked me a million and one questions about writing, which again was incredibly flattering. It was really hot in there again and I ended up having a major granny attack (i.e. a sweat) so we all got out. Got changed, grabbed a cider and we all settled down to watch 22 Jump Street for the night.

I didn’t stay up to watch the whole thing. Kel had already gone to bed so I knew that meant we’d be packing everything up first thing in the morning. Sob, just when I was starting to get attached to this place. Goodbye for another year, hot tub holiday!

Goodbye, super nice cabin!

Goodbye, super nice cabin!