The Great Escape

We’re in the jungles of Florida! We keep ending up at tiki bars, eating slightly disgusting fried things. I had a piece of gator tail. On day 1, we stayed in Minneola, a tiny town right next to a lake and something called the Citrus Tower, in rolling limestone hills. Moomin and I made up a whole fake and very pompous history of the Citrus Tower rather than actually go to it. Here we are at the Minneola Grill having pancakes:

Minneola Grill

For most of our time in Minneola, we drove around looking for Action Games and Comics, which turned out to be a really nice store that runs game events and sponsors local cons. Moomin picked through the dollar bin, and got an Aquaman book and a Jimmy Olsen book (as you can probably tell from yesterday’s post.)

We got to Homosassa & settled into our rental house. It’s right on a canal that connects to the Homosassa River. When we got here an electrician was fixing the water heater, and he super nicely put the kayaks from the dock into the water for us! The river really was right there, out of the canal and under the bridge that is Fishbowl Drive, right at the point where the river heads into the Homosassa Springs Wildlife Park and is off-limits to anyone but manatees!


There were manatees all over the place. We mostly stayed still, floated around, and watched for them. Other boats were all around us including big pontoon boats with snorkelers. Seeing the manatees is maybe not all that exciting because it’s just like seeing a distant brown spot in the water and then their head comes out, they whuffle through their nostrils a bit, maybe you see their tail as they dive again. Still! Sometimes they were right next to us or under our kayak!

manatee right under our kayak

The trees and pilings around us were also full of anhingas, ibises, great blue herons, and snowy egrets. It was totally birdwatching paradise.

In the wildlife park I was pretty excited by the spectacular water bird area. It’s a tiny zoo but very well run. The bird ponds and tiny islands were covered in park birds but even more wild birds. There were wood storks, ibises, sandhill cranes, herons, egrets, pelicans, everything you could think of, stalking around and gulping fish. They’d hop up on to the railings and sit next to us, quite close!

Wood stork

The park manatees were mostly asleep with their heads in a bin of romaine lettuce. You can see that it might be a little underwhelming. I really really loved this park and would go back. It was very accessible, except for the underwater viewing room which did have handrails on the stairs, at least. They have a lot of loaner wheelchairs. I think they may have even had powerchair loaners but I’m not sure of that. Still, it was easy to get all over the park in my manual chair. Moomin pushed me up the arched bridges when I was tired.

park manatees

I have been resting a lot, while Moomin reads or plays with legos. We spent some time cutting out pictures of fish and manatees to paste into his notebook and also played a long time with tops made out of legos.

the arena of dooom

To make a top from Legos, use an axle and a big gear. You’re done! Spin it in an arena made out of books, or on the palm of your hand!

After kayaking today and then a nap for me, we went about 2 miles down the road to the Yulee Sugar Mill ruins. We discussed its likely history before hand and I predicted the historical markers would talk up how great the owner of it was and celebrate the days of yore without mentioning the word “slavery”. This tickled Moomin’s sarcastic fancy so I think he was looking forward oddly to this very boring local attraction. When we got there, the gears on the ruins looked AMAZINGLY like things Moomin had just been making out of Legos all week so we tried to figure out exactly what was going on with the gears and rollers and steam engine and boiler. The historical marker signs didn’t disappoint, or, well, I guess they did disappoint but since we expected it, we were pleased. Loudly and obnoxiously we narrated the missing bits of the signs and how glorious Senator Yulee exploited black human beings like they were objects from land stolen from the Native Americans by soldiers and made disgusting amounts of money from the sweat of people he kept in slavery and degradation. Moomin added that he expected that Certain States never do seem to mention about slavery. I have properly infected him with a respect for History with graphic novel biographies and things like the story of Oney Judge which shows what a jerk George Washington was. I’m glad it’s sunk in early.

We had lunch at McRae’s (the 2nd tiki bar of our trip) where we watched countless fishing and tour boats, saw a couple of manatees, a million pelicans and herons and things even in a busy port, and skimmed the gift shops to find the perfectly tackiest present for QueenofSpain who is in Orlando on vacation with her kids right now trying to beat us in tacky souvenirs. I couldn’t bring myself to really buy it, but there was a sculpture made of shells that was SCALLOPS PLAYING POKER. I might have to go back and buy it and ship it to her. It was magnificent right down to the tiny playing cards and cans of beer and the grotesque shell-faces of the scallops complete with googly eyes. I may dream of it.

At 4pm, the mosquitoes come out, so we come in off the lawn where I set up to rest and nap on a blanket in the sun.

I think Moomin likes having a toilet where you can flush the toilet paper here in our palace of a rental house (unlike on a boat) and the long boring afternoons of me napping or reading or uploading photos while he fools about on the floor with legos and comic books, just like at home. I think some kids would be bored with this vacation but it seems just about our speed.

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