Dave's Manatee/Disney World

Dave's Manatee/Disney World

December 19-21, 2008

Friday 12/19

I fly into Orlando
On the new JetBlue flight direct from Austin 3:55pm to 7:23pm, $479

Orlando airport all done up
As usual all sorts of crap was going on at work even as I was trying to get out the door- never ending. Heather also had to go to the emergency vet clinic for one of her cats, so I actually found it relaxing to sit in a Denny's for a few hours reading a two week old Sunday paper I wanted to catch up on.

Saturday 20th- swim with manatees

I've been wanting to do this for years, and remember when the "save the manatee" license plates came out and Jimmy Buffett was working to increase awareness back in the mid-80s.
They evolved at some point away from the elephant and reach up to 3000 pounds, I am not sure there is a gentler animal for humans to interact with.
Fantastic experience!

Ultimate Tour $99 each, on Crystal River
At first I was thinking, what the heck are we going to do for six hours? But time went by quickly.

Up bright and early to do some work stuff, then ended up running late to the 8am launch and had to drive in the fog as well. Made it in only 10 minutes late, not bad.

My new companions for this adventure- Stephanie, Nick, and Lynne, a terrific family from Tampa I would enjoy the day with
Also our guide was Jeff, a retired Coast Guard officer that loves the Keys

The first spot we went to, Three Sisters
Now that I think about it- forgot to ask how the name came about...There was a roped off manatee area out front (above) that would usually have 4-5 boats of tourists, then you swim through a little channel and pop into a beautiful, protected area for swimmers and manatees only (below).

Was it my deodorant?
Lynne was here in January of this year and said manatees were everywhere, and they would roll over and want you to rub their bellies. When it is cold the springs in this area keep the water temp a steady 72 degrees, so they gather around the warm spots (like African animals to watering holes in the dry season). Today turned out to be a fairly warm day, so the manatees were scattered about and you had to work to find them, and most would swim off.

Of course like most things life is a trade-off. The water certainly felt cold to us, and the news was saying how winter weather was making things miserable elsewhere in the country, including some people stuck for days that flew out the days after me. whew!

Now the little manatee in this video knew a good guy when he saw it and was swimming over to me for some interaction. Yes, patience my friend. However, the "mana-ratzi" as Stephanie aptly called them would horn in on my action and scare this guy away (note glaring white hand that enters the screen from the right...)

Like the great explorers before us, Nick and I continue to brave the cold in quest of yet more sea cow

As Lynne would call it- a "typical Florida place" that I usually love, complete with tiki bar. However the vibe she was giving off was correct- found the food to be just so-so (but at least we didn't feel sick like she did last time! Always look on the bright side of life [whistle] [whistle]...