Sunday, January 23, 2011 (An Airboat Ride, Crystal River, FL)

As predicted, it was pretty darn chilly out this morning but the sun was shining and there wasn’t a cloud in the sky! As I pulled on my long-johns, I said to Steve...”there is something inherently wrong about wearing long-johns when you’re in Florida!”

After gathering our gloves, toques and coats, we left at about 10:15 for the 20 (or so) minute drive to River Safaris in Homosassa Springs. The business is housed in a very unique looking building...very funky. After getting the truck parked in the large lot behind the building, we headed in to register and pay for our tour. We had been hoping for another couple to want to take the longer 2 hour, 4-person minimum tour but there had been no takers so we took the 1 ½ hour trip out through the canals and islands...but not quite all the way out to the Gulf. There are lots of island along the coastline.

We got all bundled up in our extra layers and also decided to put on our rain pants...we figured they would make a good windbreak. We were ready and waiting down by the boat just before 11:00 when Captain Tommy arrived. He gave us ear protection to wear...the engine is pretty loud...and told us where the life jackets were stored “in the unlikely event we need them”. He gave us a bit of a description of some of the things we would be seeing and also said that there were strict speed limits he had to adhere to as we navigate through the initial canals. Then we were off!

One of the first things we saw was a small island with a lighthouse on it and a bunch of spider monkeys...
Then herons nesting...
There are some beautiful homes along the waterway...

Once we were through the populated areas of the canal...well...away we went! Too much fun! He sped along whizzing back and forth navigating through the canals. I felt like I was on a ride in an amusement park...Steve thinks he was trying to scare the S*?T out of us! At one point he hit bottom...that was a little scary. The air boats don’t steer like a regular boat.....they skid in the turns. As you can see in the pictures it felt like we were heading for shore every time he turned and at times we were skimming over the mud....holy crap I hope he knows what he’s doing!! He later explained to us that the tide seemed unusually low today.

He stopped a couple of times along the way to give a bit of a description of the area and answer our questions.

Then we saw some this picture they are scaring up the first I thought they were fighting...

Unfortunately before we knew it, we were heading back in...that had been a quick hour and a half! We had had a great time...well worth the $35 each that it cost!!
This is a picture of River Safaris and Gulf Charters

After checking out the gift shop and taking a few more pictures, we were off. The area we are in is Historic Homosassa so we drove a little further down the road to check it out. Not much really we turned around and went back to an area we had driven through on the way to the tour this morning. We stopped at the Old Sugar Mill ruins and took pictures...

The sugar mill was built in 1849 by David Levy Yulee.  During the Civil War he supplied the Confederates with sugar, syrup and molasses.  Federal raiders burned the Yulee home May 29, 1864, but the mill and plantation escaped destruction.

We made a few stops on the way home and by the time we were back, it was late afternoon...that had been a fast day! We decided to sit outside and enjoy happy hour in the sunshine. A few minutes later, our neighbours returned home and came over to introduce themselves and we invited them to join us. Fred went in to mix drinks while Bettyann set up chairs. We had a nice visit with them...they are fellow Canadians from Port Perry, Ontario and winter down here in their motorhome. Both are “techies” and teach computer classes here at the park. He retired about 7 years ago after 30 odd years working for IBM Canada and she worked in some sort of network support.

Before we knew it the sun had gone down behind the trees and it was getting pretty darn chilly out so we called it an evening and headed inside. After dinner, we settled into our usual evening in front of the fireplace watching TV.

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