Web Cowgirl 衛 思 維 (webcowgirl) wrote,
Web Cowgirl 衛 思 維

Orlando day 11: Cocoa Beach and pirate golf

Well, today was mostly oriented around driving to Cocoa Beach to catch a boat at 2 PM for a 2 hour manatee tour in the Thousand Island nature preserve. It was gorgeous; multiple mangrove swamps surrounding a giant lagoon (the so-called Banana River), with all sorts of wildlife just everywhere. I kept a tally of birds: Minor blue heron. Great blue heron. Cardinal. Anhinga. Brown pelican. Osprey. Ibis. Cormorant. We succeeded in seeing dolphins, who were racing back and forth against seawalls (protecting people's houses from erosion) catching fish, and also some manatees, who were doing their manatee thing (eating) but being very shy about coming near the boat. That was a little disappointing but we enjoyed the two hours of chilling out under the boat's canopy, and the scary fundies sitting across from us kept to themselves while the pack of four gay boys got more and more fun as we kept puttering around the channels between the islands. It was supposed to be roasting hot and humid today, but it was cooler near the coast and the breeze was pleasant; really, I thought it was just perfect.

Though short on manatees, this tour was a great nature lesson, and I took some notes, for your edification (and my memory): we saw three kinds of mangrove. Red mangrove: roots drop down, covered w/barnacles. Black mangrove: spiky upwards roots. White mangrove: expansive roots. We also saw lots of Australian pine, which the Nature Conservancy is working to rip out to help restore the little islands to better health. If I come back to Florida in the next two years, rather than staying in Orlando, I'd like to settle myself at the Beach Place guest houses, Atlantic Avenue, Cocoa Beach, where I could walk straight to the ocean, as we did after we were through with our boat ride. We never made it to the wildlife preserve we were going to see, but we had a great time doing what we did do and didn't feel rushed.

We then headed back to Orlando and stopped by the Clarion to pick up my rather tardily-arriving pile of tea from Silk Road teas; then went to Number Uno for more Cuban food (they treated us like kings and asked about my sister and my niece, which was totally gratifying) and then went to I-Drive for a round of Pirate theme goofy golf. It was just ridiculous and totally fun if a bit sweaty; it was cruel that so many of the holes had a water feature that actually meant the ball, if hit incorrectly, would be swept away into a pond in the middle of the property. The water also raised the ambient humidity to near-sauna levels. That said, I did get to shot a hole inside a cave, a lifetime first for me. (Pix are on FB if you're interested.)

We finished up around ten then went back to the hotel, where we got the accounts sorta settled and then packed, took showeres, and did the normal end of day/end of trip stuff. I figure I'll be heading out of here around 2PM tomorrow; I've got a late checkout, but it's not nearly as late as I'd like it to be, so I'll have some time chilling in the lobby. This has really been a great trip - this part, anyway - and I certainly won't mind staying here for a while longer and getting in one last swim during the heat of the day.
Tags: manatees, orlando, travel
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