Monthly Archives: December 2013

24 Hours of Disney

disney lights 6


We caught up with Patricia, Simon, Isabella and Charlotte on the last 2 days of their Disney vacation last week and had a blast… We spent 24 hours at Disney and didn’t step foot in any of the theme parks, but still felt the magic!

walt disney world


We drove from Grandma Liz & Grandpa Bob’s on Friday morning and got to the land of dreams at lunch time. Disney has a full range of accommodations to fit different budgets. With this being a quick visit, we opted to stay at the Disney Campground, also known as Fort Wilderness. We’ve stayed there before in their cabins and are impressed with the amenities.

fort wilderness


We got ourselves checked in and received our “mickey bands” – they hold all of your reservation information and are used to charge things etc. Totally impressive how they are personalized, both in the box and on the back of the band.

mickey bands


Then it was off to Magic Kingdom and the Polynesian Hotel to find the rest of the gang!

magic kingdom


the gang at lunch


It was great for Hunter to have some quality Cousin time as he is starting to miss friends from home. The kids enjoyed the pool all afternoon, even though it was a bit of a cool day. They even participated in some of the pool side games.

hunter isabella games


We did the luau dinner & show at the Polynesian Hotel and the kids enjoyed the dancing, although it was a bit late for Charlotte… Hunter’s favourite part was the fire twirler – it was impressive!

tim & charlotte


The hotel was decorated so beautifully for christmas that we had to take photos of everyone.

Hunter spent the night at the hotel having a sleepover and Tim and I headed back to the Campground, after a short contemplation of just sleeping in the camper where it was parked at the Polynesian parking lot. One of the amazing things about the Disney Campground this time of year is the festive decorations that are put up by individual campsites. This is not a Disney corporate thing. We took a walk around to enjoy the lights and I was in awe of it all.

Saturday morning the kids all hit up a character breakfast with Aunt Patricia and it was a wonderful treat for Hunter, who is still a major fan of the characters. We were able to fit in another swimming session before it was time to say goodbye.

We are looking forward to seeing them in March in California for another cousin meet-up!

Horse Riding at Lady Hawk Farm

the group photo


Ever since we were at the Haunted Headless Horse Farm, Hunter has been asking to go horseback riding – “and not one of those places where they walk you around!”.

welcome sign

We had some downtime at Grandma and Grandpa’s and I was able to find a great place for us to go – Lady Hawk Farm. It is a small farm just north of Brooksville, Florida located right next to the Withlacoochee State Forest. They have 10 horses and specialize in small groups.

hunter getting to know the horse

It was a fabulous day. They welcomed Hunter with open arms and he got to help brush his horse Poncho as we got ready to go.

We were out for 2 hours and it was full of smiles. They have wonderful horses and it is a true testament to how well Susan has trained them that we were able to trot and gallop when out on the trails. Hunter was beyond thrilled. There were even times that he and Poncho were out front leading the pack.

The experience continued once we were back at the barn – we all got to feed the horses their reward carrots and then Hunter helped with the horse bathing to get them all cleaned up and ready to go out to pasture.

hunter washing down Poncho


We thoroughly recommend Lady Hawk Farm for any equestrian experience. They even have a small cabin that will sleep up to 8 people for overnight stays.

Turtles Turtles everywhere….

box turtle

Florida is a wonderland for turtles. We’ve seen lots of painter turtles when we are out canoeing and discovered gopher tortoises when out biking along the trails. They are very slow moving and dig holes in the dirt to live in.

turtle underside

We’ve found them on the side of the road, on the side of the bike path and actually on the road trying to cross… We have one just at the end of the campground road that we check on every day.

In search of manatees in central Florida

hunter tim swimming platform2


Last year we came to visit Grandpa Bob and Grandma Liz at their place in central Florida for an early Christmas. Grandpa took us out canoeing to some local spots to check out the Manatees and it was a HIT. Over 3 outings, we probably saw and experienced over 100 Manatees. With that memory in mind, we were all very excited to come back this year!!

The two local hot spots are the Weeki Wachee springs and the Crystal River springs. When the ocean and air temps start to cool down in the winter, the manatees head inland to these springs as they are a constant 72f.

the gang with canoe crystal river

Unfortunately for us this year, the air temps are warm (sitting up in the 80s during the day and only dropping down to the high 60s at night) so the manatees are staying out in the ocean. We got lucky and found this mom and baby headed out towards the ocean as we were leaving Crystal River Springs.

manatees beside boat

We took 2 trips to the Weeki Wachee as it is only about 20 minutes away. We park down stream at Rogers park and then paddle up the river about 45 minutes. With no manatees to be found, we decided to make the most of the hot weather and enjoyed the rustic swimming park features…

Our total Manatee count this year was 3 – a definite drop!!! We felt we should at least get a token photo to remember our canoe adventures by 🙂

family manatee photo

In search of alligators in the everglades

water lilly 2


What to do on a sunny afternoon in southern Florida? Take your canoe into the everglades and go searching for alligators of course!

lee tim hunter canoe

Uncle Andy and Aunt Shannon live just on the edge of the everglades so we loaded up 2 canoes and went for a short drive. At the put in it was us in our little boats and a handful of tourist swamp boats that made alot of noise!

bob andy canoe

The temperatures were a little cool (for southern Florida – us notherners were still quite happy) and some of the Alligators seemed to be quite lethargic. We got within a foot of one before it noticed us and swamp away.



aligator 2


lee tim hunter canoe 2


We paddled for about 2 hours and saw close to 15 Alligators which made for a fun afternoon!