Sunday, July 21, 2013

Florida - Tupelo & Cape Girardeau - 6/16/2013

This is the final post on our Florida vacation with the grand kids.  There are a total of 8 posts on the trip including this one.  Check the Archive List on the right side of the blog for the others.

The beach at Fort Walton Beach is beautiful and serene in the early morning.

This photo of the empty beach chairs was taken by Sigrid from our hotel veranda.  It was selected to be published in our neighborhood magazine in August.  Way to go Sigrid!

After leaving Fort Walton Beach, FL, we made our way northward, on some smaller but scenic roads, to Tupelo, Mississippi.  We had to stop and pay our respects at the birthplace of the King, Elvis Presley.  Sigrid has now been full circle with Elvis.  We have visited his final resting place in Memphis and now his place of birth.

We spent the night in West Memphis, Arkansas which happens to be just across the Mississippi River from Memphis, Tennessee.  Sort of like Kansas City, Kansas and Kansas City, Missouri.  We were trying to avoid the high crime rate in Memphis, TN.  It doesn't matter which side of the river you are on in Kansas City.

Sigrid has always wanted to visit Cape Girardeau and we were going to drive right by it on the interstate as we headed towards St Louis....there wouldn't be a better time.  We stopped at a park on the banks of the Mississippi River.

The city traces it's roots back to the French fur traders and was established around 1765.  Today it has a population of nearly 40,000 making it the 16th largest city in Missouri.  The city is home to Southeast Missouri State College and it's most famous prodigy is none other than Rush Limbaugh.

Tyler and Petra check out the telescope.  If there aren't any barges on the river, the only thing to look at from here is river debris.

If you notice that foggy looking area on the river under the bridge, you are seeing a massive rain storm heading directly for us along with gigantic cloud to ground lightning.  We ran like hell for the car and sat there until the initial surge of the storm passed and the rain let up a little.

The rest of the drive home to Lee's Summit (Kansas City suburb) was gloomy with spots of light rain.  We were glad to get home as we always are after a long driving trip.

Florida - Fort Walton Beach - 6/15/2013

We purposely went a little out of the way as we headed for home so the kids would have one more opportunity to swim in the ocean.  In the case of Fort Walton Beach, it was the Gulf of Mexico.  We checked out of the hotel pretty early so we could get to Fort Walton and still have lots of beach time.  The kids weren't totally "with it" yet this morning.

By the time we got to the hotel in Fort Walton Beach, they had perked up considerably.

Relaxing before swimming.

We had a nice view of the beach from our veranda.


As you can see, the Best Western we stayed at is right on the beach.  It is one of a string of hotels that were all built in the early 1960's.  While the structures are dated, the rooms were nice and the view can't be beat.

Petra saw a photo of someone on a beach covered in sand so she had to try it too.

Tyler did his best impression of a sea turtle hatchling but he was crawling the wrong direction.

As the sun sets, we end our beach adventures in Florida.  Tomorrow, we start the serious drive towards home.  That is up next.

Florida - Sea World - 6/14/2013

Sea World is a nice change of pace from the Disney parks.  It isn't nearly as crowded for starters, although there was a good sized crowd there the day we visited.  Ride waits at Sea World are more like 20 minutes rather than the 2 hours at Disney.  The shows are held in large amphitheaters that seat thousands of people so there is very little wait to get a seat and you don't have to worry about getting as seat as long as you are there 15 minutes or so before the show starts.

Food is very expensive at Sea World.  Sigrid purchased an all you can eat/drink all day pass which saved us a ton of money.  We were at the park long enough to eat twice.

Tyler and Petra both rode this coaster.  I think it was called The Manta.

We saw both the Orca and dolphin shows and really enjoyed them.

Sea World trainers used to ride the Orca's and physically interact much more with them in the past.  A couple of years ago a trainer was killed while performing in front of a crowd in the stadium.  This capped years of injuries and close calls by other trainers and forced Sea World to eliminate any close contact between the Orca's and humans.  Trainers do not enter the water while the Orca's are there.

The Orca's thoroughly wet down the first 15 rows of the stadium by splashing water over the barrier walls with their talks.  They cup their talks for maximum efficiency.

Tyler and Petra were completely soaked but loved it.

The observation tower is a landmark for Sea World.

I didn't know that Jodie Foster worked at Sea World.

Amazing how high out of the water the dolphins can get.

After the dolphins wowed us, then the human's took to the air in a trapeze show.

Don't miss Sea World if you go to Orlando.  Up next is Fort Walton Beach, FL as we make our way home.