Adventure Thursday: Something Close to Home!

Summer is wrapping up, so I was remembering a trip that was a little closer to home…

The Brueggen Family Vacation out to Central Florida (ish) 🙌

    Snorkeling at Devil’s Den Park and Cedar Gardens right next door
    Exploring Cedar Key
    Kayaking the Rainbow River

First of all, to get the trip started on the right foot: CPR and First Aid Training. You know it’s a seriously fun trip when you get some safety training, LOL 😂

Check! Ready to go! 😎

Now to have our Annual Summer Low Country Boil! This year, we decided to celebrate the 4th of July the week after, since the crowds would be lower. Fewer hoards of people= more, relaxed fun!

Next on the family adventure, we’re off to Devil’s Den Park…

There’s a hole in the ground. A cave where you crawl into chilly spring-fed waters (so chilly is 70-72F). Some people learn to SCUBA in a pool and then graduate to the cave, but we were just going to snorkel it.

I tried to stay warm in my long sleeves and Tiger Shark Waterlust pants, because you see those nearly naked people? Yup, they were shivering something fierce! Anyways, I got use to the temperature soon enough and felt comfortable to swim around. It was really cool to swim around cave walls and see fish swimming around. The park is rather nice and I won’t mind visiting again next summer. 🐟🐟🐟

Next door, you need to make a stop at the Cedar Lakes Gardens, which are just beautiful!

While walking around, we found this very HarryPotter-ish bird house. Too small for Buckbeak and not suitable for any Phoenix, but cute nonetheless.

There’s a nice large, beautiful lake with little ponds and some amazingly cool waterfalls. Plus giant lillipads!

Our next stop was Cedar Key, a sleepy little fishing town…

There’s a few shops, lots of artwork all around, a couple of restaurants, but plenty to do if you have a boat and can leave the island. Otherwise, we felt like it was fun to say we’ve been there, but there’s not much to bring us back.

This art shop had left food out for kitties running around, but I happened to see this little box turtle! Unlike the cats (which are invasive and destructive to native species), this box turtle is a native to the island and fossils have been found of these little turtles. Box turtles have the name because they can bring their head and limbs in close and through hinges in their plastron (bottom shell), they can completely close up. Very cool!

We had to stop for lunch because that Low Country Boil can only sustain one for so long, so I had to gobble down some Cedar Key Oysters! So delicious! I love eating fresh seafood. 🤤

Finally, we spent a morning floating and kayaking down the Rainbow River. 🌈 The river’s source is from springs, coming up from the earth at 70-72F all year round. We’ve seen all sorts of wading birds, some cool river turtle species, and American Alligators.

Family trips are great. Make memories and explore your surroundings. You don’t have to pay a lot of money or travel far to find great places to make great memories.


Throwback Thursday to Argentina 🇦🇷

This trip was not that long ago, 😅 . It was just this past May (2018 in case you’re not reading this post any time soon, ha!). We were visiting Santa Fe, Argentina for an IUCN Crocodilian Specialist Group meeting, which is where my main photo was taken. 😁

I’m holding a young Broad Snout Caiman, Caiman latirostris.

Quick Caiman Facts: 🤓🐊

  • Found: Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Paraguay, and Uruguay in mangroves, marshes, and swamps.
  • Caimans are related to Alligators, but these are small to medium crocodilians at about 4-6 feet long.
  • Their strong jaws are suited to tough animals like turtles, snails, fish, and a variety of other small prey.

IUCN status: Least Concern, although many of our scientists are keeping an eye on different populations.

  • These are some of my favorite crocodilians because they have cute short snouts and feisty personalities. While all of the different crocodilians can wiggle their ears, I’ve never seen any other species do it as often as these Broad Snout Caimans. Usually a behavior signaling excitement (either positive to food or negative to a threat), and in addition to growl-y little hissing, it’s just too cute a combination. 😍❤️🐊
  • Although make no mistake, they have an incredibly strong bite! You can lose digits or worse if very unlucky to have any part of your body end up in their mouth. The photo above looks a little grainy, but that’s because it was taken through binoculars by an iPhone. It as a lone Caiman in a lake close to the conference room, which would be visited anytime the sun came out, which wasn’t often! ☔️
  • Getting back to Argentina…a Spanish speaking country but many people try to help out someone who doesn’t speak the language. Santa Fe was beautiful and had many areas for the active individual to explore the city. Huge sidewalks and some outdoor gyms. There were a lot of runners and cyclists, and even swimmers out in the river!
  • If you’re interested in birds, this was a great place for the Birder! We saw lots of cool birds, but I was surprised to see Burrowing Owls…everywhere! Well, where we were staying at least. The meeting was held at a local university and there were so many Burrowing Owl nests.
  • We also went exploring, and in addition to swarms of mosquitos, we found a beautiful turtle…
  • It rained nearly the whole time we were there, which was not fun for walking back and forth from the conference room to the hotel. However, the rain did bring out some other critters that we would otherwise have not seen, like this cool toad! 🐸 Toadly cool! Lol 😝
  • The fun part of traveling and exploring also includes experiencing different cultures. While trying to order coffee off a menu, this came to my table. Fun 🙌 but then I thought what the heck it this little shot glass of water? Sparkling water? Well, it’s there to help cleanse your palate between bites and other yummy food. Now we know, ha!
  • Instead of exploring trails around lakes, we also went on a search through the city for unique souvenirs to bring home. But I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to try this strange doorway as a way to get into the Argentina Ministry of Magic. I was unsuccessful. 🤷🏻‍♀️
  • This trip was unfortunately rained out but nonetheless it was wonderful to catch up with old friends, make new ones, and exploring another place on the globe 🗺 Keep adventuring and always keep your eyes ready for opportunities. After all, you never know if you’ll ever make it back!
  • Since we were down in South America, we thought, “Let’s just pop over to Peru 🇵🇪!” So we did! But that’s for another time… 😎👋
  • References:
  • This is a great site to learn more about all the crocodilians that I will eventually talk about. 🐊🐊🐊

    Plus, my husband John, took some amazing photos. Thank you! ❤️