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.

👋😊

Respect the Fin 💙🦈💙

Many people see sharks as trophies 🏆. Something to be battled and killed, just for a photo and bragging rights. Fishermen catch them, slice their fins off and toss them back in the ocean, alive to drown. Sometimes, their livers are taken for cosmetics like lipsticks, as well as other products. At least some fishermen will use their entire body; eat the meat and use parts for souvenirs.

Many of these acts against sharks are just horrific…it’s just tragic. But there’s always hope that things can change!

Through education, our voices joined together, and how we spend our money, can make a change for these beautiful creatures!

To keep the sharing of shark experiences going, I’m going way back to one of my earliest interactions! I was on a pier and fishermen were braving the cold winter weather to catch fish to take home and eat. Every once in a while, they pull a little shark up.

🦈 Smooth Dogfish Shark Mustelus canis

These guys prefer to live in the warmer waters of the Western Atlantic Ocean, and munch on crustaceans and mollusks as they have teeth designed for crushing rather than sharp blades like many other sharks we know and love. 🦈 This species also stays on the smaller end of the scale, at about 4′ for a full grown adult. So the dogfish pictured here is clearly a juvenile! Awe! 🙌😅

Fishermen pulled this little guy up during the winter months, here in north Florida, while they were really fishing for Whiting fish. At least while I was there, they threw the sharks back into the water. Along with Dogfish sharks, the fishermen also pulled up young Bonnethead sharks (small hammerhead sharks).

At the time, I was just excited to see and touch a shark, and while we knew the seconds were ticking how long this shark could be out of the water, getting some photos I thought were necessary. Not only for identifying, but getting a good message out to the public. This was before selfies, but we need to be sensitive to animals when we want a photo with one. We can’t stress them out or kill them for a simple photo.

So as we celebrate sharks and want to save them, get to know them! I love Peppermint Narwhal’s graphics and they sell this as a great poster!

The top photo is from Respect the Fin company, so you should check out their social media and website. A Miami based group wants to keep fins on sharks and keep sharks in our oceans. Apparently, Miami is a huge hub for the shark finning industry! 😱

We can all do something and we SHOULD! We can’t let shark finning happen right under our nose and simply do nothing.

Let’s try to keep up this excitement over shark conservation and be the change. 💙🦈💙🙌

References:

Smooth Dogfish shark Facts https://www.floridamuseum.ufl.edu/fish/discover/species-profiles/mustelus-canis/