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About me

We have visited Florida at least 7 times since about 1986, and 6 times since I owned a camcorder, although I do not have all the film, the earlier stuff is analog, and of the later visits, my camcorder often was out of commission. It seems that in Florida it is more likely to suffer from condensation, more even than when I go to the far east, perhaps because I take it straight from an air conditioned car and unwrap it to film with immediately. In the far east there is usually a period when it can adjust to the air temperature naturally. On one occasion the sensors went wrong after they had detected moisture, and refused to allow the camcorder to work after it had dried out, as the last information the on board computer had was that there was moisture. Infuriating.

I bought a digital camcorder in 2002, just before, and especially for, this visit, which we were aware coincided with a shuttle launch, and we hoped to get tickets to the launch. We stayed in a friends house just outside Orlando. We do love the sea however, so after we had enough of theme parks we drove over to the west coast, to revisit places we had been before. Our first time in Florida we stayed in a condo in Indian Rocks - or Indian Shores, not sure which - just south of Clearwater, and we drove over Tampa Bay and down the coast road past where we stayed previously and on to Fort De Soto, where we found a battle re-enactment going on.

After this we backtracked slightly, and picked up the main road over the entrance to Tampa Bay heading south, over the Sunshine Skyway Bridge, which is really impressive, especially from a distance and at a slight angle, it looks so steep! From there we went to our favorite beach, at Bradenton, having stayed in that town on an earlier visit. The laid back US beaches are great, just a car park under trees, boardwalks over the dunes to a quiet shoreline, but our usual spot was the far end, between this island and the next, to watch the boats, and dolphins, making their way through the channel. On the  mainland side of the island were mangroves, and there are footpaths and boardwalks so these can be enjoyed quietly.

We managed to get tickets for the  Shuttle launch, and drove over to the Space Centre. You have to arrive in the afternoon before the launch, which took place at about dawn the next morning. However those with Shuttle launch tickets do not have to leave when the other visitors do, and after seeing the usual exhibits you have a VERY long evening ahead of you until the buses take you out to the viewing area at around 3.00 in the morning. Most people just crashed out where they could find a spot, the 'old hands' brought sleeping bags, got the earliest bus and slept again on the beach which is the viewing area. You are still miles from the launch pad, but with an uninterrupted view over water. Having zoomed in to film the shuttle on then pad, once it starts to lift, I now know one needs to zoom out fairly quickly to follow it into the air, but I was too slow and lost it until it was quite high in the sky! Also, however inconvenient, bring a tripod. Never mind, at least I was there. 

We never actually stayed in the Miami area, but at least once we flew via Miami airport, and having checked out of our accommodation, we had some time to kill before the flight and went into Miami Beach.

A later visit in 2005, we stayed near Naples, convenient for the Everglades. We called in at the Big Cyprus Bend Boardwalk, on a previous visit we were driven away by mosquitoes, this time having come equipped with loads of repellent, we found there weren't many around, presumably a different time of year. Having watched the uploaded video, the flash processing seems to have made a rather strange job of the occasional passing traffic at the start, although the animal sounds have come out OK.

This boardwalk into the Fakahatchee Strand leads straight off the Tamiami Trail, highway 41, and also on the highway are numerous patches of water, frequented by many birds and alligators and easily filmed from the pull ins at the roadside. The birds seem totally oblivious of the traffic, except for one group, or maybe it was just an unusually noisy truck


Later again, in 2008, we came with friends and took them on a jetboat from Everglades City. Not our first time, but previously my camcorder was suffering from condensation, in fact it did this time also, but luckily my husband's digital camera had a Quicktime film option so I was able to use that. Not as good quality as the camcorder, but in an internet size film, you can't really tell the difference.

2004 Gillian Gatland

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