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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.

During our 2013 visit, we spent so much time in the Everglades, based along the Tamiami Trail, that I decided the videos deserved a page of their own, to accommodate both the earlier visits, and the latest one. This can be found on this link, and from the front page menu.

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.

In February 2013, we stayed in Marco Island, very nice place, and really convenient for the Everglades. However, this film is of our nearest beach on the Island, Tigertail. It carries on from the main western beach, but a long spit of sand, the 'tigertail', around the north west corner, protects a lagoon, which itself has a sandy beach on the inland side, and has a large bird population. 

On this same trip, we had a couple of days at the end when to apartment on Marco was not available, so we moved north past Tampa, to the Homosassa area, and spent one day in the Homosassa Springs Wildlife Park. This a not a zoo, but the resident animals are enclosed, they are there because they are either endangered, or have been injured. This first video takes us along the waterway from the car park to the actual visitor centre, and then looks at some of the birds.


Homosassa Springs Wildlife Park has a manatee management programme, and they care for injured manatee, but also many manatee came into the waterway in winter as it is warmer, and they cannot cope with cold water. They are odd looking creatures, related to the elephant, but oddly endearing.
On our way back to the hotel, we turned off the main road in search of a beach, and eventually found an out of the way cove, complete with boat slipway, but not much else - except public toilets!

2004 Gillian Gatland

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