State #32 Florida Stop 9 of 9

Yep, this is it, our last stop in Florida. It’s kind of weird. This is the longest we’ve stayed in any state since we started this trip.

Things will pick up after we drop off the camper. But it was a great experience to try a different style of travel. I really think it helped Trevor realize camper life isn’t so bad.

We are at Clover Leaf Forest RV Resort. Not our favorite campground. It has a lot of full timers living here; has a more trailer park feel than a campground feel.

We were trying to find some place close to Weeki Wachee State Park. Our friends, the Stephensons, posted pictures on Instagram of them paddle boarding with manatees there back around Thanksgiving. And since manatees are my new favorite, I thought it sounded like a great idea. The boys are pretty excited too.

So we set up camp for several days to make sure we weren’t traveling on Christmas Day. We made sure to fit in a little Christmas classic movie night. The boys love Max the dog.

The weather was still pretty rainy so we decided to have our Christmas dinner on Christmas Eve Eve at our tried and true Cracker Barrel or as Tuck says in his southern accent voice Crackle Barrel. The child is and sounds very southern anyway. Why he feels the need to draw it out even more to try to sound more southern I’ll never know.

After lunch it was time to go to the movies. The boys have been dying to see the last Stars Wars movie. Today was a great day for that given the rain. Yep, that’s my knuckle heads channeling their inner Jedi.

Christmas Eve started with a stop at Weeki Freshwater Adventures for some kayaking down Weeki Wachee Springs.

Thanks Kendra for the post or I would have never thought about this place without you. It ranks up there with some of our most favorite adventures on this trip. The water maintains a year round temperature of about 72/74 degrees and the water is crystal clear.

It’s beautiful and it’s perfect for seeing manatees. You know I liked this adventure when you hear I didn’t complain that I was on the water and it was drizzling rain. This was my paddle buddy. Trevor and Mason paired up on the other kayak.

We saw three sets of mama and baby manatees in addition to several manatees just swimming in the water by themselves.

The boys got out and played a little in the water. It was shallow in most areas and you can see the bottom.

Towards the end of the kayak route the water gets dark. Not a chance of me getting in that water but Mason wasn’t scared. At Hospital Hole the water is really deep and lots of manatees flock to that area, so Mason got out of the kayak and slipped into the tea colored murky water to take a swim with the manatees. He and Trev were close enough that they were able to touch one. Even though manatees are docile, they are wild animals and there is no telling what else was in that water.

To say the least the day was going great and it wasn’t even lunchtime yet.

Weeki Freshwater Adventures provided us with the life vests, kayaks, paddles, 4 hours on the water, and a bus ride back to the park. So worth every dime! Things to know before you go: The paddle is downstream so you barely have to paddle except to steer or, if in my case, you are in a kayak with need for speed Tuck. It only takes about 2 to 2 1/2 hours to make the trip but use the whole 4 hours. It’s totally worth it! The first three to four miles are the prettiest, after that you see the houses lined up along the edges of the water instead of just nature, plus the water gets dark. Only non-disposable containers are allowed on the water so no ziplock baggies or single use water bottles. Luckily, I had some non-disposables. Freshwater Adventures is on the side to the back the State Park entrance parking lot so you don’t have to pay admission to the park to do the adventures.

After a quick bite to eat, we went over to Weeki Wachee Spring State Park. This is were we paid admissions so we could see the mermaid show. They had three shows that day and each were different. We went to the Christmas show. I was excited; the boys not so much. They thought it was too girly. I was impressed with their underwater abilities. They didn’t want to see the other shows. I would have gone to the others but no sense in pushing them.

After the mermaid show, we went to the wildlife show. Tuck decided to pet the alligator this time.

Then on a short river boat ride (it’s included with your admission, so why not). The rangers are great at spotting the wildlife and giving information about them. We even saw a sleeping manatee. This is a great way to see the manatees and other wildlife if you can’t or don’t want to kayak or paddle board down the springs.

Then it was back to the camper to have dinner and head off to Candlelight Service at a church close to the campground. Thanks to First Baptist Brooksville for being so welcoming to visitors.

Christmas was pretty low key for us this year. No family get-togethers, no Christmas parties, no massive decorations, no room for lots of presents. Just chilled and hung out with each other. Even though I wasn’t getting ready to prepare a big Christmas lunch, we had our traditional cinnamon roll and bacon breakfast.

The boys opened a couple presents and then we made gingerbread cookies, decorated gingerbread houses, ate junk (the boys were super pumped about my you’re-free-to-have-junk-without-mom-fussing-day present), and played Mason’s new National Parks version of monopoly game.

After getting laundry done and all packed up we left Brooksville headed north. It was a long travel day and we didn’t want to get “swamped” with the holiday traffic.

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