Once we had stuffed ourselves to the gills in New Orleans, we had to make a move east to keep on schedule. Danielle was about bursting out of the motorhome with excitement over the prospect of sunny beaches and warm waters in Florida. Not to mention her genuine need to see manatees!
NASA Infinity Science Center – Mississippi
We stopped here on a whim, just passing by on the freeway when we spotted a huge rocket engine which was enough to draw us in (and we didn’t have much planned for the day). For $12 a person ($1 off per person if you have AAA) you can explore how NASA rockets are made, what each piece of equipment is used for, and walk through a recreation of a rocket. There are other exhibits for you to learn about hurricanes, data collection practices and data interpretation, and for the youngin’s they have a station for you to build paper airplanes (which we couldn’t pass up). It’s a nice stop if you’re passing through.
Timpoochee Trail – Northern Florida (Panhandle, Gulf Coast)
James and I have been using the app, All Trails, and it’s come up with some pretty great trails like this one: The Timpoochee Trail (James kept calling it Toochoopoo trail…) which is 18.2 miles of road bike riding along the beach and through residential/ resort areas. We got there pretty late in the day, so we only biked about 4 miles there and 4 miles back, but it was really flat and easy, and the weather was just right for an evening bike ride.
This beach is absolutely gorgeous. The white sand is like powdered sugar underneath your feet and seashells line the waters for miles and miles. We were so excited by the thought of snorkeling in Florida beaches that the day before, we had stopped off at a Walmart to pick up some cheap snorkel gear and brought it out with us to the beach only to find that the waters were fairly murky due to a few windy dys in a row. James took one step into the water, just past where the sand dropped off a few inches, yelped, and practically jumped out of the water. Me, being in a state of panic as it was because I couldn’t see what was in the water, went into extreme panic mode, shoved James away from me out into the water with his attacker (I’m so sorry, James, I didn’t mean to!) and booked it to shore before asking James if he was okay. He was fine, just surprised. He had been pinched by a crab (James will tell you it was only 4 inches, but I saw that sucker washing up towards the shore and it was at least 6 or 7 inches across). It took at least 15 minutes of hard work to convince me to get back into the water and now James won’t let me live it down (in a loving way of course).
Manatee Springs State Park
During winter a small number of manatees stay in the warmer waters of the spring at this site, we just missed them by a couple of weeks. However, there was still plenty for us to do. We snorkeled in the crystal clear spring water, marveling at the fish who were less than bothered by us, kayaked the Sawanee river watching turtles and alligators (some small and a couple quite large ones) while we floated with the current (the paddling up current was not so peaceful, much grumping and groaning). This was one of Danielle’s favorite spots so far, but you have to visit the springs or do the kayaking either early in the morning or later in the evening when the springs aren’t as crowded, that’s when we found that it’s the quietest and most relaxing.
Despite the disappointment of missing the manatees in Manatee Springs, we both really enjoyed our first few days in Florida. We kept on rolling south along the Gulf Coast in search of Manatees, more beaches and gators!
Here’s a video we made from our time in Florida! We’ve only written about the first few places in this video, but we promise there will be more soon! We apologize for the lack of posts lately (as we’re currently writing from South Dakota…whoops).