This site last updated on  20-Jun-2003
The Smith Family After a safe arrival on the first day, my cousin Andrew took me and his family out for a meal at The Wyndham Palace Hotel, at the Outback Restaurant, then Arthur's. We got back at midnight local time, meaning I was up for 23 hours! Click on the picture to see Andrew (TopLeft), Cable (TopRight) Coly (BotLeft) and Cristina (BotRight).
The Smith Family & Me Me with Andrew, Cable and Coldon, before setting out for the meal. The flight was uneventful, but I can recommend Business Class, it does make life easier!! Despite stringent security on arrival at Orlando, we were still heading out of the airport just 1 hour after landing.
Everglades in a Boat

 The first trip was to the Everglades National Park. As you can see from one of the pictures, the major feature is Mosquitoes, hence the head net (Picture without!)! Though I have posted a picture of the "River of Grass" Pa-Hay-Okee in Seminole, 80% of the Glades are Mangrove Swamp, so I did a boat trip, and saw Alligators and Crocodiles in the same piece of Water, the only place in the world this occurs. Another feature of the Everglades is that it is very low. Rock Reef Pass being the highest point at just 3 feet. It is also the watershed. To the East, the water flows to the Atlantic, to the West into the Gulf.

I saw lots of birds, Egrets, and especially Ospreys. It was great being woken in the morning by a woodpecker, then to open the curtains and see an Osprey perching on a tree outside. I also had the privilege of seeing an Osprey bring a large fish home for supper. A fantastic sight!

I also managed an airboat ride. Lots of fun, but not the best way to see wildlife, since it is very noisy!!

The history and natural history of this area is quite amazing. However, the 5 day stay was shortened to 2 days so I could visit more of Southern Florida, so see below.

A Sea of Grass
Me with a Bug Net
Playing with Dolphins I headed south for Key West, where I stayed in a luxurious beach front hotel. Had probably the best meal ever which was a Herb Crusted Grouper. Next day I went to the Dolphin Research Centre to meet and learn about Dolphins. I had a fantastic day learning about them, then playing with them, then at the end of the day, I got to go in the water with them. Sorry, no pictures of that, just this one with a back view. If you are ever in Florida you should visit.
Coral Reef Next stop was Key Largo, where I got to snorkel in a coral reef off the Key. Pictures to follow, since I had to buy a disposable underwater camera, and I am waiting for the film to be developed and scanned. After Key Largo, I drove to the Gulf coast at Naples. You have to be seriously wealthy to live there. No pictures, but there really were some beautiful properties.
Darth Vader I went to MGM studios at Disney World on Friday 13th June! No bad luck tho'! Saw the parade of film characters. Darth Vader (I think that's how you spell it) is for Chris Abbott, a Star Wars fan! Also saw the Indiana Jones Experience, and in the evening the Phantasmic Experience. If you ever visit Disney World, that is a Must See.
Manatee and Calf

I visited a place called Blue Springs with Andrew. It is a place where 104 million gallons of fresh water exit a limestone reservoir each day! The water is crystal clear. You can swim right up to the hole where the water comes out. Click here to see me swimming in the hole! Whilst swimming down the river, we literally bumped into an Otter. We spent at least 10 minutes, just watching it, and later swimming with it until it went off. Later we saw a Manatee and calf. A very rare mammal, very gentle, and a bit like a Walrus. It was a real privilege to have seen it.

Cinderall's Castle In the last week of the Floridian visit, I went to Disney's Magic Kingdom. It is truly a delightful place. Did not have time to see too much, but did have two rides on the Splash Mountain. Great fun, though a little scary in parts. I can recommend a visit to anyone. I also revisited MGM studios, and saw how they made animated film. It was really interesting.
Dinner The final visit of the trip was to see "La Nouba" at the Cirque du Soleil, a permanent fixture here. If you have never been to see Cirque du Soleil, it is the most amazing show I have ever seen. A Circus true, but what presentation, and what wonderful performances. You are not allowed to take pictures, so here is a picture of Andrew, Cristina and me at dinner beforehand.
The Family

Well, the final chapter of the visit to Florida has to be concluded with a huge thank you to Andrew and Cristina for putting up with me, and Carmen for being such entertaining company. I have had a fantastic time, and they all made me so welcome. This was a self portrait taken on the night I cooked us all a meal to say "Thank you". I will miss them all very much.