The alarm goes off at 5:00am. Mike gets up and dresses for the morning, opting for swim trunks rather than briefs. As the coffee brews, the kids and I get up and dress in a similar fashion. After a quick cup off coffee and a bite of breakfast, we walk into the dark, wet, chilly morning and head to the truck. A few miles down the road, we arrived at our destination: River Ventures. After a cheery welcome, short video, contortionist act (putting on the wet suit), and pontoon boat ride, we slipped into the Crystal River to “Swim with Manatees.”
This activity was on Mike’s “someday-I-want-to-do” list. So, as I was plotting our route from Utopia, TX to Tampa, FL, I found Crystal River to be the place for this activity. Yesterday’s drive from Pensacola to here was really long, and we were all pretty exhausted. Yet, there wasn’t much complaining while getting ready this morning. I think we were all looking forward to the experience.
After getting into the river, we donned our masks and snorkels and set to floating on our bellies like old pros. Or not. I have never successfully used a mask and snorkel in the past, and I was a bit leery about this time. Miranda, too, was having a bit of difficulty getting the rhythm, so my mommy-alert was on high. It took a little time (and calming breaths) until I was able to successfully float with my face in the water (while breathing through the tube). Miranda caught on as well.
We explored Three Sisters Springs, finding a few manatees taking a siesta on the river’s bottom. Several manatees and their calves rested in their “safe” area—we were not allowed to enter that space.
When we were within 30 minutes until heading back, Harrison and I returned to the boat. Harrison’s lips were blue, he was shivering/shaking like crazy, and he didn’t seem to be mentally processing things well. I, too, was shivering and decided to join him. We dried off as best as possible, donned our jackets, and tried to still our shivering/shaking legs.
While the boy and I sat on the boat, Mike and Miranda joined the rest of the group for another “look” around. I’m so glad they did because both were able to pet manatees. In fact, Miranda had the longest encounter of our group. Read the comments for Mike’s experience and check out Miranda’s take on swimming with the manatees.
P.S. - The title of this post should make sense to most parents with teens or younger. If you are not familiar with Barbara Manatee, this youtube video should help you.