Today was a day I had been looking forward to, a visit to one of Florida's oldest attractions Weeki-Wachee Springs. It has been open for over 70 years and seemed to be a complete anathema to the new theme parks of Orlando.
Breakfast was the usual fare and no hiccups with the water supply meant that we were in the car for the short drive to the Weeki-Wachee State Park. The car park was virtually empty and we easily parked on the front row. There was no queue to get in at the gates and it only cost us a very reasonable $13 each to enter. For the first 5 minutes we thought we might have been the only ones in the park and it all seemed quite surreal.
We decided to take the free River Trip to start with. It was really quite lovely. The river's source is the Weeki- Wachee Spring which is the largest in the USA pumping out millions of gallons of water per hour. The water is 99.8% pure. The river only averages 3 feet deep and in parts is a beautiful clear blue colour. There is lots of wildlife in and around the water. We were about a month too early to see any Manatees but were kept amused by the large Grey Mullet that kept jumping high out of the water. The trip only lasted 25 minutes but was worth the admission on its own.
Then we went to the main attraction in the park - The Mermaid Show. I was almost giddy with anticipation! The Theatre is sunk underground alongside the Spring itself, which is amazingly some 550 feet deep. The mermaid shows have been running for 70 years and have developed a cult following. Apparently they were a particular favourite of Elvis. Previous shows have been called things like 'The Little Mermaid', 'Alice in Waterland' and one I would have loved to have seen 'Mermaids on the Moon'. The show we saw was called 'Fishy Tales'.
Basically it consists of 3 young girls who dance and sing(!) underwater in time with the music. They breathe by placing into the mouths when needed individual pipes, which are pumping oxygen. It must be really difficult and but they made it look so easy. The water is quite cold as well. On top of this they are wearing Mermaid tales. The show only lasts 15 minutes but they must be grateful for that.
I thought it was very clever and very old school. Karen was less appreciative and thought I was just dazzled by the skimpy costumes. I wasn't as I was more entranced by the danger, difficulty and grace in equal measure. One thing I was certain of is that Neil would not have been impressed had he have been here. The only let down was that in the pre show film it showed the Mermaid eating a banana and drinking from a bottle underwater but todays performers didn't show off these skills.
We have a quick wander round the gift shop where Karen bought a magnet. I declined the opportunity of a photo with a mermaid on the basis she hadn't been one of the ones we had seen performing.
After this we walked to see the Reptile Show (all included in our $13 admission). It was just OK. There was an annoying bloke in the audience who kept shouting out questions after each creature was brought out. The girl doing the show answered them well and we heard him grudgingly admit afterwards that she knew her stuff.
By now we could not take any more excitement so decided to leave the park. Our next stop was to be Target for Karen to have a quick whizz around. We then had our lunch in a Panera Bread that was conveniently on the same complex. I then had to nip into a Walmart that was also close by to purchase a battery toothbrush.
For years I had steadfastly ignored Karen's claims of how good her electric toothbrush was. Then over the summer my new (and pretty) Hygienist recommended I gave one a try. So since September I have been using one at home. This is my first trip going back to just the old fashioned manual brush since then and 3 Days in I just feel my teeth are not clean. So like Karen I wanted a battery one for when we are away. Walmart had a special offer on the Oral B battery ones so that was a good outcome.
We then tried in vain to find the beach at Hernando Beach. After trying lots of different ways we decided it was a beach in name only and therefore most disappointing. I may start a petition to change the name of the place to Hernando Beach-not-next-to-the-sea, as it was miles from the actual coast.
As the weather was still lovely we went back to the Hotel and had a hour by the pool. I went in the Spa again but as the water was so hot I could only manage 5 minutes for the fear of being deep fried.
In the evening we went to a highly rated Shrimp Shack restaurant called Gill Dawg. We can highly recommend it. The food was excellent (especially the Mahi Mahi sandwich). The drinks were priced very reasonably as well. The highlight though was the singer/guitarist who played lots of American classics including Jimmy Buffet that the whole shack sang along to as the food was being served. There was certainly a real mix of clientele and everyone was very friendly. We must have enjoyed it as we didn't leave until after 9pm, bringing to an end although good day.