On to the rest of my vacation! I have to call this one an extreme beach vacation because it simply was not your typical lay out, catch some waves kind of trip. That’s usually how I roll; just kicking back, no schedule, no “to do” list. Apparently this is not how the rest of my family rolls; not this trip! This my friends, was a trip so intense even extreme doesn’t seem to do it justice. It was more like boot camp! We were up at dawn every day either biking, hiking the beach, or kayaking for hours followed by a power swim in the ocean. There were always a series of afternoon activities ranging from power shopping to sightseeing which finally would lead to ending the day at one of the many laid back beach restaurants where we could just sit outside, relax…enjoy the humidity (yuck) and listen to a band or two. Nonstop but lots of fun, exhaustion, and sheer bliss.
Regarding the beach restaurants, I need to say that although the atmosphere was lovely, eating gluten-free safely was a very stressful task. In restaurants where everything is deep-fried and all of the meals are served in a basket, I didn’t get the feeling that cross-contamination was on anyone’s mind; well except for me that is! I just stuck to the basics, even though it wasn’t very exciting – usually a plain grilled chicken salad since I don’t really like fish. It was a bit brutal to eat that while everyone else was digging into french fries, hush puppies and deep-fried southern bliss, but I didn’t get sick, and that’s what matters. Plus, with the hefty workouts and super clean eating I even lost a few pounds (now that is my kind of vacation, going home smaller than you arrived!).
There was one really exciting treat that I hadn’t even heard of before, rock shrimp. These huge shrimp look like mini lobster tails, and they taste like it too…yummm! I ordered mine without seasoning, but they also come coated in what looked like an Old Bay seasoning mix (oh how I love Old Bay and it’s gluten-free too!). You can eat rock shrimp as is or dip them in butter (just like lobster) and they are delicious. Best Florida discovery by far. I am not into fish, but shellfish are my weakness…I blame that on growing up in Maine…lobster…yummm…
In addition to the scrumptious shrimp there were live dolphins, sea turtles, and manatees…oh my! No sharks thank goodness…well at least none that I actually saw, I had those moments in the water where I felt something slimy graze my legs, ewww. Where are the pictures you ask? Well as you’ve probably noticed, I am not the world’s best photographer, but I give it my all with my iPhone! Trying to get wild dolphins and sea creatures on film is harder than you may think. Every time a dolphin would crest I would grab my phone, but by the time I actually took the picture all you could see was the water! I have a lot of those…. The sea turtle nests were really interesting, we kept checking them but no hatchlings while we were there. Did you know that the only lights safe for checking turtle nests on the beach at night are red LED lights?
Even the manatee’s managed to keep their identities hidden. We kayaked with them and I was sure they were going to tip me over; their little noses would pop up way too close to my unsteady kayak and they would sniff and blow water. But it turns out I was the culprit here, I didn’t need any help falling in, I did it all on my own! It was so gross being thrown into the murky brown bay water; I hoped Flipper would come to rescue me but apparently in real life dolphins don’t care if you drown from your own stupidity! Fortunately, after my initial panic attack I realized that I could touch the bottom, so crisis averted.
What was my favorite animal sighting in Florida you ask? Even at the beach you can’t take the country out of the girl. The cows of course!
Check this out, only in Florida will you find Egrets hanging out in the cow pastures!
Where did you go on your last vacation? Do you find it difficult to eat gluten-free when you’re away from home?