Driving west across Florida on Route 41, we took the time to stretch our legs at The Naples Depot Museum in Naples, Florida. The museum is a restored Seaboard Air Line Railway passenger station that was built in 1926. Passenger trains used the depot from 1927 until 1971.
As we continued on our journey through Florida on US Route 41, we stopped at Port of the Islands, on the edge of the Everglades, for the night. While there, we discovered that Manatee Sightseeing Eco-Tourism Adventure operates out of the resort's marina. We signed-up online and early the next morning we met Captain Rich for our tour.
One of the things we decided to do on our road trip through Florida was to visit the Everglades. What's the best way to see the Everglades? On an airboat of course! We picked the Everglades Safari Park as our choice for a boat ride.
We are suckers for butterfly houses so when we discovered that The Key West Butterfly and Nature Conservatory was only a block from our hotel we had to make a visit. The first thing you need to know about this place is that it is hot, very hot. Even with the air conditioners running I was sweating heavily. And this was in December! But, these are tropical butterflies and birds so we pressed on to view beautiful specimens fluttering around everywhere. They claim to have 50 to 60 different types of butterflies in the room at any one time.
At the intersection of Margaret and Angela Streets is the main entrance to the Key West Cemetery. We were told that this is the best place to see iguanas on the island. The cemetery has seen better days and is in major need of maintenance. No matter, we were here for lizards.
We were up at the crack of dawn to make our way over to the pier at the southernmost end of Duval Street for a sunrise over Key West, Florida. This is a great spot with a pier which provides the perfect vantage point. The sunrise was spectacular.
We began to worry as we drove through the middle keys and all the remanents of the devastation that was Hurricane Irma. Luckily, this was short lived anxiety. By the time we arrived in Key West, Florida, all the roads were clear and there were only a few signs that the hurricane had passed through here only a few months earlier. It was time for some vacation Key West style. Our first bit of business after checking in to our hotel was to head over to Mallory Square to partake in the sunset party.
Our winter road trip had us stopping at Universal Orlando Resort's Theme Parks. It had been a few years since we had been here and we were eager to see what had changed. This was also the first time we had been here during the Christmas season.
For our visit to Universal Orlando at Christmas time, we decided to stay at the Lowes Sapphire Falls Resort. From check-in to check-out, our stay was very pleasant. It was nicely decorated and unusually quiet. We just wished it was a little cheaper. You really can't go wrong staying at any of the on-site hotels.
Riding the backroads of Georgia during pecan harvest time, we stopped at Ellis Brothers Pecans in Vienna, Georgia. Inside their store you can taste all sorts of pecan goodies. One intersting thing we discovered is just how many different varieties of pecans there are and each one really does have a different taste. This is a fantastic stop for anyone in southern Georgia.
We found ourselves in Lilburn, Georgia, just outside of Atlanta, so we decided to stop in at Legacy Station. The store is located in the back of the Kroger Shopping Center. They have a fine selection of model trains as well as scenic material. Of course with us being O-Gaugers, we picked up a couple of Lionel goodies while we were there.