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My First Trip to Oklahoma (In Pictures)

(Almost a month late)

Though we did a lot during our four-day trip, I mostly have pictures from our visit to Hugh’s grandparents in Perry and a walking tour around Tulsa. And they’re mostly of places and things, not humans.



I Was Off the Grid, Part 2

While I can’t complain about having a week off of work to spend at the beach, I will say that Hugh and I were less than thrilled when the 10 friends who had inhabited our giant house left us mid-week.

That afternoon we had about 45 minutes of beach time before thunder storms rolled in and forced us inside for less than entertaining daytime TV and afternoon naps. We eventually got up the motivation to go see a movie (Bad Teacher), came back and made dinner from the remnants of various friends’ shopping trips, ate dinner, watched more bad TV, and slept again. Ah, the joys of vacation.

The next day we were determined to have an adventure, so we drove a few miles over to Roanoke Island to see some history and take in some sights. Roanoke Island was the infamous site of the “Lost Colony,” a group of settlers who went inexplicably missing within three years. It is also where the first American child, Virginia Dare, was born. This is a monument to her:

Sometime after settlers came back, they built a fort to defend against the Spanish. I’m pretty sure it’s call Fort Raleigh.

It’s pretty much just earthworks with a flag in the middle, but I’m sure it did the trick at the time.

Roanoke Island is also home to the country’s longest-running outdoor production, a play about the Lost Colony called, “The Lost Colony.” Andy Griffith got his acting start in the production, and lives on the island to this day. It’s actually in an outdoor theater in front of this building, which I apparently don’t have pictures of.

When we were bored of the Lost Colony — approximately 30 minutes later — we took a last minute left turn and parked it in Manteo for the afternoon. We walked across the bridge to Manteo’s Waterfront Festival Park, declined to pay $8 to see the museum, make believe Indian Village, and recreated ship Elizabeth II, and walked back.

We took in the sights at Manteo’s tiny waterfront full of boats, restaurants, inns, shops and boutiques…

And ran into this little guy (who I’m convinced is a fox pup).

Before sitting down for lunch and a beer at the Full Moon Cafe, we stopped at the Marshes Lighthouse only to find that the stairs to the top were roped off.

We spent the rest of the afternoon (and week) with some family that happened to be staying less than a mile down the road from us:

When I say family, I mean they’re not related by blood but they are family. They’re my godparents (my parents’ best friends) and their parents, siblings, siblings-in-law, nieces and nephews. And they were just wonderful to include us in their fun for the rest of the week.

I’m sad vacation is over. On to planning the next trip!

Mermaid Spotting at a Roadside Spectacle and Slice of Classic Americana

Yes it’s taken me five days to write about mermaids.

The parents and I hopped a flight to Florida last weekend to see Amanda (my cousin? godsister? parents’ friends’ daughter? debate continues) graduate from the University of Florida. On our little drive from Tampa to Ocala, we stopped to see the Weeki Wachee Mermaids.

I was skeptical from the moment we started discussing it. A mermaid show? Mermaids? Okay, Dad, let’s go see those mermaids.

We parked in the conspicuously empty parking lot on the side of the road, indicated only by a small sign. The ticket counter, though set up to corral long lines, was vacant except for the one person in the window who took our money.

The mermaid sightings began early.

I was convinced we were in the middle of a horror movie and looked over my shoulder as we ventured through the gates and into the park. This egret seems normal, I thought.

Yes he was normal enough to get spooked by the sound of my camera’s shutter. Sigh of relief.

We made it to the park just in time for the 2 p.m. showing of Fish Tales, which was not the marquee show The Little Mermaid. I clung to Mom’s side and we walked down a ramp to the underwater theater for the show, the reason we stopped at this tourist trap.

We found a seat in the bleachers facing the wall of an aquarium. After an introductory video about the history of the mermaids (trained to breath and perform under water by a former Navy SEAL) and the town of Weeki Wachee Springs (whose mayor is a former mermaid), the curtains went up and we were staring at 16 feet of clear natural spring water, fish and turtles included.

And then this happened.

Those are women. Wearing mermaid fins of some kind. Swimming around with turtles and fish. They breathe using air hoses and swim dance in a synchronized routine to music which they can apparently hear under the water. Such a spectacle.

The kicker, though, was their finale. It was a patriotic number performed in red, white and blue outfits to Lee Greenwood’s “Proud to be an American.”

I can’t make this stuff up.

The blue hairs in the crowd really enjoyed the closing number and stood applauding for a while as Dad and I hurried outside to get a photo op with a mermaid.

Mom couldn’t back up far enough to get her tail in the picture, but she had one don’t worry.

After the excitement of meeting a mermaid in real life, we wandered through the park to see what else it had to offer. There was a boat ride on the springs, a wildlife show and a few dining establishments, but all I saw were peacocks.


They were on low branches and high branches, walking through the grass and following me down the sidewalk.

On our way out we were getting slightly delirious from all the fun.

If you’re near Ocala, Florida, do yourself a favor and visit the mermaids at Weeki Wachee Springs. It was really, really worth it.

Chicago Adventures Part 3: The Rest of the Trip, in Polaroids

To catch up, read Part 1 and Part 2.

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