Trip Report: of Airplanes, Airboats, Earplugs & Alligators! Florida Mid Winter Break – Part 1


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So… it was 2PM on the Friday before mid-winter break, and we still hadn’t made a definite decision as to where we might go with kids when I found tickets to Florida for the incredible low price of $40.20 per person!

Motzei Shabbos, with the help of some credit card miles, a  United Airlines credit and a (very) generous dose of Siyatta Dishmaya we jumped in and booked for all 9 of us to go!

As the supposed trip planning experts, we quickly combined our past knowledge of 5 previous Florida trips (without the kids) along with the best deals on the internet on attractions, kosher food and more and created an itinerary – and – a helpful article for anyone going to or living in South Florida:

You can see that article HERE:

Practicing what we preach – we valet parked our full-size, 12 passenger van, offsite at Wally Park for the INCREDIBLE price of 4.99 per day ALL TOLD including all taxes and fees!

I was fully expecting a catch somewhere, but this was legitimately the best deal on parking I have EVER seen. We paid for 6 days, the price of parking for ONE DAY at Newark’s on-site  parking lots.

They were friendly, fast, efficient, and we highly recommend them – and no, they did not pay us to say that – they deserve it!

We marched through the airport without checking a single bag… 7 kids, 6 carry-ons, 4 knapsacks, 1 diaper bag, 1 tallis bag, 1 hatbox, 1 stroller, 1 booster seat & 1 car seat. (To all of those behind us at security… : ) sorry!)

After the TSA helped themselves to a sample of our baby formula to test for explosives, we were through, and on our way to the gate.

Two great tips to note at this point:

  1. Any lap infant may have a carry-on and personal item free, as well as a stroller and car seat on every airline we know.
  2. A child of car seat or booster seat age may have one brought along as well. ALL of these items are checked in by the gate, and you get them back as soon as you leave the plane as well.

So how do we survive a 3 hour plane ride with 7 rambunctious little ones, 12 and under?

Well, I have this sneaky idea to drop off all our kids next time as “unaccompanied minors“, then sneak onto the plane in first class for the ride to “pick them up” at the airport… but we’ll just have to wait to try that at some point in the future.

Takeoff is very interesting, so the windows help for the first 1/2 hour or so…


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(All photos taken with our Canon Rebel – buy one here on Amazon by clicking the pic below:)

Windows can be entertaining even longer than that on a clear day. Check out those ships 30,000 feet below.

Hopefully those in the surrounding seats are friendly…

To minimize the disturbance we’d certainly be creating for our immediate neighbors, we requested to be all seated together in the rear of the plane.

We were lucky enough to have great “neighbors” in the surrounding seats for our flight there.

We did not opt for the in-flight entertainment, instead banking on assortment of nosh, art supplies,

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(click the pic below for details)

mp3 player and projects we brought along to keep the kids busy.

B”H, our preparations paid off, and the flight worked out pretty well, considering what it could have been.

Another tip at this point bears mentioning:

If you suffer from ear pain from the pressure changes by take-off and landings, “Earplanes” are your answer.

Tthey are incredible and work like a charm, with or without  the old chewing gum standby.
CLICK THE PICTURES Below, to order from Amazon – cheapest by far!

Adult Size:

Child Size:

 

On the way out, our pilot was great and allowed us and the kids into the cockpit to see the instruments and to also take these great pics.

Whew… 609 words and we haven’t yet gotten off the airplane!!

Before we do, we need to let you know that when you want to stay with the best in Florida, stay with Florida Kosher Villas!

(continued from above the sponsorship jump)

We were lucky enough to stay with family friends in North Miami Beach, and staying true to our planning post from earlier, will let you know our itinerary momentarily.

[Before we do, we MUST let you know NEVER, EVER, EVER make the mistake we did of renting a car from a place called Fox’s Rental Cars in Fort Lauderdale.

Stick with a national brand like Alamo, and you will save $$. Cheaper in this case WAS NOT, and the experience really left a sour taste in our mouth, to say the very least.  I wish we had seen these reviews first]

Ok… on to the fun!

Day one in Florida… we headed out to South Florida Kosher with these great coupons in hand, and loaded up with food for the road to Sawgrass Recreation Park with these awesome copuons in hand:

Airboat Tour and Exhibit Pass or Gator Night Tour for One or Two from Sawgrass Recreation Park (Up to 37% Off)

…where this delightful sign offered us their “Specialty Gator Tail Bites,” tender bites of alligator tail lightly seasoned and grilled with sawgrass sauce…. ewwwww! Glad to eat only kosher!

We were thrilled to meet another frum family who had read our Florida article and had our coupons online!!! : ) Go greatfrumtrips.com!!

If you haven’t yet been to the Florida Everglades, you definitely should go sometime. The mixture of freshwater swamp land, sawgrass and abundant alligators is quite incredible, and there are tens of places offering you an excursion on an airboat – something of an “only in the Florida everglades experience”.

What is an airboat you ask?

Something of the marriage between a giant rowboat,

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a stepped ‘staircase’ seating setup you sit on so you can all see over the person in front of you…

…and 2 monstrous fans powered by jet engines mounted on the rear  of the boat that blow forcefully backwards, pushing the boat quickly forward.

Why such a strange contraption?

The tall sawgrass of the everglades is unpredictable and would wrap around and destroy any kind of regular boat submerged propellers.

The fans outside the water coupled with the flat bottom allow the boat to go on land and water, and has the added bonus that if you ride over an alligator (as in the picture above), it will just get pushed below the water, uninjured.

The driver sits high up top to keep a lookout for the gators…

Not so we could run away from them  – so that we can get closer to them and see them live in their natural, wild habitat!

BTW, ever stood in front of an airplane engine? They give you earplugs to wear on the airboat for that reason… 2 of them power this boat – and they are L-O-U-D!

…and don’t think you can get away without wearing them!

Before we continue, we remind you that the best places to stay in Florida, is with a rental home from   Florida Kosher Villas!

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Alligator!!!

Letting the airboat drift closer…

During a lull, our ‘captain’ educating us about the benefits of Sawgrass,

and showing us the aloe fibers contained within,

and how to use them as a field-bandage in a pinch.

Our son Yitzy intently examining a freshly cut sawgrass bandage.

and then, back towards the shore we passed these interesting water lillies,

when right near the dock,

the next wild alligator was there to greet us.

Hey boys, BOYS!

Not too close now!

Thought we were done? Nope, that was just the airboat part.

Included in the admission coupon is a free visit to their wildlife exhibit…

…wwhich we’ll tell you about after this quick reminder check out Florida Kosher Villas!

(continued from above the sponsorship jump)

where we saw:

tortoises,

monster-sized behemoth gators,

bobcats,

fennec foxes,

Florida panthers,

and the highlight…

holding a LIVE alligator!

Yes, the mouth is taped shut with electrical tape…

And that’s the reason why we let everyone have a turn

right down the line

Hey, don’t forget me!!

Here you go! How many 20-month-olds have done this?

Stick to the paths on the way back to your car…

And if you only eat kosher and can’t try the “gator bite tacos” at the grill stand along the path,

You might pick a freshly grown papaya from this tree.

It’s all in a days work for the GreatFrumTrips.com family! (sigh, I love my job.)

Think we’re done? Stay tuned for the upcoming adventure of Day # 2!

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One Response

  1. Therowners February 14, 2017
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