Wednesday, July 19, 2017

the one with all the manatees

We had a wonderful, relaxing trip to the beach last week! It was Millie's third year going to Cocoa Beach with us, and each year gets more and more fun! 

Ever since we took our mini-vacation to Cape San Blas in April, Millie has been BEGGING to go back to the beach. Parenting pro tip: maybe don't tell your distraught daughter about your next beach trip while you are leaving from your current beach trip if there is more than about 2 days until the next one. "In July" meant NOTHING to Millie, and so it's been a lonnnng three months of telling her "not today!!" every day when she thinks we are going to the beach that day.

See the line where the sky meets the sea? It calls me...and no one knoooooows how far it gooooooes...
But finally the day came and we got back to her beloved "BIG water!" and all was well with her soul. And mine. But then...

But then.

Then it was Thursday. Thursday, July 13, to be exact. A day I shall forever remember with fondness, joy, and delight.

On Thursday we decided to go kayaking. Same place we've gone before- the Banana River, less than a mile from our condo. The river is where my love of manatees was born back in 2010, when I unexpectedly came upon them while kayaking. I've been a woman obsessed ever since. But I've never had as much success finding them again. Occasional sightings, a glimpse from afar...enough to keep fueling my passion, but not enough to quench it, right? But I get it. It's July. It's hotter than Hades. It's not "manatee season," even though it's a manatee zone. So I keep my expectations low reasonable-ish.

But on Thursday...

A manatee? There wasn't a manatee.

There were four.

Four giant, lovely, fat, happy, playful manatees. They were hanging out in a little cove, doing what manatees do. Rolling around, being adorable, and BE STILL MY HEART, curiously checking out the kayakers who happened by.

Like, they just came up to us! They KEPT coming up to us! The swam under us and rubbed their backs on the bottom of our boat! The stuck their noses up and sniffed us!!

I GOT TO PET A MANATEE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I cannot even describe this.

Over and over and over, they came up, rolled around, said hi (with their bodies. I speak the body language of the manatees, trust.).

Millie's sweet little hand got to PET A MANATEE!! She was so brave!!
Indescribable, people. Absolutely amazing. I have videos (and videos, and videos) of the whole experience and my voice is like 12 octaves higher than strictly necessary and I am gushing and nearly sobbing and like OH MY GOSH I WAS BEING SWARMED BY HAPPY, ROLY POLY MANATEES!!!

They have whiskers!! Or "beards," if you're Millie.

They showed off with cute party tricks like this!

Oh look, it's Erika tanning on the beach a manatee tanning in the water! (P.S. I touched their bellies too, don't worry. They were much smoother than their backs and didn't have all the algae/barnacles. Very interesting!)

We stayed in that cove and just watched and played for over half an hour. They never left us- they kept swimming around us and coming up. I really just cannot believe it happened. I think I'm still in shock.

This is how we felt about the whole experience.
I am just so incredibly thankful for such an amazing, unexpected opportunity. That my parents, Matt, and Millie got to experience it alongside me was even better. You better believe none of us have stopped talking about it ever since. And now that we're home, with no upcoming beach trips on the agenda, Millie asks "when we see manatees again?" and like...what am I supposed to tell her?! At least I've got a co-manatee lover in the house with me.

July 13, man. July 13. You know, on the Tuesday and Wednesday before, I'd been sick with a stomach bug and stuck in bed (so stupid on vacation!!). But on Thursday, I woke up, felt a bit better, and figured we may as well go for a paddle down the river. What a wonderful spur-of-the-moment decision THAT turned out to be!!!


  1. You had a stomach bug on vacation??? The WORST. Anyway, I had no idea when I saw these pictures and videos on Facebook that this wasn't part of a tour! GAH!!!!! That's even more amazing now that you were just out and they came to you!!! What an incredible experience.

  2. What a gorgeous experience! Good luck with managing Millie's future manatee expectation levels... : )

  3. That's the coolest experience ever! How fun you all got to pet one, too. Yay!!!

  4. Your enthusiasm for manatees reminds me of Kristen Bell's for sloths (have you ever seen the Ellen episode where her husband surprised her by bringing one to their house? it's amazing). I'm glad this trip helped make your manatee dreams come true - and that the stomach virus went away in time for it to happen!

  5. Finally becoming a mom and then getting to pet manatees- is there anything else left on your life to do list?!?!

  6. And here's where I get Barbara Manatee stuck in my head for 8 days.

  7. YOU GOT TO PET A MANATEE??? Amazing - I am so jealous!! I have never seen one live (you know, because I live in the great white north where we only have Moose, Elk and Bears...oh, and Beavers)...but now I need to take a vacation to where I can because I NEED this kind of plump, hairy (actually, now that I think about it they're kind of like PCOSers, aren't they? Maybe I should have been a Manatee) in my life. Love this! What an experience for Millie!

    1. (I'm sorry- the email address I found on your blog got bounced back to me, so maybe you'll see the comment here?!) HAHAHAHA!!! OMG. That's an amazing comparison. The manatee can totally be your mascot/spirit animal. :) And now you DEFINITELY need to go to Florida to commune with them in real life!!!!

  8. Love the manatee sighting! So amazing!! Jealous!

  9. SO much fabulous in this post!!!!!

  10. I CAN NOT believe how close the manatees came to your kayak and beach days with your hubs and daughter. :)

  11. I feel the need to show you this...

    I feel like Millie (or YOU) needs this in her room!

    1. AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH that is the greatest thing I've ever seeeeennnnn!!!! THANK YOU for sharing!!!!


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