When we first got our jobs as environmental educators in the Everglades, they told us that we would have to take mandatory leave without pay during the two weeks of Christmas and New Year's vacations. School is out of session, and the Park does not pay for us to work this time. We could request employment from other sections of the park, but it's not guaranteed. So the past two years, we have just decided to make these two weeks our vacation time. Kate's mom, Sigrid flew down from Washington to join us, and thus began our adventures. Warning: lots of pictures are to follow!
One of the first things we did was buy another boat. We go out kayaking a lot in the little red vessel we bought last year. But it's hard to take friends and visitors, and it does not travel with us well across the country because of its size. So we looked into inflatables and got us a Saturn canoe/kayak, a fitting brand name for us astronomers. We immediately took her on her maiden voyage when Kate's mom arrived. Kate orbited us on the Saturn.
Next, we took off for a couple days of loafing around Key West before Christmas. Tropical christmas decorations hung from our hotel's balcony.
On our last free day together before work began again, our snorkel trip was cancelled due to high winds, so we went on a local jaunt through the Everglades instead. I'll spare you the thousands of pictures of alligators that one takes on the world-famous Anhinga trail, and just share a couple highlights. No one can resist either touching or at least mocking the cormorants that enjoy taunting the tourists on the railings along the trail.