So we left Key West after a relaxing few days for the drive to Miami…. We stopped at IHOP in the Keys for some breakfast before starting the drive up US1 through the Keys. The view along the drive was so much better than the drive down….sunlight helps with that! We made pretty good time and hit Miami by about 2pm so headed to Miami and South Beach. When we finally found parking, we went for some food and cocktails (you should have seen the size of these cocktails!! ENORMOUS!) and for a walk along the beach. It was pretty empty as it was windy and the water conditions were really rough. We did a little bit of shopping on the way back to the car and then to the hotel for a slack evening.
Next morning we headed for Tampa, driving across the top of the Everglades, through Alligator Alley. It is hibernation season so we didn't see any alligator's but it was a really nice drive (and getting to do 75mph along the highway meant we got there a little bit quicker!). Emma, Brianna and I went to see Tampa Bay Lightning vs Boston Bruins in the ice hockey. It was a great game, although not really enough fights, but unfortunately the Lightning lost with 20 seconds to go so we went home losers for our second American sporting experience.
We had an early morning to be at Busch Gardens - finally somewhere with some decent roller coasters! Busch Gardens is a zoo with some huge rollercoasters. The first one we rode is one of the biggest wooden roller coasters in the USA. Whilst it was quite a good roller coaster, the wooden tracks meant my brain felt like mush by the time it was finished! Next we rode SkeiKra - you go up over 200ft and then straight down at 90o to the floor (after they hold you for 4 seconds staring at the floor!). Emma and I managed to get front row without queuing the extra time for it and yes, I did scream as we headed straight for the floor! The last one we rode has apparently been rated in the top 10 roller coasters in USA for a number of years and I get why. It has 7 inversions and is one of the longest coasters I have ridden.
Busch Gardens also had loads of animals. We did a safari on a train, seeing giraffes, rhinoceros, zebras, antelopes and ostriches. They had gorillas and chimpanzees, some very active hippopotamus' and a huge Nile crocodile that was trying to catch the birds that flew into its enclosure. We also saw a cirque show and 'Critter Castaways', which is a show with animals that have been rescued or adopted from shelters. There were dogs, cats, rats, birds, pigs - even a skunk! It was a long day and we are ready to go to New Orleans tomorrow!! Can't wait!