Vacation with My Daughters

Katey, Cheryl, and Ellen on the boardwalk at Big Cypress National Preserve Visitor Center. Selfie by Katey.

Vacation with My Daughters

Driving from Texas…

Welcome, Ellen and Katey!

Road trip tomorrow.

Robert at home in Port Charlotte, Florida. Photo by Cheryl.

Robert sends us off…

warm smiles, warm hugs, warm wishes.

I’ll call him each night.

View from the boardwalk at Big Cypress Preserve Visitor Center.

Boca Chita Lighthouse viewed from Biscayne Bay.

Katey and Ellen made friends with Big Foot in Everglades City, Florida. Photo by Cheryl.

Everglades, green shades.

Blue Biscayne National Park.

Rainbow-colored days.

Katey on Ten Thousand Islands boat tour near Everglades City. A mangrove island is in the distance. Photo by Ellen.

Alligator warming itself in the sunshine at Oasis Visitor Center, Everglades National Park.

Katey took many photos of these bottlenose dolphins as they played near our boat at Ten Thousand Islands, near Everglades City.

Marsh walks and tour boats,

alligators, anhingas,

dolphins, and egrets.

Family-owned Havana Spice Cuban Restaurant, Homestead, Florida.

Havana/Miami mural at Havana Spice Restaurant portrays the family’s emigration to the US. Photo by Katey.

Light and crispy fried plantains at the Havana Spice Restaurant. Photo by Ellen.

Chickee hut breakfasts,

stone crab claws, Cuban cafes,

Indian fry bread.

A rooster turns a tortoise into a taxi at Robert is Here.

Geese on parade at Robert is Here.

Goats at Robert is Here seem to be having a difference of opinion, or maybe they are competing for the affections of the cute goat watching them from above.

Turkeys, tortoises,

emus, chickens, geese, and goats

at “Robert is Here.”

We enjoyed the fruit we bought at Robert is Here. Ellen made this fruit platter to go with cheese omelettes Cheryl cooked for breakfast back home in Port Charlotte. Photo by Ellen.

Cheryl likes the antique tractors at Robert is Here. Photo by Katey.

Honey, candy, fruit,

antique tractors, kiddie cars

at “Robert is Here.”

Sunset at Gulf Coast Visitor Center, near Everglades City, Florida. Photo by Ellen.

Katey, Ellen, and Cheryl… wet and windblown after an exciting cruise on Biscayne Bay. Visitor center at Biscayne National Park.

Photo memories

of joyous days together.

Back home to Robert.

Katey takes a selfie at Englewood Beach.

Ellen captured this view of the surf at Englewood Beach.

Lunching with Robert

at breezy Englewood Beach.

Great day for a swim!

I wonder what antics the goats are up to back at Robert is Here. Are they remembering Katey and all the romaine lettuce she fed them? Photo by Katey.

Bye, Ellen, Katey…

warm smiles, warm hugs, warm wishes…

Safe trip! Come back soon!

The majority of these photos were taken by Ellen Maher and Katey Batavia with their i-phones. I am not sure who took some of the photos. A few photos were taken by Cheryl Batavia and kind volunteers. Thank you to Katey for emailing the photos to me.

Thank you to Ellen for driving several thousand miles on this trip.

Thank you to both of my daughters for making it possible for me to take a trip I could not have taken by myself. They were wonderful company!

Copyright © 2023 by Cheryl Batavia

South Florida Places We Enjoyed Visiting

Big Cypress National Preserve

The visitor center has a beautiful short boardwalk among the mangroves and superb indoor and outdoor exhibits about the history and ecology of the area.

Also available: backcountry hiking and camping.

Everglades National Park

We enjoyed the Ten Thousand Islands Boat Tour at Gulf Coast Visitor Center. Our guide explained the history of the area and gave information about various plants and animals we saw.

Also available are boat tours at Flamingo Visitor Center, the only place in the park to see flamingos and saltwater crocodiles. Shark Valley Visitor Center features a tram tour and an observation tower. Anhinga Trail and Gumbo Limbo Trail are at Royal Palm Visitor Center. Kayak and canoe rentals and tours are available at several locations in the park.

Biscayne National Park

Most of this park is underwater. We enjoyed a boat tour to Boca Chita Lighthouse. We spent an hour touring the lighthouse and the island, once part of the Deering Estate. Our guide gave a very interesting history of the park and talked about the environmental challenges the park is facing due to rising sea levels. We saw Turkey Neck Nuclear Power Plant in the distance and learned that the power plant is surrounded by warmer water that sustains a population of saltwater crocodiles.

Also available are snorkeling and diving tours where you can explore shipwrecks on the bottom of Biscayne Bay.

Robert Is Here, Homestead, Florida

This is a fruit stand founded by Robert in 1959 when he was six years old. Robert still works at his fruit stand, which features locally-grown vegetables and about one hundred varieties of locally-grown exotic tropical fruits, some from Robert’s own farms. Service is friendly and helpful. They made sure that we had chosen the best fruit and packed it on ice to make sure it got home safely. There is also a huge assortment of raw Florida honey, preserves, candy, and baked goods.

You can enjoy a lunch of tropical fruit smoothies and pulled pork barbecue while you are here. The fresh coconut water is awesome!

On the premises is a large animal enclosure where you can feed giant tortoises, Brahma calves, emus, chickens, geese, turkeys, and goats. Ellen had the emu eating pellets out of her hand. This is the most beautiful animal enclosure of its kind that I have ever seen! There is also an aviary with tropical birds and parrots who like to converse with visitors. Scattered throughout the grounds is Robert’s collection of antique tractors. Tricycles and kiddie cars are provided for young visitors to ride.

Miccosukee Indian Village

Outdoor exhibits are located in several chickee huts and demonstrate traditional Miccosukee life. There is an alligator show and an observation platform overlooking the marsh. There are picnic areas and a small indoor museum of Miccosukeee history. The gift shop displays hand-crafted traditional clothing and jewelry, books, and other souvenirs.

Across the road, you can take an airboat tour of the “River of Grass.” I have taken many classes to visit the village and to take an airboat tour. The guides were always knowledgeable and informative. Here, as in the national parks we visited, you will learn about preserving the natural environment.

Indian villages are scattered throughout Everglades National Park along US 41. There are multiple airboat operators and some small restaurants featuring traditional Miccosukee cuisine. Alligator and Indian fry bread are likely to be included on the menus.

Miami/Miami Beach

The beach is still lovely, but crowded and noisy. I did not enjoy the loud music, pervasive Jamaican cigar and marijuana smoke, constant racket of small planes flying up and down the beach advertising parties at local night clubs, and incessant chatter of other beachgoers. If you go to Miami Beach, you will see a lot of Brazilian bikinis and maybe some bare bosoms. Be prepared for horrendous traffic and very steep prices. We paid $20 for two hours of valet parking, $20 to rent an umbrella, and $20 to rent a chaise lounge. A large bottle of Pelligrino sparkling water was $9.

If you have a big budget and lots of time to spend, there are many great attractions in the surrounding area. I have listed a few that I enjoyed in the seven years I lived in Miami Beach and at various times in the twenty years since then:

Bayside in Miami, Miami Beach historic art deco district, Lincoln Road Mall in Miami Beach, Miami Beach Convention Center, Miami Jungle Gardens, Fairchild Tropical Gardens, Viscaya mansion and grounds, a gorgeous world-class concert hall and opera house in Miami, Miami Beach Ballet Company, Miami Beach Symphony, Miami Metro Zoo, Miami Seaquarium, and boat tours featuring celebrity homes on the islands. Miami holds an annual book fair which I attended five years ago.

There are glitzy, huge new cruise terminals. If you are a sports fan, you might enjoy Marlins baseball or Miami Dolphins football. If you like to wager, consider nearby jailai or horse racing.

This list just scratches the surface of things to discover in Miami/Miami Beach.

South Florida Restaurants We Love

Triad Seafood Market and Waterfront Cafe, Everglades City, Florida

We ate outside overlooking a lovely water view. Ellen and I split an order of very fresh stone crab claws with mustard sauce. Our hush puppies and sweet potato fries were great! We enjoyed a delicious salad composed of spring mix, walnuts, dried cranberries, red onions, tomatoes, and blue cheese dressing. Katey, not a fan of seafood, ordered a cheeseburger and salad, which she said were very good.

Roasters ‘N Toasters New York Deli, Miami Beach, Florida

Ernie and Richie’s was our neighborhood Jewish deli when we lived in Miami Beach twenty years ago. Roasters ‘N Toasters replaced it and maintains a similar vibe and menu. Katey and I split a delicious Reuben on rye sandwich. My Caesar salad came with a homemade garlic dressing. Ellen’s chopped liver sandwich was intensely flavored and good. The carrot cake with cream cheese icing that we shared had many thin layers and was suitably decadent. The flakey rugelach cookies were made with dark chocolate and flavored with cinnamon. Katey and Ellen liked the matzo ball soup. We all loved the well-prepared latkes with sour cream and apple sauce.

Havana Spice Restaurant, Homestead, Florida

This is a really wonderful Cuban family restaurant with fun, funky decor. We ate there twice. Ellen and Katey enjoyed Cuban coffee and expresso. I ordered my favorite, lechon asado (Cuban roast pork.) It is marinated with mojo (bitter orange) sauce and slow-cooked with onions. I also liked their maduros (fried ripe plantains.)

The second time we ate there, Ellen and I shared a big plate of sliced fried plantains that were unbelievably light and crispy. I tried guava cheesecake, which was very sweet. I wished I had gotten my favorite, flan (baked egg custard.) It looked great in the dessert case!

*Having gained several pounds on our vacation, I have returned to my usual low-carb diet.


  1. Goodness, Cheryl, what a wonderful vacation! All the excursions, animals to see and pet, and food from the haven! You are a very lucky girl to have such loving daughters. And you are right, there is nothing better than a family-run business.


    Liked by 3 people


    1. Thank you for your lovely comment, Joanna! I hadn’t seen my daughters for over a year. We enjoyed spending time together and had a lot of fun!

      The Cuban family started their restaurant many years ago. It is a favorite of locals and tourists alike. Robert, owner of Robert is Here, is a native of Homestead, Florida. In an era of chain stores and restaurants, it is a pleasure to see family-run businesses flourishing.



    1. Thank you so much, Veena, for your kind words. So glad you enjoyed the photos. ❤ I wish Robert could travel, but his allergies keep him close to home. We are always happy when family members can visit, and Robert is happy for me to take a trip and spend time with my daughters. Wishing you many happy travels! ❤



  2. It was a lovely trip for you, Cheryl and your daughters, as evident from your description and amazing pics of almost everything. You people have enjoyed the vacation to the hilt. I’m happy to see happy faces.❤️❤️❤️

    Liked by 2 people


    1. Thank you so much, KK! Your kind words mean a lot to me. ❤ ❤ ❤ So glad you like the photos. Both of my daughters seem to be pretty good photographers. It was a very fun vacation, but the best thing was spending time together! 🙂 Wishing you all the best!

      Liked by 1 person


  3. Fab photos and great documentation of your travels together …you all look super happy! Those animal pics are so cute and I’m guessing that Robert’s smile was much broader when you returned home 🙂

    Liked by 2 people


    1. Thank you for your kind response, Kate! ❤ Robert and I both smiled to see each other again.

      Robert smiles and jokes around a lot, but when you try to take his picture, he gets a solemn expression! I guess I'll just have to follow him around with a camera and catch him when he smiles! 🙂 Glad you like the pics. Both of my daughters seem to be talented photographers.

      Children and adults alike enjoy feeding the animals at Robert is Here. Katey bought several big, beautiful heads of romaine lettuce for $5 each. Robert let her have the last one for $3! She was sharing her lettuce with little kids and encouraging them to feed the animals.

      Ellen was feeding an emu food pellets from the palm of her hand. I think I would be a little scared to do that!

      Have a wonderful day! ❤

      Liked by 1 person


      1. sounds absolutely delightful, emu’s have a very hard peck but as it’s a tame one I’m guessing it has better manners 🙂

        Like you they both have good hearts 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Eugi, for your kind response. ❤ It's a great time of year to visit Florida. Maybe you could make a trip before the heat, rain, and mosquitos arrive.

      Though I have enjoyed living in Florida since 1995, I am often nostalgic for the mountains and the beautiful Shenandoah Valley. Even though my hiking days are over, maybe I should consider one last visit. My Texas daughters may be missing the mountains too. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person


      1. I love the mountains, Cheryl. Florida is a beautiful state and I lived there for most of my life. It’s a matter of preference and timing in one’s life and where we are the happiest. I’m happy that you were able to spend memorable time with your daughters.💖

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Jay, for your lovely response. ❤ It means so much to me that you enjoyed the post. Nature, family, and the simple pleasures of life are a winning combination! I am grateful to my daughters for making the trip possible. I enjoyed their company so much, and I, too, love the photos they took.

      Wishing you all the best, Jay…health, happiness, and success! ❤

      Liked by 1 person


  4. WOW! What wonderful pictures, Cheryl. 💗It sounds like you had an amazing vacation with your daughters! The Everglades and Biscayne National Park both sound like beautiful and interesting places to visit, and it’s great that you were able to learn about the history and ecology of the areas. Robert’s Fruit Stand also sounds like a fun place to stop, with a wide variety of fruits and animals to see. 🙌

    Liked by 2 people


  5. JoAnna, thank you for your kind response. ❤ I think you would really enjoy the trip to Everglades and Biscayne National Parks, Robert is Here, and the Miccosukee Indian Village. Summer there is hot, rainy, and buggy, but the weather is lovely from October through May.

    Some visitor centers in the parks are still recovering from hurricane damage, but most places affected have temporary accommodations. Call to check the Miccosukee Indian Village schedule ahead of time. They may not be open every day.

    Tram and boat tours require reservations, which we made online.

    I bought a yearly senior national park pass for $20 at Big Cypress Preserve Visitor Center, good for everyone in the car. You can also purchase it online.

    Liked by 1 person


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