Push Away the Screen: #TampaTrio does Busch Gardens

I love Busch Gardens. No secret there. My family visits often.

We love roller coasters, and I have been anxiously awaiting the day when ALL my children would reach the magic number.

What number is that?

54 inches.

The roller coasters at Busch Gardens are legendary!

From their website:

"We have 5 top rated coasters to get your adrenaline pumping including our newest triple launch coaster Cheetah Hunt, our ferocious, floorless dive coaster SheiKra, the seven intense inversions on Montu, the full 3 seconds of absolute weightlessness during the dive loop of Kumba and the classic twists and hills of our wooden coaster Gwazi."


You need to be 48" to ride Cheetah Hunt and Gwazi, while SheiKra, Montu, and Kumba require you to be 54 inches.

And my oldest daughter, my sweet Haley ADAMANTLY refused to ride any of the larger coasters until her brother and sister could ride along. She wanted to experience the ride WITH them, not without them. Such a sweet sister.

The day arrived in mid-July (right after their 8th and 9th birthdays) where Ronin and Ella both measured at 55 inches, I guess that pinch to grow an inch worked!!

First up....KUMBA!!

We were one of the first people in the park, and one of the only people on Kumba, so they let us ride it multiple times. It was awesome!!

Next up....MONTU!!

Montu is my favorite coaster at the park. LOVE it!! Montu has seven intense inversions, a twisting drop, a 60-foot vertical loop, an Immelman loop and a zero-G roll. AWESOME!!

Next up....CHEETAH HUNT.

I actually sat this one out. I've been on this coaster a lot and there was a boy with us who had never been on it, so I let him use my fast pass. He loved the coaster!! It really is a great ride!

Cheetah Hunt is over 4,400 feet in length!! It's awesome.

They also did SheiKra, and again I let Ronin's friend use my fast pass. Ronin and his buddy went on SheiKra 3 times in a row.

I could barely keep up with all they wanted to do.

In all, this was our day:

Montu-3 times

Kumba-3 times

Cheetah Hunt-2 times

SheiKra-3 times

The Phoenix-1 time

Congo River Rapids-2 times

Log Flume-4 times

Scorpion-1 time

Sky Ride-3 times

Sand Serpent-3 times

Merry-Go-Round-2 times

But what they really wanted to go on wasn't open yet!

Falcons Fury is open now, so we'll have to schedule a trip back soon!!

All in all I'd say it was a super successful day riding all the coasters, and I honestly can't believe that the #TampaTrio is now all tall enough to experience all the fun that Busch Gardens Tampa Bay has to offer!

Healthy Active Lifestyle with #NutriencePets

Hi! I'm Matthew, also known as the #BigYellowDog. This is the first blog post I've ever written for my human mom, Jenny.

I was just so excited by my new Nutrience dog food that I wanted to be the one to tell you all about it!

Nutrience believes in healthy active lifestyles for human and pets. And let me tell you, my family lives an active lifestyle, and I'm always tagging along. See, I have a very important job as an Autism Service Dog, so I get to do a lot of fun things!

From swimming in springs (see me in my special vest? I'm so handsome.)

to playing in water slides

to playing fetch with my favorite boy

and of course, carrying around a big stick (you know what they say....bark softly and carry a big stick Wink)

I am always on the go.

Nutrience pet food helps keep me in tip-top shape.

Nutrience pet food is made with North American ingredients and backed by their ‘No Bad Anything’ promise. Every bag they craft represents an unwavering attention to quality and an ongoing commitment to natural, wholesome nutrition.

Just what this Big Yellow Dog deserves.

Since my family is super active, and my mom hates to shop, she orders my Nutrience food directly from Amazon.

It's set up to subscribe and save so I'll never run out, and this enables us to keep playing instead of wasting time in the store! My mom is so smart! Smile

You can learn more about Nutrience on their webpage and connect with them through social media on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.


So tell me fellow dogs with a blog, what's your favorite way to get active??

Dolphin Tale 2: Winter Has Hope

Disclosure: My family participated in the Dolphin Tale 2 event through a partnership with Tampa Bay Bloggers and Grace Hill Media. All opinions shared are my own.


I grew up in Venice, FL and spent many summers at Mote Marine Laboratory enrolled in their summer camp programs.

For my undergrad I went to Eckerd College in St. Petersburg, Florida where I majored in Marine Biology and Environmental Studies.

I've done internships at Mote Marine, The Pier Aquarium, and conducted field work in Isla Holbox Mexico, and Drake Bay, Costa Rica. In fact, I was part of the original team that helped to create the marine science curriculum that Mote Marine is still using today!

For nearly 20 years I've been a part of the Marine Stranding Team at Mote Marine. To say I know a thing or two about oceans and the amazing creatures that inhabit it would be an understatement.

Visiting beaches and aquariums is sort of "a thing" that the kids and I do. In fact, I have several aquariums on my bucket list.

In March 2011, the Tampa Trio and I visited the Clearwater Marine Aquarium for the first time together as a family. I had been many times in my "before kids" life, but the kids really wanted to visit when they heard of Winter's Story.

Photo taken March, 2011

Winter is an Atlantic Bottlenose Dolphin that was rescued in December 2005 by Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute another facility that I did an intensive week long study with in 2000. HBOI transferred Winter to CMA where she (eventually) lost her fluke because it was entangled with a rope attached to a crab trap. The rope cut off the supply of blood to her tail. Poor Winter. Frown

But what makes Winter's story unique is that she was eventually fitted with a prosthetic fluke. This is the first known case in the world of a dolphin using a prosthetic.

Dolphins are very social animals. When Winter lost her tank mate "Panama" in September 2013 she became withdrawn and depressed.

Enter Hope.

Hope is also an Atlantic Bottlenose Dolphin. Stranded near the same beach where Winter was found. Rescued by the same team that rescued Winter.

And my family had the opportunity to see Hope when she was only a few months old and going through rehab at CMA. This is BEFORE Panama had died. In fact, CMA hadn't even named her "Hope" yet. She was still a nursling and about 5-6 months old. Such a sweet baby.

Photo taken March 2011

Fast forward 3 years and 2 movies later.

Winter Has Hope.

Photo taken August 2014

This past weekend our family was invited to visit CMA as official Dolphin Tale 2 Ambassadors.

We met other members of the media at the Sheraton Sand Key and then went over to CMA for a meet and greet with CMA CEO David Yates, and Winter and Hope's principal trainer, Abby.

We learned all about Winter's new and improved fluke, and how she gets a new one every 3-4 months. We also were fascinated with "Winter's Gel" which is basically a sock that fits over her stump before she puts on her tail.

It's a very "stretchy" material. You can see the trio pulling on it in one direction, and the trainer pulling on it the other way!

After our meet and greet with the humans, we got to meet Winter and Hope.

They are as charming as ever.

Winter even showed off her moves! In fact, you can watch Winter and Hope 24/7 on their webcam!

We didn't have enough time to explore many of the renovations that have been done to the aquarium, but we did get a chance to stop by and see the houseboat prop that they used in both movies.

And then we headed over to a local theater to catch the Premier of Dolphin Tale 2.

It was a charming film, full of hope (no pun intended) and inspiration.

Dolphin Tale 2 picks up right where Dolphin Tale ends. In a nutshell, Winter is left alone, needs to find a companion, enter Hope.

You can see the trailer here.

The story is fascinating, the cast is charming, though the scene stealer (for me) was not the dolphins. It was Rufus, the mischievous white African pelican.

Dolphin Tale 2 opens at a theater near you on September 12th. You won't want to miss it!