I'll be reading along. I plan to ride with the wife from Houston to Tampa after Christmas, so may be taking some of the same roads.
Be careful of your manatee plan:
[Florida] makes it illegal to "annoy, molest, harass or disturb" the endangered aquatic mammals, whose survival is imperiled by manmade threats, including boating collisions. Violations are considered a second-degree misdemeanor.
But best of luck and enjoy the trip.