Everglades National Park
Feb 14-21, 2013
We left Hobe Sound for the 3.5 hour trip to Flamingo Campground in the Everglades National Park. It was not a great travel day so we had packed a big bag of patience. We had blinding rain, traffic, and an accident on the Florida Turnpike before we hit sunny skies and smooth sailing! In Florida City, we stopped at “Robert is Here”, a local produce stand with every imaginable type of fruit and vegetable including some we had never heard of before! We picked up some produce, skipped their infamous milkshakes and got back on the road. We were anxious to get to our destination. We got to the front gate of Everglades National Park and drove another 38 miles until we got to Flamingo Campground! It is a long, long drive!!
We were lucky enough to snag a site next to Gin and Syl and Bill and Nancy. Yep - we were going to explore the Everglades together! Between hiking, biking, canoeing, and attending educational programs given by different park rangers, we were going to have a busy week!
Everglades National Park is the first national park especially designated for it's ecosystem. It's over 1.5 million acres and is the 3rd largest National Park in the lower 48 states. It has been named an International Biosphere Reserve, World Heritage Site, and a Wetland of International Importance. There are only two other locations in the world that are on all three lists!
Eco Pond is very close to our campground. Our first morning here, Dan and I pedaled over to the pond to see what we could see.
|Glorious morning glories|
And beautiful birds.....
We met up with Gin and Syl and pedaled around the marina.
|Check out those nails!|
|and those teeth!!|
Over the course of the next few days, we explored more of the Everglades. Some by foot, some by car and some by bike!
|White Pelicans eating breakfast|
|Check out that eye!|
|HUGE Mahagony tree|
We had also made plans to ride (in vehicles!) over to Shark Valley and ride the bike trail. We set out around 10am and planned on making it to Shark Valley in time to eat a picnic lunch. However, we ended up taking the not-so-direct scenic route and ended up eating lunch in the car! ;-) It was all good, though!
The bike ride was amazing! The weather was perfect!
|The gators are so close to the bike path but they don't budge!|
|Hmmmm..this would be close enough for me!|
|Syl checking a gator out|
|View from the tower|
|What could they be looking at?|
|Alligator pile (look closely!)|
One of the ranger programs that I really wanted to do was the Nine Mile Pond Canoe Trail. Bill, Nancy, Syl and I got up early one morning and headed out. Now - why did I want to subject myself to paddling with gators once again? Because I love to be on the water and don’t want my fears to prevent me from missing out on something neat! :-)
|Syl and Nancy|
|Nancy and Bill|
|Mangroves in the background|
|Taking pictures behind me! Syl, Nancy and Bill|
We paddled a bit more and even got a chance to see the crocodile that the rangers call “Croczilla"
You can’t tell by the pictures but this guy is HUGE. I think that Ranger G said something like 14-16 feet long. His girth is huge and Ranger G says that Croczilla eats small alligators! I did back paddle some when we were in the open water and getting too close to the alligators and crocodiles for my comfort! Syl was an amazing canoe partner and I’m glad that she was so patient with me. Thanks friend!
On one of our last days together in the Everglades, Gin and Syl hosted an ice cream bar night! It was sooooooooo good. There were four different types of ice cream, miniature strawberry cupcakes, brownie squares, white cake, butterscotch sauce, chocolate sauce, pineapple topping, strawberry topping, chopped walnuts, walnuts in syrup, pecans in syrup, sprinkles, maraschino cherries, chocolate chips, peanut butter chips, butterscotch chips, heath bar pieces, crushed oreos, sliced bananas, and whipped cream. (Hope I got everything listed!!)
|Our hostesses with the mostestess!|
|Gin making sure that we have everything!|
|Don't ever dare Gin!|
|So much fun!!|
|Bill was first in line...|
|And another happy camper!|
Our week ended all too quickly and we bid “see you down the road” to our friends. We know that we will see them soon!
Now we are back in Cedar Key until the end of April. We’ve spent the past few days getting set back up and catching up with friends. It’s going to be a busy couple of months filled with RV projects, craft projects, bike rides, boating and who knows what else we can get into!!
Life is good.