Friday, March 25, 2011

Grass, Gators, Great Blue Herons and Gas explosions

March 25, 2011
Florida City to Everglades National Park, Long Pine Key campground

Staying at the International hostel in Florida City last night was a good idea. Yesterday felt extremely hot, and we were sticky with sweat. The hostel had a great outdoor shower that was very relaxing and allowed us to wash off all the sweat and sunscreen. Just as a note: when you are sweating buckets, literally, reapplying sunscreen seems to be more important than in the west where sweat tends to dry pretty instantly.

After an ok nights sleep (US highway 1 next to the hostel is busy and loud) we woke up to a free pancake breakfast at the hostel. Our gear was wet because the dew was so heavy last night, the condensation created a mini rainstorm from the tree canopy. We packed up some of our gear while wet, and headed off to Everglades National Park.

Shortly outside of Florida City, we came across a fruit stand called Robert is Here. We had heard about it from a few locals and decided to stop in. Like all fruit stands, not all of the produce was local, but to our surprise, a good part of it was. We bought some fresh tomatoes and peppers, a mango, the biggest avocado ever, and a grapefruit. We also had a key lime milkshake, which was made right before our eyes with real key limes. It was delicious. We ate it while checking out the animal farm at the fruit stand. I never turn down a milkshake, especially when I am ten degrees further south than my body ever intended me to be.

We were both excited to go to Everglades, not just because we are NPS geeks, but because, the Everglades is really the only place like it on earth, and we might see a gator! The ride into the park is what I will now call typical southern Florida. The traffic wasn't bad, but the drivers are all in a hurry and pass each other with no regard to oncoming traffic. The road is flat as a pancake, but has no shoulders at all. What is up with no shoulders in a place where it would be impossibly easy to have them?

Once in the park, we stopped at the visitor's center and decided what programs we could check out while we were there, and checked out a great movie called River of Life. Come to find out, the Everglades is not a swamp at all. Swamps have stagnated water, but the water in the glades flows like a very slow river. We continued on to the campground, set up camp, then rode to the Royal Palm area to see a ranger talk called gator spy. Sure as peach pie will put a smile on my face, we saw a gator. The talk was great, but the wildlife was even better. I will let the pictures speak for themselves. We couldn't pull ourselves away from looking at all of the birds and gators. This park is truly amazing.

Now, as the sun is going down here at the campground, the air is cooling off, and it feels great. No need for even a jacket. Now I see why people come to Florida during the winter.


Also, our stove burst into a ball flames tonight and melted the pump. It seems like it will still work, but for a few seconds we thought we might have a bomb on our hands. Good to know that even on an easy day, adventure finds us.

Dani really enjoying the Key Lime Shake

Emu at Robert is Here

Florida Panther crossing

Our First gator!

Baby Gator


Little Blue Heron

Great Blue Heron

Green Heron

Purple Galinule

Look at all of those gators

Young GBH

GBH and an Anhinga staring at each other

Glossy Ibis

GBH eyes

Anhinga that caught a bluegill

Anhiunga's can swim, and do so often. They don't float, so they can dive at will and chase fish under water

Because they dive a lot, you will see them drying off everywhere

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Gator with a tri-colored heron behind him

Dani riding in the park

Our campsite

Huge avocado!

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