Firstly, apologies of you don’t like nature. Today’s post is rather long with lots of pictures of my amazing day out. If you just like the food bits, you only need to read the very beginning and the very end. There is no food in between, just some water 🙂
We returned to Mangrove Mike’s today and sat at the counter which was fun.
The food was great again and we had a chat with Mike who wanders round and checks everything is good. I had a fruit salad
and then an unexpected meal. I wanted to avoid bread/wheat so thought I was ordering a Rosti with bacon, cheese and poached eggs. It turns out that Tater Tots are an American brand of potato nuggets. They were ok though and the eggs were cooked perfectly. So no sugar rush today and this breakfast I ate at 9am kept me going until supper at 8pm with nothing except water in between.
We had a wonderful day out, in the Everglades. It was FAB-U-LOUS 🙂
The Everglades was described as a “river of grass” by Marjory Stoneman Douglas who was a passionate environmentalist. The more I read about Marjory the more I admire her. She was an amazing person, particularly when you consider that in the 1940’s, environmentalism was not a well known topic in the world and it was absolutely not the norm for a woman to be banging the green drum.
She was an advocate for all matters related to the preservation of the natural world and understood the importance of preserving the water in the Everglades for all people and creatures living in Southern Florida. She was an invited guest when President Truman dedicated the Everglades in 1947.
The Everglades is not a swamp, as many people consider it to be. It is technically a river, flowing southwest at the slow rate of about a quarter of a mile per day. It is a fragile and delicate ecosystem, inhabited by some extraordinary creatures and a remarkably varied landscape, which we really saw today.
On our previous visit we spent the day in Shark Valley in the North of the National Park. Today, we drove along route 9336 to Flamingo, which took us from East to West.
Along the route of 34 miles, there are several places to stop and hike or just stand and stare and admire this extraordinary place.
The first stop was the Anhinga Trail which was a very easy boardwalk. It was absolutely fascinating and I loved it. The Visitor Center was superb and this part of the Everglades is much deeper than the rest which is actually very shallow. But here the water is deep but so clear you can see a long way down.
Looking over a boardwalk enables you to see the life in the water without, for me at least, the fear that accompanies diving.
It was like getting a glimpse in to the private world of what happens beneath the water’s surface, which we can not usually see.
The calm and clear water made it as easy to watch the fish and turtles as if they were in an aquarium.
It was quite magical and all we had to do was look over the edge of a walkway. Simples!
I felt very safe here and thoroughly enjoyed being so close to the amazing wildlife we saw here. One of the highlights was an alligator swimming under one of the bridges we were on.
Close up of it’s back. What makes one look at this and think of a hand bag?
It was fascinating to see how it swims from so close up but knowing we are not altering its life in any way. The alligator is in its natural habitat and yet we are so close. But I felt very safe.
It really was brilliant.
Another glimpse in to the secret under water world. The silhouette is of Harvey and me on the boardwalk taking the photo.
We also saw some turtles:
Red Bellied Turtle basking on a log.
Florida Soft Shelled Turtle.
Tri-Coloured Heron (these are quite unusual apparently).
Grey Heron. These are tall and rather majestic – one of my favourites.
So here’s another one 🙂
Egret with small fish
Egret with baby turtle 😦
At eye level we came across a Green Anole lizard who was gorgeous.
Air Plants (they live epiphytically on other plants i.e. they just use the other plants as somewhere to grow. They do not tap in to them to obtain nutrients or water).
We all enjoyed the boardwalks in our own ways 🙂 .
We parked under a tree covered in this beautiful Spanish Moss.
The rest of the trail was wonderful but not as special as the boardwalks of the Anhinga Trail which is one of the most fascinating places I have been to. Mainly I confess, because you could get so close to nature but feel so safe. You could also feel good about it too, or at least not guilty for damaging the area, because apart from the initial construction of the boardwalk, we were not in any way damaging the natural environment by being there.
The next place we stopped was the Pineland Trail. It is extraordinary how the landscape changes so much within just a few miles, from a wetland to a pine forest.
This alligator can not read the ‘No Swimming’ sign.
In fact, this alligator hissed at me!! Just when I was beginning to feel more comfortable around them. I wandered too close trying to take a close up photo of a dragon fly and then Harvey pointed out I was close to the babies. Ooops!
Notice how shallow the water is. Most of the Everglades is very shallow which makes it a very fragile ecosystem as it is so susceptible to changes in the water level through the seasons.
Along the road to our next hiking spot at Pa-Hay-Okee, we rescued this creature.
Is it a turtle, terrapin or tortoise? None of the above. According to our resident wild life expert it is a Cooter! I bet you knew that didn’t you ?
Please note that we would never touch any of the animals within the Everglades. This was an exception as it was walking very slowly across the road and we nearly hit it with our car. We have a tortoise at home and so are rather fond of all the Chelonians. So we stopped and picked it up to place it next to the nearest water hole.
Which happened to be just on the opposite side of the road i.e. where it was heading. What a clever Cooter 🙂
The next landscape we came to was of the Bald Cypress trees. It looks prehistoric!
Amongst the densely forested areas, there are also the open saw grass areas.
I suspect this is the landscape Marjory Stoneman Douglas described as the rivers of grass. This “river” is 8 miles wide. It was incredibly peaceful out here. Plenty of bird chatter and the occasional splash from the water but that was about it.
Eventually we made it to Flamingo, the end of the road – literally.
There was a pretty marina at Flamingo where James saw a crocodile basking on the bank. Not an alligator but an actual crocodile, so much scarier as they are more aggressive. I couldn’t bring myself to see it.
I was also being bitten by mozzies so retreated to the Visitor Center.
There was not much to do here unless you want to kayak or hike. We enjoyed the views over Florida Bay, took some photos and decided we were more or less done for the day. Boys and toys eh?
It was about 6pm and we had dinner on our minds so we headed back along the road we had come, to get back to the Keys, for dinner and bed. We stopped to photograph the mangrove swamp.
And then we spotted a Snapping Turtle by the side of the road. Sorry fella but you is ugly! We didn’t try to move this one, partly because it was already nearly off the road but mainly because they can literally bite your finger off. The large ones can take your hand off. Truly!
So pleased we didn’t see any of these today!
We had an amazing day in the Everglades and enjoyed the sunset as we headed back along Highway 1 for dinner which we had at the Tower of Pizza in Key Largo.
I started with a house salad with home made Blue Cheese dressing – yum 🙂
Followed by a Hawaiian pizza. Well, half a small one anyway. It was great.
Then Lara and I shared a slice of pecan pie. This was a lovely place to eat. It was relaxed and full of people like us who had been out for the day and were looking for a quick and easy way to fill our bellies.
So today was wonderful. I saw so many wonderful sights and felt very lucky to spend a day in such a beautiful place. Of all the amazing sights I saw, these are the 2 best ones.
I am even luckier that I got to take them home with me :-).