Saturday, February 21, 2009
We spent the day today in a place like no other, visiting Everglades National Park.
A visit to the Everglades has long been on my “bucket list” and this trip Fred and I decided to do some exploring.
We started out this morning by stopping at the Visitors center and then walked the Anhinga trail.
The Anhinga is only half a mile long, a meandering series of hard paths and board walks that lead you through saw grass and mangroves teaming with wildlife. We saw amazing birds from the scary looking Turkey Vulture to Great Blue Herons.
There were Little Green Heron lurking in the low bushes, Frigate with their lovely swooping tails flying high above, Cormorant drying their wings after a dive, Snowy Egret standing perfectly still and waiting for prey, and of course Anhinga with their beautiful white piano key markings.
Alligators were everywhere! Swimming in the water and sunning themselves on the grass. There were turtles and frogs, butterflies and orchids, air plants and dragonflies. It was an amazing introduction to the park.
We drove the “Road to Flamingo”.
Fred and I have wanted to take this route since I gave him a book for Christmas about 7 years ago of the 50 Most Scenic Drives in America.
The landscape is so flat and the grass so tall and plentiful that it looks like waves over the ocean. The sound is similar too as the breeze pushes the dry grass together. Birds float over the landscape and you can see the nests of Osprey and Heron in the tops of the bare trees. Fred saw a short little Key Deer but we think the crossing signs for panthers are like the ones for bear and moose in Vermont and new Hampshire---just a tease! I told Fred the only panther he was going to see would be wearing a hockey jersey.
Flamingo is tiny! There is a Visitors center, a Marina and a little store. Apparently there used to be a restaurant but it didn’t survive the last Hurricanes. Many people camp at this end of the park. Braver souls than I to risk close encounters with snakes and other creepy crawlies.
We rented a canoe at the Marina and went paddling for a couple of hours.
My favorite site of the day --a Manatee! It swam very close to our boat, grazing on the algae that collect on the roots of the red mangrove trees. We watched the manatee until a motored boat scared it away.
We drove back to Florida City. Tired and a little sunburned but happy with the day.
On the road out of the park we stopped at Robert is Here Fruit Stand. It is possibly the best fruit and vegetable stand I have ever shopped at. We splurged on heirloom tomatoes, strawberries, and tree ripened pink grapefruit, all of which will have to be eaten in the next couple of days.
Our guide book said that “Robert’s fruit smoothies are the best in the land”, they didn’t lie.