Saturday, March 8, 2014

The Everglades

Today was devoted to the Everglades. So I might as well show the required picture of an alligator right away and get it over with.

After breakfast in the Cracker Barrel we headed to the place we thought we were going to stay last night but found the gate locked. When we got there today the gate was open. We went in and found out that they lock the gates at 7:00 (people who are checked in get a code for the gate). We went in and sat at the launch area for a while hoping to see some manatees, but no luck.

Then Jean realized she had left her jacket at the restaurant. She called them and they had it at the front desk, so we headed back to get it. But first we stopped to take some pictures of the last remaining walking dredge (a National Historic Mechanical Engineering Site). These machines were used to cut the Tamiami Trail through the Everglades. They can walk forward through the swamp.

After picking up the jacket, we headed back into the 'glades. Our destination this time was a 24-mile loop road that we read about in an online RV blog. But first we spent an hour or so walking a boardwalk that went back into the forest. Lots of informational plaques. It was an interesting walk but we hadn't expected to take in so we had neither camera or binoculars with us. There wasn't that much to photograph anyway --- the boardwalk has a bit of traffic.

After stopping at a visitor center, we finally found the loop road. It is a narrow (but two-way) gravel road. Right at the beginning there were a lot of cars parked along both sides of the road, reducing it to one lane. We had to wait for several cars and pickups coming out. We asked someone what was happening and we were told it was  a pig-pickin' and a country dance. After we got past that things got quieter. It was quite rough until we crossed the Big Cypress Natural Preserve border, where the road got smoother (but still gravel).

Much of the road goes through a classic cypress swamp, with lots of trees growing out of the water. We spotted several large wading birds, as well as views of the swamp itself.

Yes, Waldo the Gator is in here, too.

 We have seen a lot of interesting birds without getting out of the motorhome. One we hadn't seen before was a swallow-tailed kite --- impressive (sorry, no pictue).

We spent a lot of time in the 'glades, so that when we got back to civilization we were shocked and disgusted at the press of cars and people. We were trying to find some indicated campgrounds while negotiating crowded six-lane (each way) highways. We finally found one in Hollywood that was an RV and mobile home park. By now it was well after dark and we wound around on narrow roads among close-packed trailers to try and find the office. When we found it, it was closed and dark of course. A couple in a pickup asked if we needed some space, and hearing that we were, they went off to look for one. While they were gone, a man on a bicycle also inquired if we needed space, and mentioned three that he knew were vacant. Most friendly folk. The couple with the pickup came back and guided us to a space and here we sit, hooked up and enjoying more quiet than we had expected.

One never knows when you start out in the morning what adventures await you throughout the day.

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