Tuesday, 12/27/11 - We headed out with our friends Ron & Ms Dixie for an air boat ride on my favorite Florida road....Tamiami Trail on Hwy 41 West. We had been once before when we were here in Florida 2004/05 and loved it and wanted a repeat ride.
We headed out about 10 am and were going to try each of the 3 air boat places we saw when we visited Shark Valley a few weeks ago. Now when we were there at that time....each and everyone of these places were deserted....I mean no one. Well, today was another story, Christmas vacation and snowbirds have arrived. You would have thought they were giving rides away. The first place we stopped, which was the crummiest, Will did NOT like it, and I didn't like the boats, way to packed with people. So we headed for the next one, it was busier than the first one, so we headed for air boat number 3. Now this place is the nicest of the three but today was also the busiest. First we couldn't even find a place to park and then they squeezed us into some field to park. There must have been at least 6 tour buses loaded with people, BUT because it was the last air boat stand and I had a $3.00 off coupon for each of us....we decided to wait it out.
We got into line and purchased our ticket, which with the coupon was $20 and for that you got a 40 minute air boat ride, which included a talk out in the Everglades from the boat driver and when you returned they had an alligator show they put on. The best part of this particular ride was the boats were smaller and they didn't pack them, we had 16 people on our boat, which was only 4 people on a seat cross ways and allowed for lots of room to see. Our driver was excellent and he gave us a great ride even turning the boat 180 degrees. After I asked him if he ever does a 360 and he said no because they get water in the boat. But the 180 was great fun and going at that speed it felt fabulous. I was on an end seat (of course) so did get some spray but great pictures.
He then stopped the boat in one of the "hammocks" where we saw several alligators and he told us about the Everglades and the creatures that live there. The current most pressing problem is Python snakes in the Everglades. During Hurricane Andrew (in the 80's) a huge snake collector in Homestead, FL, where the hurricane hit the hardest, blew these snakes everywhere and through the years they have multiplied at an alarming rate. Also the "dumb" people that buy them when they are little, eventually bring them into the Everglades and "dump" them when they get to big to keep. He said there is a famous You Tube video that shows a 20 ft python snake that has swallowed a 7 ft alligator in the Everglades...I don't think I want to see it.
When we returned to the dock side it was apparent that everyone aboard had really enjoyed the ride and the entire experience. We were then escorted into the alligator show which was already going on. It was a trainers inside this fenced area with 4 very large alligators. We couldn't believe how this guy was able to touch, pet and even kiss these alligators. And they actually knew their names....I only remember Fat Albert and Killer. We should have gone back, after lunch, to see the beginning of the show that we missed.
We then headed for the outdoor area where Dixie & I got a picnic table and Will and Ron went and got our ice chests from the car. Yep, we even have them packing their own lunch too. It was perfect weather for being outside as there was some cloud cover (protection from the sun) a great breeze and the temp was was low 80's. It was a really fun day and after lunch we packed up the car and head for home. However, because we needed a "bathroom stop" half way home we stopped at an Indian casino for a look around.....NO gambling, we just used the bathrooms, checked out the buffet prices - $11.03 per person and left. We got home about 2:30 pm and everyone was really tired, as in, I think it's nap time. Tomorrow is Ron & Dixie's day to get their RV ready to hit the road as they leave out of here Thursday morning. We sure will miss them and sorry to see them go. Much love to all our family and friends.