Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Exploring the Everglades-South

Monday 1/2/12 - Because it is suppose to turn cold this week we decided to go back to the Everglades...only this time South. Actually, this is the largest part of the Everglades and has the boardwalks that you can walk out and observe the birds and animals at various locations.

We headed South on Krome Ave/997 through the cities of Homestead and Florida City and found the Everglades highway 9336. Now I was told (warned) that on our way to the Everglades we would run into Robert is Here stand. This is a very, large fruit stand that has been around since the early sixties. Besides fruit, they have jellies and jams and milkshakes.....every flavor you can imagine and some you can't....like chocolate key lime and the list goes on. However, Will and I decided to spilt the specialty of the house.....strawberry, which was delicious. I could have gone for one of the more exotic flavors but we split and other than vanilla for Will....strawberry is it.

Ok, we got back on the road and headed in to the Everglades, which of course is a National Park and we can use our Golden Age Pass to get in free. From the Visitors Center the last place we want to visit is 38 miles. However, our first stop is Royal Palm, which has the Anhinga Trail, a 1/2 mile loop trail where we saw many different types of birds, alligators (of course) turtles and so many huge vulchers we couldn't believe it. As a matter of fact, when we pulled into the parking lot at the very end of the lot was a red car with 3 vulchers on the hood and 3 on the engine hood....it was truly a camera moment. I would have loved to have seen the owners face of that car if he would have walked up at that moment.

After parking we headed out on the boardwalk trail that runs next to a water canal and through several very large bodies of water. The amount of wildlife out there was amazing. A beautiful day, temp around 78 degrees, lots of people as Monday was a holiday but plenty of room for everyone. After about an hour we got back into the car and headed for the final stop of Flamingo Visitors Center which is where the the Florida Bay (fresh water) mixes with the Atlantic Ocean (saltwater) which is called brackish water.

However, before we arrived at Flamingo we passed many stopping places along the road....our favorite was Mrazek Pond. We saw several cars pulled off to the side and camera clicking as we drove by I couldn't believe the wildlife I quickly saw at that one small pond. I told Will he HAD to turn around and go back, which he did and we parked and went down there. It was something to see, we saw a Wood Stork, several flamingos, a spoonbill (that is pink & looks like a flamingo) and many, many different kinds of birds. We said it was almost like being at a zoo there were so much wildlife. Back in the car, we headed again for Flamingo as we were hopeful to take a boat ride out into the Bay. So funny, as we were driving along they would have elevations signs of.....3 or even 4 feet. REALLY....

Finally we arrived at Flamingo and found out the Bay boat went out at 2:30 pm so we had plenty of time to pull out out our 2 chairs, Mimi's TV tray and have our lunch, overlooking this beautiful place. After lunch we walked through the Visitors Center, went down to the Marina where you buy the tickets for the boat ride and then walked around the Marina area. There were several Osprey birds nest we observed, one however was right at the Marina, a huge nest and the male Osprey was sitting on a pole just looking around. One of the fellows told us that the Osprey mates for life and this one is waiting for a girlfriend to find him. They say his luck hasn't been to good as there a to many people around this place and the girls just don't stay. While we were waiting to board our boat, the Pelican, there were several Manatees in the dock area but you can only catch a glance of their nose as they come up for air.

We boarded the pontoon boat along with about 20 other people and headed out into the bay. Unfortunately, there was not a lot of wildlife to see out there....oh we did spot a 6 ft crocodile laying on the shore, but would have loved to see him close up. We saw lots of Osprey even diving for their fish. The captain said the Osprey are the only birds that do not steal others food and fish for only what they will eat. They clean their fish away from the nest and return with meat to share with their mate/family. It was a lovely but pretty boring boat ride compared to some we have taken. The best part was we met a husband and wife and son (?) no name introductions, that I remember...who are in Miami for the Orange Bowl Wednesday night, supporting their team - Clemson, from South Carolina. They hope to retire in a couple of years and want very much to buy an RV and do what we are doing....seeing the country. They had lots of questions and it was fun sharing our travels. Good luck and GO CLEMSON.

Tuesday - 1/3/12 - Boy were they right ...... it is cold today. It was 54 degrees in the RV when Will woke up this morning and I don't think it got past 60 all day. Of course the worse thing was the WIND, it blew all day and makes it feel much colder. But the sun was out however we did have to wear our sweatpants....NO SHORTS today. They say the cold weather will last thru Wednesday and should be back in the low 80's by the weekend. Now that's what I want to hear. Much love to all our family and friends.

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