12/31/09 Happy New Year, Blog readers! Sure hope you all have a nice celebration this evening, and a wonderful year in 2010.
We have now left the Everglades National Park and are situated at the Miccosukee Indian Casino on the outskirts of Miami. Not only is this good for free parking, but it is located fairly near the storage yard where we will leave our rig when we go on our upcoming cruises. Tomorrow we will pack and the next day we are off again on the Majesty of the Seas. Probably there will be some events happening here this evening, including fireworks, so we are positioned to take part in whatever happens.
Everglades National Park was quite a pleasant place to be over the Christmas holidays, as the campground was nearly deserted. Here is a picture of our rig in our campsite in the Long Pine Key Campground, which is the one which is closest to the entrance and the Coe Visitor Center.
It was nice to be in that campground because there was no Verizon signal in the campground, but was a short drive to the Visitor Center where we could use the phone and our air card to access the internet. The added benefit was that there were fewer mosquitoes there than in the other campground down by Florida Bay, called Flamingo.
The reason there were so many mosquitoes at this time is because just the week before we went there, the area had a huge amount of rain in a very short time, even causing some flooding in Miami. Usually by this time of the year it is the dry season and mosquitoes are not a problem. Must be another ramification of global warming!!! Because of our Golden Age Pass, the cost was only $8 per night, and there was a nice hiking trail right by the campground. The visitor’s center had some interesting movies about the park which helped educate us about the environment and also helped us decide which activities to sign up for.
The first day we drove down to the Flamingo area which is 38 miles from the entrance. On the way we passed the following sign, which gives you an idea of what the topography of this area is like:
The Everglades is the only area in the world where alligators and crocodiles coexist. Down by the Flamingo marina, we saw this alligator, which was out on the bank sunning herself:
Later in the week, on our canoe trip, we saw a 13 foot crocodile. Didn’t get a good picture of it, so I can’t put it here. Part of the reason for that was that we were keeping our distance! This was one of the trips that is offered free by the rangers and they even provide the canoes, life jackets, and paddles. We paddled around 9 Mile Pond, which involved a lot of narrow passages between mangrove areas, and the weather was absolutely perfect while we were out there. Quite a delightful afternoon.
The other really fun excursion we did was a bike hike with a ranger. The bikes, helmets and water were provided for free and the bikes were really good ones, which helped a lot. Part of it was in a heavily wooded area where there were lots of mosquitoes, but the rest was in a more open area where we weren’t so bothered. Here is Elaine on her bike, and me with part of our group:
Crossing the road we biked on was this crawdad:
Further along, there was a small pond with this frog in it:
In the weeds on the side of the pond we saw a cottonmouth, one of the poisonous snakes that live in this park, but it slithered further into the undergrowth and I couldn’t get a picture. There are 4 types of poisonous snakes here, and quite a few non-poisonous ones. Of course, there are LOTS of birds here which can be easily seen in all the shallow small ponds:
There are also numerous short hikes, which are often on boardwalks because they cross such wet and boggy areas. Here is Elaine on the boardwalk leading to the Mahogany Hammock hike. French trappers who used these areas in days gone by called them “hammocks” because they were used as resting places.
There was also a night walk on the Anhinga Trail, another boardwalk trail, which enabled us to see at least 15 alligators, most of which were hanging in the water. There wasn’t enough light to get any good pictures, but enough to see the alligators, gars, and Great Blue Herons that were prevalent.
Now that we are back in areas where we have good internet access, we have been trying to catch up on e-mails and also make some more travel arrangements for upcoming cruises. End of the year paperwork is also taking lots of time. Even though it sounds like we just travel all the time, normal life goes on and we have to deal with it. It makes us wonder, how did we ever handle everything before the internet???!!!!