I used to watch CSI Miami. Anytime Horatio and the gang were in the everglades it meant someone was dead…the everglades are a scary place you know. After some eerie swamp footage Horatio would put on his sunglasses while he said some clever one liner like these. But the only things we were scared of during our visit were the mosquitoes…and maybe the vulchers.
We went to the Royal Palm visitor center to go on the ranger guided Anhinga trail walk. The park provides large blue tarps to cover your car. Why? The vulchers have developed a taste for rubber…so while you are off visiting the swamp they are munching away on your windshield wipers, door moulding and window mouldings. So we covered up the beast as best we could and headed off to meet the ranger.
Our past experiences with rangers set our expectations very high. Unfortunately, this ranger was a substitute and didn’t know much about what we were seeing. At one point we heard something in the marsh….it was like a cross between a bark and a ribbet. Everyone looked at the ranger to hear her say, “Did you hear that? That’s the mating call of the rare north African, yellow bellied snap gator!”. Instead she said, “What was that? Do you think its a frog?” We ventured away from the tour and spotted gators, turtles, anhinga, egret and some fish (not sure what kind). We wore long pants and long sleeve shirts to protect us from the mosquitoes but we all quickly overheated and changed into something cooler…the mosquitoes were not bad at all. The no-see-ums were much worse during our Carabelle and Inglis stays.
Dacen must have caught what Brielle had as he really started to drag after this stop and his head was hurting. We drove to the Flamingo visitors center and ate lunch while we were in the car. The kids got junior ranger books and worked on them while we waited for a ranger program on manatees. This ranger had worked in the park for many years and knew her stuff. She had a really nice presentation and then we went out to the marina to spot some manatee. Eagle eye Steph was the first to spot one. Unlike the crystal clear waters of the springs up at Three Sisters and Ellie Schiller the water here was opaque so you had to wait for the manatee to come up for a breath to see them. We sat by the water to catch glimpses every once in awhile and to also work on the junior ranger books.
Dacen was in bad shape….not himself at all. But he kept pushing through. The kids went and got their junior ranger badges and we started heading out of the park. We stopped at a lake to check out some spoonbills and the ranger who gave the manatee presentation was there with her scope. She let us have a looksy through the scope and told us how the abnormal wet winter had made the water too deep for these wading birds. You always here about how there is a water shortage in the everglades but I guess it’s possible to have too much as well. Its a very fragile ecosystem. And elevations of only a few inches make a big difference in what you see!
One of our stops was at a hardwood hammock. Basically a high spot (high, as in a foot higher than surrounding areas) that stays relatively dry and is home to mahogany and gumbo limbo trees. It was very jungly looking…much different than the swampy mangrove areas we had seen earlier in the day. And at another stop it was just a giant sea of saw grass.
On our way home we decided to stop at Robert Is Here for one of their famous fresh fruit milk shakes. Caden and Steph shared a key lime while Brielle and I shared a mango. Dacen was feeling super crappy and didn’t want anything. The shake was eat-it-with-a-spoon thick (no way yer gonna suck it through a straw) and CREAMY. Almost was like cold pudding. I guess they use ice milk and yogurt. It was super good and refreshing. Brielle didn’t like it so I got a LOT! There was a petting zoo there that we checked out quickly before heading home.
It was a full day and we were tired. As I lay in bed exhausted I imagined an episode of CSI Miami where they find a body dressed in a green fairy outfit in the everglades. Horatio looks the body over, stands up , and as he puts on his sunglasses he says, “Looks like Peter Pan left Neverland and ended up…in the Neverglades [cue, Won’t Get Fooled Again by The Who]”. Thats weird!
Protecting the beast from vulchers
Looking for gators
Manitee spotting at the marina
Papa and Brielle
Caden and Papa
Junior ranger badges
Sea of sawgrass
Here we go
Love this shot
A 3ft pass?
Robert Is Here milkshake
Robert Is Here sign