"It is in the wild places, where the edge of the earth meets the corners of the sky, the human spirit is fed." Art Wolf

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Big Cypress Nationl Park and More Sights

So we moved on up the road and made our way to Midway campground, a wonderful modest park that has electric and accepts the National Pass so a night's stay is only $10 dollars.  I love my National Parks.  Some of our adventures were from driving a gravel/dirt loop though the Big Cypress National Park and some were from driving back to Shark Valley which is actually back in the Everglades. The boundaries are really hard to keep clear but as long as the land and the animals are protected and preserved, I don't care what they call the lands.

And just to make it clear there are no sharks in Shark Valley.  The story that was told was that Miami on one side and Naples and Fort Meyers on the west are all at least 6 feet higher than the Everglades.  And those early explorers traveling down the Gulf Coast through the thousand islands to make their way to Key West noticed that there were sharks there and they thought, "Hey, I think these sharks are coming from those rivers that come down through that "valley."  I think they make up some of these stories.  It explains why the called is Shark Valley then but it doesn't explain why they thought to name things after the story.

Nice spacious spots.

The view out our windows towards the other side of the campground.  The Host reported that there were several 'gators in the small lake and one that was known to be a rogue so that we should be careful walking close to the water especially at night.   The "rogue" had been found before under some one's rig  before. 

Driving the "loop" road.

 Liz and I learned our lessons about long hikes on hot days and kept our side trips short.

But the walks were worth it.

This land is full of different kinds of water environments.

The loop road.....

We stopped to take the Nature Trail near the Outdoor Education Learning Center.  After reading about the small tree snails that live in those woods, we headed down the trail to find them.   It was harder than we thought but we did find some.

But it was a jungle looking environment in there. I could finally imagine a place that panthers could lay up for the days heat and the Bobcats could walk down the path behind me.

The next day after the two hour drive through the loop road we headed out to Shark Valley first thing in the morning to be sure that we could find a parking place. We were on the first tram to head out.

Other early birds, only these came with cameras, big cameras.

Ring around the rosie... Oh, not really, it is mating season for alligators and this is just part of their romance.

Liz listening carefully to our tour guide tell more stories about the Everglades.

Have way through the tour, the tram stops so we can climb the tower that was originally built by Humbolt Oil, back when they thought there was oil to be had in the Everglades.  Lucky for us it was not a high enough quality and the lands were turned over to the park.

So everybody, get out and take 15 minutes to climb up the tower and/or take a bathroom break.  Wait, this is a joke, right?  The keeping us from climbing the tower is one thing but this guy was messing with a group of people with "over" 60 bladders. This could have been serious. As it was the alligator gave in before our bladders gave out.

From the top of the tower we saw were all his cousins were hanging out.

It is flat out there.

After coming down from the observation tower, Liz and I made a brief side trip down a short trail before we got herded back to the tram.  It was nice a shaded and we knew we didn't have much time so I was walking sort of fast.

Until..... Yes, he was resting there right next to the trail.   Slowed me down rather quickly.

Later back on the tram tour.

With all the alligators on the second half of the tour, it made me wonder why we had to stop and look at those small ones here and there during the first half of the tour.  They have to know that this leg of the trip is all 'gators, all the time....every ten feet or so.

Back on my feet, I wandered back to the area that the photographers were camp out. Anytime you see large camera, it is useful to see what is getting all the attention.  I think we got one of our best "Grizzly" pictures in Alaska by stopping by the BIG camera fellas.  There guys are very serious camera taking people.

Notice the the two women (yes they were women, couldn't you tell?) farthest away from me have everything covered and protected from the sun. And the man sitting directly in front was talking with the fellow in the pink shirt and, I kid you not, they were comparing the size of their equipment.  Somehow with the shape of those lenses, I didn't find it all that surprising that men would want to brag about their equipment.

So, that is the last of the Everglades for awhile.  Liz has to head back towards Ocala and I am heading....hum, I haven't decided yet. I just know that Ohio is still to icy and snowy for the present.

Playing Tourist in the Everglades

After Nan pulled out to head back north Liz and I continued to explore the Everglades. I already posted some of our adventures but there are just so many pictures you can upload at a time.  It is the least I can do to brighten up the snowy environments of the northern states.

The sea of grass continues flowing but remember this is the dry season so that may be trickling...

We saw these signs around the visitor centers and tour places. It seems that the vultures like rubber...on wipers and roof rakes especially! I protected my wipers with a doggy blanket/baby blanket.  Surprise, surprise, there is no shortage of loose blankets in my car.

And then we headed out to the Royal Palms Board Walk.

The elves only come out at night...when we are gone.....

"Yes, I see the 'gator, but we can both hope that he is taking his afternoon nap."

"Hey, Charlie, do that scary things with you wings the tourists are coming.  You hold them off here while we circle back and get their metal things with the sweet sweet candy rubber attached.

"yes, I really am this big. You doubted me?" "I just don't like hanging around in the slough with all the gang. Tose are just the young folks in there!"

"Harry, he says he really just wants to get out of the water and sun for awhile."  "Why should we move? We out number him. Tell him that."

"Ah, Harry, maybe we should reconsider...."

"We are hungry Dad. Really hungry!"

Just looks like the praire, remember?

Yes, I am just that handsome, you guys can walk past me and look all you want.

"Is Charlie still over on the boardwalk distracting the tourist. We said we would save him some."

There are more photographs of photographers coming but I liked this couple.  I talked with her as she walked past and, yes, she does know how to come prepared for an afternoon of following her husband, the photographer, around.

One of our tourist trips was out to see the Nike Missile site.  The sign was a reproduction of the original.  The were serious about the deadly force part.  Again, because south Florida is so close to Cuba, the visit to the site was a refresher course in the Cold War and the Cuban Missile Crises.  There were a few younger people in the crowd but most of us remembered the drills in school....

The grounds themselves are not that exciting and the imagination was working overtime thinking about the 18 to 23 year olds that were assigned out in the middle of nowhere to "protect and serve."

All those missiles and nuclear warheads and so little communication systems at the time.....

Star Trek had it about right....

And then there was a slow tourist day and  Remi and Stuart got some much needed attention.  Well, I guess they did have different opinions about that - particularly the trimming the nails part.

Nice little rig pulled in....

They wanted you all to know that they did survive the trims....

Last night at the Long Pine Key Campground. I still like the silhouette of the slash pines....