We took friends from up north on a drive through Florida’s 500 mile wide shallow, slow-moving river called the Everglades. There are narrow clearings along our favorite 25 mile dirt road where we can see a little further into the cypress forest and find beautiful birds who are looking for some lunch, and other creatures who are drawn to the sun to warm themselves. Today was an alligator day.
I thought these juveniles would like to play until one of them hissed at me. I listened and showed respect.
I think I have fallen in love, again. I have written about my love of the Michigan countryside and the Upper Peninsula; I’ve also written that I’m having a hard time adjusting to the Florida countryside. It seems scrubby and unkempt. Then I remember that rural Michigan has fallen trees and limbs and leaves in the woods that I find beautiful – it touches my soul. Don’t try to find the logic in all this because the logic is emotional and our emotions have a different logic – one we don’t analyze very often.
We live about a half mile off US 41, the Tamiami Trail, that turns east in Naples to go through the Everglades to Miami. It is a two lane highway through the Everglades with very little civilization along it except for a good number of airboat ride companies. This is the Everglades National Park so it is protected lands. Twice in the past two weeks we went exploring. My goal was to capture the personality of the Everglades because the Everglades define southern Florida. There are major urban areas along the west and east coasts but they were carved out of the Everglades by draining the land, dredging drainage ditches, creating areas that could be built on. But some very wise people stepped in to protect the Everglades before it was destroyed by development.
Due to the global significance of Everglades National Park, it has been designated a Biosphere Reserve, a World Heritage Site, and a Wetland of International Importance. (Source: Everglades National Park website)
The Everglades is a 500 mile wide shallow river slowly flowing to the ocean. It covers almost 11,000 square miles covered with ponds, sloughs, sawgrass marshes, hardwood hammocks, and forested uplands. I visited some attractions on the edge of the Everglades, close to where I live, where I read about it and walked through small parts of it. It wasn’t until we drove in it, until I tried to capture its personality with my camera that I fell in love with the Everglades. This ecosystem is unique to southern Florida – it is southern Florida.
Grassland prairie along US 41.
Flocks of birds gather in the grassland. These look like Snowy Egret.
Bald Cypress growing in the Everglades.
One-lane road (off US 41) through the Everglades.
Alligator sunning in the shallow waters.
Wood Stork high in a tree along the one-lane dirt road.
This just doesn’t do justice to the wide variety of images that make up the personality of the Everglades but that just means that I’ll have to spend more time there with my camera and write more posts.
We weren’t in New York or London. We weren’t even having lunch at a restaurant down on 3rd Street in Naples. J and I were explore our southern dot on the map, Everglades City and Chokolockee, which are about as far south as you can go on the west side of Florida unless you are in a boat. It is in the Thousand Islands area of the Everglades National Park.
I took my camera because some sun had been promised. We only saw a few seconds of sun so I’m not pleased with the photos, but this sign caught my eye.
I think I am aiming to become a burger connoisseur. I tried to get a moose burger in Newfoundland, but it was past season. I had a bison burger in St. Mary in Glacier National Park in Montana, and I had a great beef burger at the Prairie Dog Cafe in South Dakota. I had to have a gator burger in the Everglades.
Alligator sunning on the edge of a pond.
We went in, looked at the menu, and wooh, the most expensive thing (at least under sandwiches) was the gator burger. I’ve paid $13 for lunch before; I just wasn’t expecting it in a small-town diner. But I was intrigued so we decided to do what we frequently do, split a meal with a couple of extra sides.
J said he expected it to taste like chicken and when it came it was a very light meat – like chicken. It didn’t taste like chicken, though, and we couldn’t decide what it tastes like – I guess like alligator. I detected a bit of a taste of fish. I enjoyed it and would order it again. We have decided we need another trip to the Everglades National Park when the sun is shining because I would like to work on recording the personality of the Everglades in photographs.
Jake has posted the Sunday word of the week and it is “reality”. You can join the fun at: http://jakesprinters.wordpress.com/2014/01/12/sunday-post-reality/