Saturday, January 16, 2016

Lots of Driving But a Great Day!

What a great day with Ernie and Noela.

The alarm woke Ken and I at 5:45 and we got ready for today's adventure.  Ken made us delicious egg and Canadian bacon sandwiches and bowls of fresh fruit. We loaded the CRV and picked up Ernie and Noela at their RV at 7 AM.  Thus began the drive to the Everglades, a 2 1/2 hour trip.  

We saw a beautiful sunrise as we drove and only stopped 1 time for a bathroom break and to get some drinks. 

It was a gorgeous sunrise!

Our next stop was the Marsh Trail where we had seen many roseate spoonbills 3 years ago.  It had been a foggy morning and the dew and moisture on the spider webs was incredible. 

Spider webs were everywhere!

They are all so intricate!


 Unfortunately, we did not see any of Ken's favorite birds, the roseate spoonbill.  Matter of fact, we hardly saw any birds, just a lot of ducks.

You climb this small lookout to overlook the marsh.  Not
many special birds today!

Did see this tri-colored heron!

Which way is up and which way is down????

Look at those beady eyes!

Here we are walking along the Marsh Trail.  
We met a couple on the Marsh Trail who had just seen a Florida Panther cross the road on their way to the trail.

We continued driving and stopped and walked along the boardwalk that runs along Turner River.  We didn't see anything too exciting there either.

The drive continued until we reached Shark Valley which is part of the Everglades National Park.  We could not get into the parking lot, it was so full.  Many cars were parked along the highway and we joined them.  Unhitched our bikes, put the coolers and bags on our bikes and rode into the park area.  

You can walk the trail, ride the tram, or bike the 7 miles in and 7 miles out.  We were so glad we had our bikes to enjoy the ride on the macadam trail that goes right along the marsh area.  You get to see lots of birds, turtles, some snakes, and most importantly, alligators very up close and personal.  

At the very 1st alligator right at the beginning of the trail Ken wanted me to take a picture of him holding our stuffed "Waldo" that Samantha and Katelyn had given us when we bought Waldo.  Somehow Waldo "leaped" out of Ken's hand and landed very close to the large alligator.  Now what?????  Noela found a large stick and Ken was able to move Waldo towards him without waking up the alligator.  Hallelujah!  What a start to our ride!!!

Ken is pointing to Waldo that is lying beside the alligator!

Fortunately the alligator was sleeping when Ken used a stick
to drag Waldo back to us!

Our next stop was at a mother alligator with all of her babies.  A park warden was there telling people along the trail facts about alligators.  Mommy alligators have babies 1 time a year and lays about 30 to 40 eggs.  It is expected that only 2 or 3 of all those babies will survive their 1st year.  They have so many predators.  If they reach 3 years of age, they will probably survive.  At that point their worst predator is the python.  The baby alligators are so cute and it is interesting how they rest on top of each other.

Baby alligators are so cute!

Here you can see 3 on top of each other.

I can count 5 on this pile!  I wonder which one is the safest????

It looks like piggy back rides to me!!!

We saw many alligators along our ride, some of them laying with their tails on the trail - you could actually ride over them, but it is not advised!!!!!

Time for a swim!

Now Ken, don't get too close with Waldo.  We wouldn't
want to lose Samantha and Katelyn's gift to us!!!!!

Wow, this guy is close to the trail.  I wonder what would
happen if we rode over his tail?????

I know you would like to wrestle a 4 foot gator, but this one
is way too big!!!!!

I wonder if they are a "pair"?????

Wow, you can certainly get close to the alligators along
this trail!

This was one BIG alligator!

We also enjoyed seeing beautiful shore birds - anhingas (drying their wings), large blue heron, tri-colored herons, wood storks, and egrets.  There were some turtles too!

Their wings are so beautiful! 
It is hard to tell, but this was a very large
blue heron!

A colorful turtle that was not afraid of humans!

There is a large cement tower at the end of the trail where we ate our lunch and then climbed to the top.  You get a great view of the area.  You can make a loop to go back to the visitor's center and parking lot, but we chose to go back the same way we had come.  There is very little wildlife on the back part of the trail.  On our return trip, we saw 2 snakes, not something I need to see!

A very unique cement tower!

Waldo liked his view of this alligator!

The flat marshy area goes on forever and ever!

The happy foursome on the top of the tower!

Yeah, a snake - NOT!!!

We arrived back at the car around 3:30 after riding the 14 miles.  Ken was so tired, for it is most exercise he has done since he was sick.  After driving about 30 miles or so, he asked Ernie if he would mind driving.  So, Ernie drove the rest of the way to the CG making 1 stop for gas and some ice cream at McDonald's.

We did get a great picture of the sunset.  So, it was a long day of driving and riding.  We only got back to the CG at 7 - a 12 hour day.  Ken was in bed by 8:30 feeling drained!  I downloaded photos and worked on the blog while watching football.

A gorgeous sunset for the end of another special day!

It was a wonderful day and thank you, Ernie for driving most of the way back to the CG.

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