The Everglades part I

Miami is the only city in the world, bordered by 2 national parks. And since I prefer nature over highway connectors, toll roads and skylines, we headed to the Everglades for the first time on our second day. The Ernest F. Coe visitor Center was only 40 min drive away from our hotel.

As soon as we opened the car doors, we were welcomed by dozens of mosquito's. Clearly we were still not well adapted and prepared for the Florida climate, dressed in shorts and tops while visiting a swamp and our mild European repellent usefully laying idle in the hotel room.  Fortunately these visitor centers are all equipped to welcome ignorant tourists selling strong DEET repellent products in their gift shops.   So we sprayed ourselves generously and also Beertje's clothes and headed further to the Royal Palm stop a bit further in the park where we could join a park ranger walking tour along the Aningha Trail

Right away we spotted an alligator drawing a V-mark at the distance in the water but he didn't want to show himself close-up. Further on in the walk however we did spot some alligators closer-by despite the fact that there aren't many around in the wet season as they have an abundance of place to go to (in contrast to the dry season why they all group around the remaining water spots).
On the other hand it was practically impossible not to step on the huge colorful grasshoppers that were everywhere.
With the ranger, we learned about plants, wildlife and history of the park, while smacking the mosquito's from our body, while preventing Beertje from running off into the wilderness constantly, while dripping from sweat until it started to rain again. 

Since neither the Ernest Coe Visitor Center or the Palm Tree stop had any food services and since we wanted to see more of the park, we drove to the end of the park road to the Flamingo Visitor Center at the Bay. The different stops and trails on our way there had been declared mosquito horror and very wet by the park officials so we didn't take any of the other potential stops. During the trip, we were a few times surprised by an amazing downpour which lasted exactly 1 minute and then magically disappeared again. 

The view at Flamingo over the bay was magnificent...but the mosquito's were a pest. We couldn't stop spraying repellent, all in vain.   To mock us, the sign in the visitor center marked the level of mosquito's at "unpleasant" (level 3 out of 5...level 1 being nice, level 5 being absurd). Well at least I could agree that they were rather "unpleasant".
The visitor center was empty and dead and the food service turned out to be a fridge with sandwiches in a little store next to the marina.  We decided it would be unsafe to take Beertje on the flat bottom boat rides for 90 minutes out in the bay, so all we did was buy a sandwich and chips and pick-nick in the car with closed doors. 

We enjoyed a smooth relax drive back along the same landscapes of marshes, pine-trees, grass wetlands next to us with hunting birds of prey flying over our heads with hardly any traffic on the road. The kids missed their promised ice-cream stop as they were sound asleep. Back in the hotel there was sufficient time left for swimming, going out for dinner....and for the missed ice-cream :).


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