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Sat. Dec. 3 to Fri. Dec. 9- Ohio Key to Everglades FL

Saturday- We did one final time through the Big Pine Farmers Market. We stopped at the Winn Dixie then returned to the MH to wait for the RV Tech. He arrived at 1, and fixed the propane water heater by putting in a new igniter. Then he installed the new toilet.

After he left, we read and prepared to leave in the morning, taking down the shades, pulling in the awnings, putting the chairs and rug outside away, and Bob put the bikes on the bike rack.

We ate dinner at home and went at 7:45 to the ice cream social. There were a lot less people there this week! We returned to the MH and watched some recorded TV.

Sunday-  We had to be out of our spot by 11 and could not check in until 3 which could be an issue. We drove north thru the Keys, stopping in Islamorada, because we could find a one hour parking space on the road. We ate lunch and waited as long as we could.

We arrived at John Pennycamp Coral Reef State Park at 1:05. Fortunately, the site, #7, was empty, as you had to check out by 1 PM. We were able to go directly to our site. We set up, walked the dogs, and rode our bikes around the beautiful park.

We ate dinner at home, read and watched TV. We wondered about snorkeling tomorrow, when we have a reservation to go on the trip, as the boat trips were all cancelled for today. We received a call late in the evening that the 9 AM trip was cancelled, so Bob moved our reservation to the 10:30 trip.

Monday- At about 8 AM we received a phone call that the snorkeling trips were cancelled for today. The park sends a boat out to check the reef and evidently the water was rough enough that visibility at the reef  was poor.

We decided to drive up to Homestead to the Walmart and then farther north to the Costco to re-stock the cabinets and freezer. We stopped for lunch at the Crepe place, purchased gas, and returned to Key Largo.

We unpacked everything thing  and re-packaged items into smaller amounts. We ate dinner at home.

Tuesday- At about 8:00 AM we received a phone call that the snorkeling trips were cancelled for today. Evidently the water was rough enough that visibility at the reef  was still poor.

So, since we were already in our bathing suits and ready to go, we decided to go jet skiing. We drove south, back to Islamorada, and rented two jet skis. The guy came out with us onto the ocean and we spent an hour running up and down the coast. This was my first time on a jet ski, and it was fun, but I think we would have liked to be on the bay more than on the ocean, as the water was a little rough.

We stopped on the way back for lunch, then stopped at the Swim with the Dolphins . It was outrageously expensive, and we passed on that. It would have cost us about $600!

We returned to the MH, and rode our bikes around. We stopped in at the concession stand, where they were loading the glass bottom boat. Hmmm, we will see about snorkeling in the morning! Our reservations are for the 9 AM trip.

We went out for dinner at Mrs. Mac’s Restaurant, where we had a really nice meal, that was reasonable priced.

Wednesday- We have to leave today, so we were not holding out much hope for the 9 AM snorkeling trip. Bob called at 7:45, and the trip was on! We quickly prepared, as we had already prepared the MH to be ready to leave.

We drove over to the concession stand, paid for our reservation, and went over to where they give you the mask and fins. We had to purchase the snorkel. Bob also rented a 1/2 wet suit to use, as he gets cold in the water.

We had to wait about 20 minutes at this point and we were miserable with being bitten by the No See-ums. Both of us have lots of red welts on our arms and legs.

We boarded the boat, and were given the safety lecture, and shown how to put on the life vests that we were required to wear while snorkeling. The trip out to the reef took about 45 minutes. We put on our equipment and swam about 200 yards to the reef.

We saw lots of fish, coral, and conchs. The pictures are all on the disposable waterproof camera, which has to be developed in a store. Old technology!

We arrived back at the MH at 11:30. We quickly took showers, walked the dogs, ate lunch and were able to pull out of the site by 12:30. We hooked up the car and traveled north.

In Florida City, we turned west to go the southern part of the Everglades. We parked the car a Ernest F. Coe Visitor Center. Bob noted at this point that he was having A-fib, we think from being dehydrated.

He took his pills and drank some Propel. We went into the visitor center, and stamped our NPS book. Bob disconnected the car and we drove west on the park road, leaving the dogs in the MH in the visitor center parking lot. No dogs are allowed out of the vehicles, to prevent problems in the park.

We drove to Pa-hay-okee Overlook. By this time, Bob’s A-fib had stopped, but he was wiped out by the medicine. We walked along the boardwalk and looked at the Fresh Water Marl Prairie.

South Everglades

South Everglades

South Everglades

We back tracked to the Royal Palm Visitor Center. We stamped our NPS passport, then I walked out on the Anhinga Trail, which is about 0.8 miles.

South Everglades

South Everglades

I was lucky to get to see these alligators.

South Everglades

South Everglades

DSCN7391

South Everglades

Bob stayed at the visitor center as he did not feel up to walking out on the boardwalk.

We left and returned to the MH. I drove us back through Homestead and north on Rt. 997. It was under construction, so it was a pretty lousy drive!

We turned onto Hwy 41, the Tamiami Trail and drove west. We turned into the NPS Midway Campground at 5 PM, $15 per night with our geezer pass. We settled into our reserved site, #5, 50 amp with no water or sewer. We set up, ate dinner, watched TV and went to bed. We have absolutely no internet connection a we are out in the middle of nowhere!

Thursday-  We left at 8:30 and drove east to the Shark Valley Visitor Center on Hwy 41. We purchased our tickets for the two hour tram tour.  The tram covers the 15 mile trail through the park, out to an observation tower and back. We had to sit until 9:30, then we joined the tram, along with 2 other couples.

There was a NPS driver and tour guide. The driver would spot the wildlife and the guide told us about the park critters.

The first stop was only a few feet onto the road, where we saw these baby alligators.

Shark Valley tram tour

We saw lots of birds. Below is a Great Egret, which is an all the year bird. We saw lots of them.

Shark Valley tram tour

Shark Valley tram tour

We saw lots of alligators. There is only one crocodile in the park, and it is a female that they track. Crocodiles are salt water creatures, where as the alligators are fresh water.

Shark Valley tram tour 

I think our guide was crazy, but she jumped off the tram and waded into the water to show us the flora and fauna. Yuck!

Our guide.

Shark Valley tram tour

Above is an alligator trail. They move to higher ground, in the trees in the cold weather,

We arrived at the tower and walked out to it. We were only allowed to climb up to the lower part of the top area. We could not climb the metal steps.

Shark Valley tram tour

Shark Valley tram tour

We were able to see a turtle and a crock in the water.

Shark Valley tram tour

Shark Valley tram tour

Shark Valley tram tour

Below is the tram.

Shark Valley tram tour

Shark Valley tram tour

Shark Valley tram tour

I have no idea what type of bird this is above.

Shark Valley tram tour

Lots of crocks!  We completed the tram tour and returned to the MH for lunch. After lunch and walking the dogs, we went west on Hwy. 41 to the Oasis Big Cypress National Preserve Visitor Center.

We watched the movie then went out on the boardwalk to see more crocks.

Big Cypress Visitor  Center

Big Cypress Visitor  Center

Big Cypress Visitor  Center

We had a little bit of internet/phone access at the visitor center, so we tried to call one of the airboat vendors. Unfortunately, they were  not answering their phones. So we returned east to see if we could get a reservation for tomorrow, when the weather was expected to be better. It was supposed to rain all today, but it did not.

We arrived at Buffalo Tiger Airboats, owned by the Miccosukee Native Americans. When we arrived  they had one more 45 minute tour scheduled for the day, so we decided to take it. Our guide was Martin. We had the whole boat to ourselves!  A private tour is $200, each. We had a private tour for $27 each. A real bargain!

Airboat tour

Airboat Tour

Airboat Tour

Martin stopped the airboat to show us a mother and her babies. Below is a baby.

Airboat Tour

Airboat Tour

Airboat Tour

Airboat Tour

The reason she was smiling, is because Martin gave her bread. We moved on to another spot and another gator. This one was old.

Airboat Tour

Then we moved on to another older guy.

Airboat Tour

Airboat Tour

Airboat Tour

Airboat Tour

Airboat Tour

He is feeding Oreos to the gators at this point….

Obviously, he has a relationship with these gators. He was actually patting them on the nose. They know he is coming and wait for the boat to stop before they come over for their treats( bread or Oreos). The alligator is a predator. Males will eat the babies, so the male and female separate after mating. How they mate is that the male will find a big stick and give it to the female. Then he has to hold her under water. If she can get loose, getting her head above the water, then she does not mate with him, as he is not a strong enough mate. We only saw the one female and the rest were males.

We continued to our next stop which was on the site of an old Native American village. This is how they lived in the huts, behind Martin. Below is an old crock who is blind in one eye. As a result he has difficulty hunting and is very thin.

Airboat Tour 

Airboat Tour

Airboat Tour

We returned to the dock and drove back to the MH, arriving at a little after 5. We ate dinner  and watched TV.

Friday-  We left a little after 9 and drove west on Hwy 41 to the Big Cypress Swamp Visitor Center.  On the way we saw these birds.

Egrets

Note some of the birds were pink! They are not flamingos, they are the same birds.

 The movie was the same at both visitor centers, so we passed on the movie. We wandered out to the boardwalk as there are many times manatees at this visitor center. We did not see any today.

We continued west then turned south on Hwy. 29 to Everglades City. We stopped at the Gulf Coast Visitor Center. There are some interesting boat trips from this visitor center, out to the Ten Thousand Islands and another trip, but we passed as we have spent enough money in this area. We just stamped our NPS Passport.

We drove south on the road to Chokoloskee Island. There is an Outdoor World RV Park there which looked very nice, but there is nothing to do in this area unless you have a boat.

We returned to the MH, ate lunch and read the rest of the day. We ate dinner at home, read and watched TV.

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