Tuesday, April 19, 2011

One Alligator, Two Alligator, More!!!

Everglades, Shark Valley

Alligator One

Royal Palm,. Everglades

Alligator Two

Alligator more!!

Alligators, alligators, alligators.....I have now seen enough alligators to last a lifetime!!!  And I sure know allot about them too. I know we haven't been writing, but since our goal while here was to explore the  Everglades it is best done by attending the Ranger led programs.  And that has meant getting up early and getting on the road to make the 1st ones at 10 am.  We went to Shark Valley on Saturday and found out that this week is free National Park week.  So if you are close to a National Park this is a great week to visit and be sure to find out what Ranger program's there are.  Also the Tram ride at Shark Valley was buy one get one half off, my kind of deal, so we rode that.  Now we lucked out and got a naturalist for our guide instead of a volunteer.  Nothing wrong with Volunteer's but our guy was full of information and had a way to keep learning about the Everglade's very interesting.  We even stopped the tram to get off and walk on what they call the alligator highway, as there were many alligators, yes I now know they can run fast so walked very carefully, and you can see their trails from the canal into the mangrove canopies.  We also learned how fast the sky can open up and rain on you.  As we arrived at the observation platform, and just stepped off (now only minutes before we had been on the gator highway and no sign of rain) when the rain just poured...some of us ran into a canopy of mangrove trees and prayed the alligator or snakes or panthers  or such weren't hungry that moment, to try and stay as dry as we could, but we were soaked!!  Then just like that it slowed down and Dusty went on up the observation platform, my ankle is still sore, and took some great pictures of the everglades.  During our walks with Rangers and volunteer's the rest of the day we saw many baby alligators, learned allot about the babies and how only one out of 20 may reach adulthood, even their own fathers and siblings will eat them and since it was mating season even ..umm...heard and barely could see the courtship and conceiving of a new generation of gator's...the Ranger was excited to have this experience.  Along one of the canals we saw many babies swimming and as we were getting pictures wondered where the mother was, we knew she was near by..they always are.  Dusty stepped closer to the edge and almost stepped on a baby gator, it jumped in the water and began making all kinds of chirping and then the other's started in and out popped the mothers head from under the water, her eyes open and the grass still on her nose, she eyed us very carefully....you didn't have to tell me twice to get on down the road!!  The Everglades are really one large river and man has almost destroyed it, we only have a small amount left and if it goes so does allot of animals and even fresh water for southern Florida...FYI..Florida is a Indian name (maybe Spanish I forget) for "Many flowers".  On the way to Shark Valley that day we had counted 24 alligator that we could just see from the road in the canal on Hwy 41.  We were excited about that, by the end of these 3 days..oh my..just another alligator.  On the way home that night we stopped by an Indian Casino, we hadn't been to one for a year and half..and for signing up in the Players Club got $15 each free play and two for one buffet.  We hadn't ate all day so that was nice..dinner was only $11.02 for the two of us, we played on their money and went home and it was a nice day.  On Sunday we went to Royal Palm and Flamingo.  Now these are places in the Everglades and each area of the glades are so different.  At Royal Palm we saw so many gators, baby Anhinga at different days old, birds sweeping down to catch fish, red belly woodpecker making her home and even at one spot Dusty counted 37 alligator (Old Eagle Eye).  Like I said it is mating season so they are out in full force and we even watched some battling over territories.  We went on down to Flamingo which is where the Florida Bay is and you see a whole different side of the everglades.  Allot of fishermen come here for some of the best fishing in the world.  People were seeing Manatee's in the water but we didn't and I was disappointed.  These are huge animals that are gentle and you should pull up a picture of them as they are hard to descibe, but early sailors thought they were mermaids.  We were riding the bike for the last two days and it was perfect weather and the roads were great, no hills and not much traffic this time of year.  Talking about weather, this is the weather report for the next 7 days..high 80's, low mid 70's, no rain....can you get any more perfect then that?????
Flamingo, Everglades
Do they look like you thought they would??

More alligators

Many, many baby gators, they still have their rings of yellow...click on this to see how many

My own Indiana Jones,  (keep going down more writing below, on road so pictures seem to go where they want!)

If you like birds then come here in winter!

Can you see the babies, click on pic
Yesterday, Monday the 18th we got up early...I am getting tired...and had a coupon for two for one for an Alligator Farm and Airboat ride.  Since we loved the airboat ride in Everglades City we were all for it.  Now let me explain, this is a "real farm".  Just like a cattle farm they grow and breed the alligators for food and hide, so that the wild gators can  replenish.  We watched them feed them ( best thing you could do with a rat if you ask me) which was interesting.  Then we went on our airboat....oh what a disappointment.  Now true it was like the opening scene of CSI Miami.. going through the tall grass...but only for 15 mins., not the hour like at Speedy's.  I feel sorry for the people who were paying full price, they were getting a short ride and seeing alligators in the pens, not the wild.  They did have a American Crocodile, so I got to see one and some Nile crocodiles..which are the very aggressive ones that will eat people...but they aren't in the Everglades..still ours will run fast and take off a chunk of you.  After the morning and afternoon at the farm we did a little shopping at the outlet and then had a two for one coupon for an Italian dinner.  It was a lovely dinner and Dusty's shrimp dish was superb and the portabela mushrooms were out of this world.  So we ended our Everglades trip on a nice note and decided the Everglades were much different then we had expected but still beautiful and a wonderment and since they are the only one's in the world  everyone should see them.  Support your National Park's, they are there for YOU!!
Dusty on Alligator highway

Anthony, our guide...it has been a dry winter , there should be water here

Long legged bird...don't ask me the names...

alligator highway

Click on pic to see how many alligators you can count

Babies ( really 7-8 months old)

Baby owl

Gators, gators everywhere

Nope, I don't see any Manatee's

Flamingo, Florida Bay

We were worried we wouldn't make it up this Pass!!

Flamingo, Florida Bay
The Everglades from the highest point

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