Nearly a week into our 2008 Christmas road trip, we made it to Everglades City, Florida. We were looking forward to 3 days of canoeing and camping along the Gulf Coast. But, the day we arrived, we decided just to enjoy the surroundings and spend the night comfortably in a local bed and breakfast (who also happened to rent canoes).
Before we could really enjoy ourselves, we decided to head to the local grocery store and stock up on supplies for our camping trip. This did not take long because the local grocery store was about the size of a large convenience store at a gas station. There was very little selection and only one brand of anything they carried. This had the advantage of making decisions very easy. Do you want bottled water? 1 liter or 2 gallons? Do you want beef jerky? Oh, they’re buy 3 get one free. Do you want granola bars? 1 box or 2? I love easy decisions!
On the way back to the hotel, we discovered a roadside park with a lovely swamp occupied by so much wildlife, at first I thought it was a zoo. I couldn’t get over the birds. If all birds were that big, birding would be so much easier!
The Cormorants stood around drying their wings. The Little Blue Heron posed while stalking fish. And the Anhinga, well, they were the most amazing of all. I saw a stick poking up through the surface of the water and suddenly realized it wasn’t a stick at all! It was the beak of an Anhinga who was walking along the bottom of the pond with its beak sticking up through the surface like a breathing tube. I don’t know if it was really breathing, but I was blown away by the scuba diving bird!
If the birds weren’t enough, the alligators added a whole new level of excitement. While you can’t tell from the photos, there was a fence between the closest alligators and us. Although, it was a fence they could have run around to get to us. I’ve heard alligators are pretty fast, but Pat kept an eye on the gators to make sure none were sneaking up behind me when I was looking at his brother. You have to respect any animal that has been around for as many millennium as the alligator. They reek of ancientness.
Amazed, loaded with images, and stocked with food for our trip, we decided to try a local restaurant that was recommended to us by the bed and breakfast. It was one of those hyper casual places that served on picnic tables with paper plates. But I had the best salad I’ve ever had in my life there–the greens, herbs, and flowers (yes flowers) were all grown in the restaurant’s own garden. Just writing about it makes me want to return just to have another one of those salads.
It was a great way to prepare for our canoeing adventure.