20090226

Everglades NP - lots o' critters!


What a wonderfully diverse park.


Oh yeah, there were plenty of alligators!


Holy cow! American crocodiles! Everglades is the only place in USA where they exist.
Yellow rat snake with a big belly! And basking red slider turtles.


A butterfly hitchhiker. Walking catfish! Bee hive (honeycomb) at the base of a gumbo-limbo tree. (We didn't tarry long.)

20090225

Everglades National Park - best birding!


(Click on any photo to enlarge)

Flying woodstorks. Two red-shouldered hawks (one immature). Turkey vultures everywhere!

Check out the cormorant's eye. Black-crowned night heron. American bittern.

These anhingas displays were striking. (check out that eye!) Nice catch!

Great white egret. Yellow-crowned night heron. Nesting osprey up top, red-bellied woodpecker opposite it's hole-home beneath.

Green heron. Great blue heron. Immature ibis.

Roseate spoonbills feeding while wading in shallow water. Barred owl (with two fat, fluffy white chicks in a nearby nest). Whoo-whoo, whoo's cooking for youuuuuu...!

What a great national park.

20090224

Everglades National Park - great canoe paddle!


   

       

On Monday, 2/19 at 8 AM we joined a ranger-led (and free!) 5-mile paddle in shallow brackish water from Nine-mile Pond, thru red mangrove tunnels, winding out onto sedge flats, and back thru two small ponds, one of which was guarded by a fair-sized alligator at the entrance! This fascinating trip took four hours because there was so much to see. Birds galore: red-shouldered hawks, bald eagle, roseate spoonbills, herons, egrets, wood storks and so on. Blue tilapia, large-mouthed bass, Florida gar, and a huge Florida softshell turtle are some of the water creatures we spotted. Ranger Tim was informative and a fun guide. This paddle ranks right up there on our WOW list.

Everglades National Park 2/16 - 2/23



The RV set-up. Reading under the palm tree. Biking thru the Park.

Warm, sunny days, cool nights with zillions of stars, and - oh yea! - no bugs! That's ENP. Flamingo campground on Florida Bay at the bottom of mainland Florida is great - peaceful and quiet. (We learned how to relax!) Sunrise and sunset thru the palm trees was a sight to behold. Water everywhere for canoes, kayaks and fishing boats. Good bike trails, too. Wonderful week.

20090215

Friday the 13th, more Key West


Today was our last full day here, and we used it well - walking and seeing sights such as Ernest Hemingway's house, the lighthouse and Key West cemetery, all the time admiring colorful tropical foliage and dodging mean ol' chickens (kidding).

 

 



 

Oh my goodness, Jimmy and I shared a giant Cuban Sundae (homemade ice cream).
Ate the whole danged thing, and it was delicious.

 

Plus, we enjoyed more swimming and relaxing at La Brisa's pool and Jacuzzi.


And then we four had one last killer game of dominoes.
(Diane won big time! Go, Girl!)

20090212

Dry Tortugas National Pk, Wednesday 2/11/09


Freedom Ferry took us 70 miles west of Key West, a 2½ hour trip, to the Dry Tortugas over absolutely gorgeous aquamarine seas. Our boat stopped for approx 4½ hours on Garden Key where Fort Jefferson is, plunked like a giant mushroom atop this tiny island.



Diane, Jimmy and Tom.



We nearly got blown overboard by the winds! 😄


Fort Jefferson looks like it's afloat.
Love the turquoise waters.



Construction on the fort began in 1846, using 16,000,000 bricks imported from New York! And it was never finished or used as defense. We toured the fort and walked the brick perimeter separating the moat from the sea. Really enjoyed looking thru the clear shallow water at the lavender sea fans, corals, and tropical fishies -- what a wonderful experience.


Strolling atop the sea wall.








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What truly knocked our socks off were the Magnificent Frigate birds “floating” over the fort, like tethered kites. Round and round they flew.  


The frigate birds, along with sooty terns and brown noddies, were nesting on Long and Bush Keys, visible thru binoculars and the ranger’s scope. These island rookeries are closed during nesting season, but Whoa Nellie, we could certainly hear them!

For more info, go to www.nps.gov/drto