We left the Tampa area around 8:30 am on Monday…a record for us.
Our plan was to go about 230 miles and try to find a campsite in the Everglades, along Highway 41. There are a few campgrounds, but they are first come, first serve, so we didn’t know if we would be able to get a site or not. Fortunately, we did.
We spent Monday night at Midway Campground, in site 18. We had 50 amp electric, but no water or sewer. Actually they have a spigot where you can get fill your tank, but no water at the campsites. It was okay, because we traveled with a full tank of water, anticipating we’d be staying there. The cost with Al’s Senior Pass was $10.00.
It was a nice campground, but out in the middle of nowhere. It would be a great place to spend a few days. There was a lot to do in the area. We’d love to go back and take an airboat trip into the glades, and do some more exploring.
It was so dark last night, that you couldn’t see anything except lots of stars.
Here is a picture of our campsite.
The road and sites were all paved.
There is a small pond, and the sites are all situated along the pond. The campground is nice, but it’s main attraction was being in the everglades.
We were in the middle of the Everglades and there were alligators everywhere. All along highway 41, there are canals along the side of the road, and all were full of gators. The ecosystem seems to be extremely healthy. There were birds everywhere. The canals were full of fish, gators and birds. Driving along the highway was a wonderful experience. It wasn’t a good place to stop and take pictures though. There were several visitor centers where you could view the wildlife. I would have loved to gotten some pictures of the birds sitting in the trees along side the road, but it’s a 2 lane road with enough traffic to make it unsafe to stop along the road.
I have never seen so many Anhinga’s.
I have also never seen so many gators.
They were all along the canals that ran alongside the roadway.
We stopped at a visitor center, where you could stand on a boardwalk and view them from above. There were a lot of foreign tourists and very little English being spoken. The everglades appears to be a big tourist draw.
After we left the visitor center, we took a driving trail and shortly after starting the trail, we saw what we thought was a Florida Panther. I didn’t get a good shot and he disappeared into the woods, but this is what I saw. I was disappointed I didn’t get a better picture, but what I saw looked very much like a panther. It was large and it wasn’t a dog. It had the shape of a cat.
A little while later, we saw a small snake curled up in the middle of the road. Of course, Al had to get out and poke it, to get it out of the road. He thought it may have been hit by a car, but he wanted to at least attempt to help it get to safety.
There was no arguing with him!
You can see his fangs if you look carefully. He thought it might have been a Pygmy Rattler. Wonderful!
We found a few other places to stop and look at gators. This place had a pile of 9 gators…all big boys!
I don’t know what was wrong with this ones mouth. It may have had an injury.
It is extremely dangerous to feed alligators, even small ones. It’s against the law and there are signs all over, telling you not to do it.
Once they lose their fear of man, they are dangerous.
There are always people who want to feed them and we ran into a family that had hot dogs that they were feeding the small gators. I think they might have been from Brazil and only the woman spoke much English. I think I educated her in why they shouldn’t feed gators. I hope so anyway.
Here is a “swamp buggy.” They use these to travel in the everglades. I guess they are hunters.
This gator appeared to be making eye contact.
The water was teeming with fish. No one went hungry!
The Everglades is truly a beautiful place. We had driven through it years ago, but always in a hurry to get to the Keys. We felt lucky to have had some time to explore it a little bit. Boy were there a lot of birds. We hope to be able to go back and spend a few more days. Winter is the time to go though. It was pretty warm yesterday and we ended up running the a/c all night long. No mosquitos though. We got lucky.
We got up early today and went looking for that panther….but we never saw him again.
It was then time to head towards the Keys. More on that tomorrow, but we are in the Keys and and it was a beautiful drive. We think we’re going to love it here!