We left the Keys Tuesday morning. We were sure sad to leave. We could easily have stayed several more months.
We consoled ourselves with plans to come back down in March.
I had been a bit concerned about getting out of our campsite (#160), but my hero Al backed us right out with no problems.
An interesting and unusual sign.
We decided to bite the bullet on the traffic and construction on US 41, and head back to Midway Campground in the Everglades.
This time, there wasn’t nearly as much traffic or road construction and it was an easy 160 mile drive.
One lesson we learned on our Keys trip was not to go between Christmas and New Years week. There are just too many people during that week. A lot of them left after New Years. Next year, we’ll wait a week. (notice we’re already making plans for next winter)
We got to Midway Campground and were glad to see there were still some sites available. You can’t call ahead or reserve a site. It’s strictly first come first serve. 30/50 amp electric but no water or sewer. There is a place to fill up with water and a dump station. We got on site 12. We were not able to get any phone or internet service. The last time we were in site 18 and I got internet in one corner of the bedroom. Al asked if I could survive a day without internet? I felt I could survive one day, but we ended up staying two nights because of an approaching storm coming our way. It’s been a tough two days! Fortunately when we got on the highway we picked up internet pretty quickly, so I at least got my “fix.”
So, while back in the Everglades our goal was to find that “critter” we saw last time and confirm it was a Florida Panther. I didn’t get a clear picture of him last time.
Al and I have reached an agreement. When we spot something like that, he is to stop the truck because my zoom lens can get there faster then the vehicle can, and it won’t scare it off.
We did see this Florida Panther.
We drove along a few roads in panther territory in search of the elusive panther, but never saw one.
We drove down to “Shark Valley” Tuesday afternoon. It’s run by the National Park Service, so we were able to get in free with Al’s Senior Pass. Normal fees are $10.
There is a walking/biking trail that runs 15 –20 miles through the everglades. The road was build by the Civilian Conservation Corp, back in the days when they wanted to “drain the swamp.”
We took a short walk on the trail by the canal and the trail was literally covered with gators and one snake.
We have lived in Florida most of our lives, but I have to tell you, that was a bit intimidating. You would have to walk within feet of the mouths of those gators who were mostly facing the trail.
They offer a 2 hour tram tour for $18 per person. No discounts except $1.00 off for seniors.
We debated whether or not to go, since it was a bit expensive. We finally decided to give it a shot and we were sure glad we did.
We ended up on the 4pm sunset tour. Our guide, George was very knowledgeable and interesting. We felt like we got our moneys worth and thoroughly enjoyed the tour.
We learned a lot about the Everglades and the creatures that inhabit the area.
We saw a lot of gators.
including a mama and her babies.
There is a tower along the tour and we got 15 minutes to walk to the top for a beautiful 360 degree view of the everglades. It was spectacular.
We saw more gators from the tower.
There are a LOT of gators in the Everglades! There are a LOT of birds in the Everglades.
We left Midway Campground at 9:35 am. We should be home around 1:30. We went back a little different route. We cut through and got over to I 75 which is called “Alligator Alley” We could have stayed on 41 all the way to Naples and next time we will. It was a lot more scenic of a drive and we saw lots more wildlife than on 75.
We loved the everglades and will come back and explore it more. We passed by Florida Panther Preserve on the way. That may be a good place to visit next time. The Everglades is a magical place…just don’t go in the summer. There are 43 different species of mosquitos that reside there!
Tomorrow is the Tampa Rv Show.