Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Visit to the Everglades over Christmas 2001

I had a chance to visit the Everglades over Christmas of 2001. We left early on a Saturday morning and drove to Lorton VA outside Washington D.C. where we caught the over night auto train to Sanford Florida, not far from Orlando. We stayed near Kissimmee, within a stones throw of Disney World and related theme parks. This may sound horrifying to some of you, but we were not all that interested in Disney World and the other theme parks. Rather we spent a quiet day or say at the complex where we stayed. Our plan called for us to leave on the day after Christmas to drive down to the Everglades, staying over night about 30 miles east of Naples. Instead, we called the hotel, added a night onto our stay, and left Christmas day.

The next day was our day in the Everglades. We got on U.S. Rte. 41, that I think may also be referred to as the Tamiami Trail. Our first stop was a tour boat service officially sanctioned by the Everglades National Park Service (ENP). I don't recall the exact nature of the affiliation of this tour boat service with the ENP except that I had the impression that it had some kind of "stamp of approval" from the ENP. It was a little cool for Florida and windy, so we were glad that we had some light jackets aka windbreakers with us. We spent about one hour touring around the islands and the water ways near Everglades City. I was awestruck. I have pictures from our day in the Everglades, but they are not digital. One of these days, I may try to dig them up and get digital copies made.

We grabbed some food, and drove back to U.S. Rte. 41 continuing our drive across U.S. 41. My friend drove, and I looked outside the window at the "river of grass." It was magical to see the "river of grass". I thought of Marjory Stoneham Douglas' words. I saw the canals and the infrastructure for various water control projects that changed the shape of the 'Glades. I tried to imagine what the 'Glades were like all those years ago.

After 90 minutes or so, we came to our next stop in the ENP where there is an observation, some short trails, and a chance to sign up for a tour. We walked the trail and took the tour. Again, I rejoiced in seeing the "river of grass", and seeing the wildlife that I had read about. We finished the tour and headed back east, spending a little time on some of the dirt roads off of Rte. 41 and stopping at a trail head and walking through a forest.

I wish that I had kept a written diary of that day, I did not. Nonetheless, the images of what we saw live on.

Copyright 2008 K. Tyler Miller

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