Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined.

Henry David Thoreau

Part II of the Marathon Trail Drive

Thursday February 14, 2013
Site T-15 Flamingo Campground
Everglades National Park


This is the continuation of our Marathon Trail Drive.  If you haven’t seen Part one, you can read it here.


We started our day at the Mahogany Hammock at 9am.  It is now after 1pm as we leave the Lone Pine Key area and travel up the road to the Royal Palm Visitor’s Center.  Here they have not only the visitor’s center but two very popular trails, The Anhinga Trail and the Gumbo Limbo Trail.

David spots this rig in the parking lot.
We were too hungry to go over and ask the driver if he is a full timer.

S to N on the Park Drive 270


The Royal Palm area  land was revered for its botanical diversity and spectacular hammock amongst the glades. During this time Henry Flagler owned much of the land and was building his railroad throughout eastern Florida. Scientists began calling for Paradise Key to be set aside as a state park to avoid it being thrust into Flagler’s development area. The Florida Federation of Women’s Club, and particularly the Preservation Committee chairwoman May Mann Jennings, took a deep interest in the issue and began campaigning for the designation of Paradise Key as a state park. To their success, the state declared 960 acres for Royal Palm State Park in 1916 to the FFWC. This acreage was also matched by Mrs. Flagler. Ingraham highway, a road from Florida City to Paradise Key, had also been recently completed and was dedicated along with Royal Palm State Park, on November 23, 1916. By 1921, 2,080 more acres had been donated by the state, making Royal Palm a 4,000 acre state park.   In 1947 it became the nucleus of Everglades National Park.

It is amazing how many of areas have been saved from development through the tireless efforts of a particular individual.  May Mann Jennings in this case and Marjorie Stoneman Douglas in the case of Everglades national Park.

We decide to begin on the Anhinga Trail and stop for lunch at the first shelter.

S to N on the Park Drive 282

The trail is only 8/10ths of a mile long but it takes a long time to walk due to the abundance of wildlife and visitors.  It is compared to The Shark Valley bike trail only this one is much shorter and on foot.

The first wildlife we see are the abundant and obnoxious vultures.

S to N on the Park Drive 285


Things quickly improve.

S to N on the Park Drive 286


This may be the Anhinga trail but the cormorants are here in a group lined up on the rail to greet us.

S to N on the Park Drive 303


Up close they are really amazing.

S to N on the Park Drive 311


S to N on the Park Drive 309


S to N on the Park Drive 318


The canal by the trail had the resident anhingas of course, along with wood storks, Great Blue Herons and what I think is an American Bittern.

S to N on the Park Drive 321

S to N on the Park Drive 332


S to N on the Park Drive 336


S to N on the Park Drive 347


This is what I call relaxed

S to N on the Park Drive 338


S to N on the Park Drive 340

S to N on the Park Drive 341


We stop to eat our lunch at the shelter and then round the bend of the boardwalk and are in anhinga nesting territory.  They are all over all the trees.


S to N on the Park Drive 349


S to N on the Park Drive 364


Juveniles and nests everywhere

S to N on the Park Drive 353


3??  Or is it 4 in this nest?

S to N on the Park Drive 360


They are so used to people that this guy is working on eating his fish right there on the boardwalk with us all watching him.  I am torn in my feelings that it’s wonderful we can all co-exist so closely, that we can learn so much about them when they are not afraid of us.  But then I worry that not being afraid of us may in some way be bad for them.
I did not see anyone feeding any of the wildlife on this trail.  And that is great!


S to N on the Park Drive 365


S to N on the Park Drive 369


This night heron was hanging onto this little branch in this pounce position for over half an hour.  My fingers would get really tired from gripping.  He never moved.  Straight as an arrow all that time.

S to N on the Park Drive 383


Around another boardwalk corner we came to what looked to me like some sort of alligator snoozing club.   There were over 40 alligators in this one area with wading birds walking all around them. And of course the vultures on the edge.


S to N on the Park Drive 394


S to N on the Park Drive 390A


S to N on the Park Drive 390B



S to N on the Park Drive 403


S to N on the Park Drive 406


S to N on the Park Drive 414



We return to the trail entry cormorant group.  I don’t know whether these pictures on the Anhinga trail count as “wildlife” pictures or not.  True the wildlife can leave any time they want but they sure do know how to pose. 

S to N on the Park Drive 435



Blue eyes looking at each other.  What are they each thinking?

Blue eyes 1

S to N on the Park Drive 436A



Our last trail of the day is the Gumbo-Limbo Trail.  I just love the name of that tree and wonder about the origin of it.  In a quick search I wasn’t able to find out what’s gumbo or limbo about it but it is also known as the “tourist” tree because of its red and peeling “skin”.  HA!

Another less than half mile trail it has a combination of hardwoods including BIG live oaks and gumbo limbo of course.

S to N on the Park Drive 440


S to N on the Park Drive 453 

S to N on the Park Drive 444


The trees and others are watching us as we walk through this dense hardwood hammock.

S to N on the Park Drive 455


S to N on the Park Drive 463

The original road to Flamingo crosses this trail going in both directions.  We sure would like to have taken it to see how far you can go these days but this day is getting late and this really has been a marathon trail day.  SO …..yet another reason to return to the Everglades.

S to N on the Park Drive 465


It is now 3:30.  Amazing, we’ve done all this in 6.5 hours.  We deserve a prize.   So off we go to the famous Robert Is Here fruit stand located a few miles outside the northern entrance to the park.


S to N on the Park Drive 474

Robert is celebrating 53 years in this location.  It was started in 1959 by 6 year old Robert Moehling in order to sell his father’s over supply of garden cucumbers.   It’s a great story.  Read it here.   Robert was behind the counter today when we visited.


S to N on the Park Drive 477



Robert’s is as famous for its fruit milk shakes as for its exotic tropical fruits.   Here are today’s flavors.




Every day flavors

S to N on the Park Drive 486

Today’s specialty flavors

S to N on the Park Drive 488


You have to stand in line to place your order.  They give you a number and then you can shop until they call your number.  So that’s what we do.  I order a coconut milkshake, David has the Sapodilla pineapple special.  At this point, I haven’t read what all these fruits were so I am sticking with a personal favorite.

While we wait, we fill our basket with fresh fruits and vegetables. 

S to N on the Park Drive 478


You can spend a long time in Robert’s just taste testing and reading the labels to find out what all these exotic fruits are.

S to N on the Park Drive 479

S to N on the Park Drive 481

S to N on the Park Drive 482

S to N on the Park Drive 483

S to N on the Park Drive 484

We drink our milkshakes, pay for our purchases, fill up the car with gas and head back into the park.
It is 7:30 by the time we get this far.
Another 38 miles to go. 

S to N on the Park Drive 498


But we do get back in time give Nancy and Bill a bag of Robert’s tomatoes and to zoom around in the dark with flashlights in our mouths taking down everything – mat, chairs, tables, tablecloth, hammock, screen room -  before it pours down rain.

And it does pour.  All night long. 
But we don’t have soaking things to pack up tomorrow.  
What a day this has been!


  1. Love the Anhinga feather patterns. Great closeup! What a wonderful produce/fruit stand to go to. We would go broke buying up all the good things :)

  2. I also love the feathers on the Cormorants. I don't think I've ever seen them at that angle before.

    I hope you washed your hands after you put it on the poop covered railing. :))))

    You guys sure packed a lot into one day. I can see another trip to the Everglades in your future!

  3. Thanks for the Robert Is Here tour and tips. I called the store and ordered a large gift box be sent to the woman who is caretaking our house in Vermont for the winter. I had been trying to decide what to send her. Your mention of Robert Is Here was all I needed. I think she will really enjoy it.

    It would have been interesting to find out if the guy with the teardrop in the parking lot was a full-timer. Isn't that about all one needs to live on the road? I'd be interested in reviewing a side-by-side expense report of those full-timing with a tent and those in a large motorhome.

    When are you publishing your first book - a compilation of your travels (blogs)?

  4. Great pictures - The milkshake place is now on my list.

  5. Wow - what an adventure - so many birds and trees - I like the blue eyes pictures :) I would have LOVED Robert is Here - all those fruits & veggies and the shakes...I notice you did not comment on whether they were actually good or not. Another great blog!

  6. Great post Sherry! I don't even know where to begin. Love all the great wildlife shots, especially the very relaxed gator -- too funny. And the tree with eyes -- very cool. Would love to go to that fruit stand. I'd have a hard time picking out a milkshake from all those delightful choices. Oh yeah, and cute teardrop trailer. That can't be big enough for a human. Maybe his pet's RV? :-)

  7. So much to see! Wow, you really took it all in today (including your outdoor stuff LOL).

    Robert is Here is the kind of place I love to find/go to. How were your shakes?



Your comments are the best part of this blog for me.
I LOVE hearing from you!