Thursday January 23 & Friday Jan 24,2014
Flamingo Campground Site 3
Everglades National Park
We have come up to the northern end of the park to hike the Anhinga Trail and since our Verizon internet works here, I’m posting a couple of blogs from our first days in the Everglades. Future episodes will be posted when we leave Flamingo to return to Midway on Sunday February 2nd.
THURSDAY January 23
We set out from Midway for the easy drive down route 41 and past Robert is Here to the Everglades National Park. 104 miles. My kind of day.
Robert is home and doing a booming business. Luckily there is a BIG space along the road to park Winnona and Ruby. We pick up some of the most delicious tomatoes I have ever tasted and a giant bag of fresh kale among other things. Sure wish Robert was a little bit closer to the campground but he’s 40 miles away unfortunately. I’d like to stock up on fresh produce mid week. If you aren’t familiar with Robert, check out his story here.
Yup that’s Robert still running the corner market he began at age 6.
From Robert’s it is a straight shot down the park road, past the Northern Visitor’s Center and Long Pine Key campground to the very end of the road where we are assigned my favorite spot ever in the T Loop of Flamingo Campground, Site 3.
The T loop has electric but no water so after taking on a tank full of water we pull into the site – backwards.
Being the weirdos that we are, we pull in the opposite direction from everyone else but that means our view is the trees and greenery as well as a sliver of the bay rather than the rear end of every other RV in the campground. We also have a huge yard now. But Winnona does look like a “which one is different picture”. Does this make us unfriendly?
One of our neighbors must have had a rough day. We find him sound asleep on his picnic table. It is a beautiful day and I don’t blame him for preferring a nap outside, mattress, pillow and all, to one inside his Leisure Travel Van.
First on the agenda, after hooking up, is to bike down the Guy Bradley trail to the Visitor’s Center, get our first look at Florida Bay and see what the up coming programs will be.
The strong sun bleaches out my ability to show the true flamingo color of the visitor center.
Out in Florida Bay we can see that the White Pelicans have arrived. An afternoon paddle on the bay goes on our agenda.
On our first full day in the Everglades, I begin what always becomes a morning ritual here for me.
Up to see the sunrise over Florida Bay
Walk over to see the early birds on Eco Pond
Walk over the visitor center to get the day’s agenda.
It puts a good start on my 10,000 step day.
Dawn is a beautiful quiet time of day. No one else is out yet.
Looks like the clouds have left only a sliver of room for the sun.
It’s still early morning when I head over to Eco Pond hoping to see the dozens of birds who flew in each morning last time we were here this past February.
But no big crowds are here or come in. I wait quite a while enjoying the solitude and the beauty of the pond, Again I have it all to myself just as I had the sunrise over Florida Bay. But I am not totally alone. I walk around the pond and find a great egret and tri-colored heron.
Another great egret and a white ibis
Some black neck stilts with their red legs hidden in the water.
A group of what I think are blue winged teal
And one lone roseate spoonbill.
Egrets, heron, ibis hanging out together.
Before heading home for breakfast I stop off at the Visitor’s Center to photograph the weather, tides and schedule for the day. High 69. 15-20 mph winds, high tide is a whole 1.3 feet this morning and 2 feet this evening.
Based on the schedule, we head over to the visitor in the afternoon to hear about the manatee. I love manatee and didn’t really expect to see many down here but after the talk we walk over to the marina and sure enough there are two on each side of the dam separating the Florida Bay salt water and the buttonwood canal fresh water.
Surrounding the visitor’s center are a variety of large gorgeous trees including this mahogany with its enormous seeds.
We stay to hear the Croc Talk given by another ranger and learn again that crocodiles are found no where else in the United States other than the very southern tip of Florida. Crocodiles also have a more pointed snout than alligators and you can see not only their upper but also their lower teeth. I think this makes them look even more sinister. Maybe that’s why Captain Hook’s enemy was a crocodile and not an alligator. The marina has several crocs that hang out and after the talk, we take a walk over to see them and the osprey who has a nest just above the walkway where you can see the crocs.
It’s been a Fine day in Flamingo!
Where, by the way, there haven’t been any flamingos since the early part of the century but they are how what was the town got its name. The park are is located at the site of the former town, so it is called Flamingo too. And of course what other color for its visitor center than shocking pink? More about all of this after the Ranger Campfire program on the history of Flamingo later in the week.