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

Henry David Thoreau

Fun Days with good Friends

Thursday January 9 & Friday January 10, 2014
Myakka River State Park Site 77
Sarasota, Florida






Not sure what we really did with most of the day but in the afternoon we biked about 2.5 miles down the road from our campsite in the Palmetto Ridge Campground to Bill and Nancy’s campsite in the Big Flats Campground.

On the way we stop at a point where the river comes close to the road to see the beautiful roseate spoonbills. I’m not sure who the ducks are along side the roseates, perhaps Judy can tell us.





Further along, beside the bridge, we see the alligators lazing along the bank.  The wildlife doesn’t seem to be as abundant this year as last year when we were here but there is still plenty to see.











The weather has been warmer for the last few days so we are able to sit out around their picnic table and  chat for a while.  Then we play a few games of Sequence.  It’s been a long time since David and I have played it even though it is a game we have in our coach.  We haven’t played cards in ages either.  Somehow we don’t seem to have the time.  At first it was going to be Bill and I against Nancy and David but both David and Bill are serious about their games and Nancy and especially me, not so much.






So we play girls against the boys.   David gets right back into the swing of things but I  have more trouble scoping out the board and my hand and playing in a timely manner.  Poor Bill has to remind me it is my turn a couple of times.   The boys won the first game and although we didn’t notice it, Nancy and I won the second game and didn’t even know it.   It was really too funny that we just kept playing until Bill pointed out that we already had two sequences!  Now there’s a good sport!   What fun, although I think I was a bit of a trial for the boys. 








Bill and I are at the ranger station at 8am when it opens to get permits for a hike to Deep Hole which is in the Wilderness Preserve area of the park.  The limit per day of people allowed on the trail is 30 and you must have a permit signed by a ranger and a sticker on your car to park there.

We had done this hike once before a couple of years ago with our friends Gin and Syl but somehow took a wrong turn and never made it so this time we both had maps and directions so there would be no mistakes.


We have all found that the birds seem less abundant at Myakka this year than last and we are hoping that they all might be at Deep Hole.  And even if they aren’t, apparently there is a huge gathering of alligators there.



So at 10am we set out on what turns out to be an 8 mile hike in and back.   One bird that Myakka has in abundance all the time is vultures.  They keep the place nice and tidy and decorate the dead trees.





We haven’t been on the trail 10 minutes when Eagle eye Nancy (pun intended) spots a bald eagle in a tree.   Her spotting ability at great distances just amazes me.   She’s pointing it out to us all.  You can see the damage done along the edge of the trail by the feral hog population which despite serious efforts at control is still a real problem for the park







When we reach the end of the road, and come out in the clearing, the wide expanse and big sky is gorgeous.  The temperatures are warm and the over cast sky helps a great deal.





As we approach  the water, sure enough, this is where everybody is, vultures, alligators and birds of all kinds.  The alligators are the log looking things on the far left bank, over a hundred of them at least.





And then we notice on the edge of the water, ringing Deep Hole, are piles and piles of dead fish.  We speculate that perhaps they were killed by the very cold weather but that’s just a guess.  All of them are not dead yet so whatever happened, was very recent.   This isn’t going to be such a great place to visit in the next few days as they begin to rot.  I’m not sure even all these vultures can clean up this mess.  But thank goodness for them.










There are several kinds of catfish in the park and some of them are invasive species like the armored catfish.  Our fish identification skills aren’t good enough to tell if these were the natives or the invasives.   The catfish are the dark fish which are all clustered right next to the shore with what we think may be talapia, also an invasive species, behind them.  If you are a fisherman and know for sure what we are looking at please comment and let us know.





This seems very sad to me but it’s all part of nature’s plan and does benefit many species also here today.




David even found this crab crawling all over the dead fish.














Everyone is getting along fine.  The gators all seem fat and lethargic.








The birds are beautiful and we spend several hours here watching them and marveling over their numbers.   Flocks of white pelicans,  groups of wood storks,  black necked stilts and things I’ve never seen before like an osprey just standing in the middle of the water and two eagles standing on the edge.  




























After ooohing and ahhing and snapping and binocing, it is time for lunch.  We walk back up the road, where Bill finds us a great log beside the trail to the back side of Deep Hole.





After lunch, we walk around the back.  David is in the lead and sticks his head in an opening onto the hole.   Nancy and I could hear the huge splashing as the alligators hit the water when he surprises them.   He got a few pictures of it but was the only one to see it.  He had no idea they were right there.   You can see them up on all fours and heading out.









It doesn’t take long for things to settle back down. 














The gators are as thick in the water as on the land.  I wonder if you could just step across on their backs from one to the other.  HA!  RIGHT!






Nancy and I can’t get enough of it all.







Piles of gators, walking all over each other.   Out of my way they seem to say.







And we keep seeing eagles.  On our way to the lake, at the lake, by the water, in the trees.  We even think we are seeing a mature and an immature in the same tree.  They are a long way up there though.








Finally it really is time to go.  So after one last look around, we start back down the trail;.






What a great day with good friends. 
Nothing like sharing mutual joys!  
Thanks Bill and Nancy, we love hiking with you!!








  1. OMG! This is about the best ever ... glad they all played nice! I could just see you jumping back to back...

  2. ...sticks his head in an opening onto the hole. Nancy and I could hear the huge splashing as the alligators hit the water when he surprises them.

    seriously ... I mean... seriously

    I thought alligators didn't like surprises.... at least that's why they told me in the Everglades... and I said... nooooo problem.

    wth? BUT what an adventure and, as always, gorgeous pictures... but really, seriously? sticks his head onto the hole? man

    1. HA! HA! Carolyn it wasn't a hole in the water, it was a hole in the bushes that the two pictures are shot through. Guess I should have made that more clear. I should have said he walked up to an opening in the surrounding vegetation and scared them away.

  3. What a great place to hike. Definitely goes on my to-see places. The fish die-off is sad. We've seen a few here at the pond, and when we asked, were told they always get a couple of dead floaters after a particularly cold spell.

  4. Alligators always look like they're smiling. And no wonder with all those dead fish to eat. That seems like an excessive die off. Not sure I'd get to close to either yet what a wonderful bunch of birds. Nice hike with friends.

  5. Wow - that was quite a day! Very cool! Love all the pictures!

  6. What an adventure you had today!! All those alligators, birds, eagles.And how special to have dear friends to enjoy all of it with you. by the way, Joe and I played Sequence this eve. He always wins, but I did win a couple.

  7. What a lot of alligators!!! Scary.....

  8. I hate to see all the dead fish. Maybe the rangers can shed some light on what caused it. It's such a shame, but a bonus for the birds and gators.

    I've seen a lot of gators in my day, but I don't think I've ever seen so many in one place, even in the Everglades. I'm not sure I would have liked surprising all those gators, but you sure did get some wonderful and unusual pictures.

  9. Wow, what a day. I'd never be that comfortable around so many gators so would love to do that adventure with the four of you. Can't believe you didn't see any snakes (I am not a fan) or maybe you did and just didn't mention it! Sounds like David and I would play games well together. You and Bill would just mess us up. Bill's family never EVER played a game together, so he just doesn't have that enjoyment factor. My family did and consequently, I play to win! LOL!

  10. What an amazing day!!! I would come back here just to do that hike again!!! You did a wonderful job describing an undescribable place!!! Wish I knew why so many alligators gather at one spot and tolerate each other the way they do?!?! David's alligator 'scare' picture is my favorite of the DAY:o)) The sound of them all hitting the water at the same time will be etched in my memory for a long, long time!!!

  11. Wow, scaring alligators glad that turned out okay otherwise sounds like a great day.

  12. I remember that hike from a couple of years ago. Glad you found Deep Hole this time. Wow that's a lot of gators! Just amazing!

  13. fish die offs like that are very likely due to "pond flipping" - read more about it here http://fiuc.net/water/pond-flipping/

    1. Thanks for the link Heyduke. This Deep Hole is 139' deep and it only got down 39 one night about 3 days before we visited.

  14. Wow, so many critters to observe! I probably would have taken thousands of pictures :-) Nice hike!

  15. What a great hike! It's always fun to hike with friends, and a real bonus to see all that wildlife.

  16. To answer your query, that's a pair of mottled ducks with a black-bellied whistling duck behind them. :)

  17. I am always amazed at how nature works and always has a way to clean up after itself. Sad that mankind can do the same to this wonderful planet!

    Glad you had a great time with Bill and Nancy, they are very fun to be with! :c)

  18. I was at Myakka one time in the late nineties & my Aunt Jean & I took the boat ride out around the lake. I just couldn't believe all the Alligators. They all looked well fed & it made me wonder what it was they were eating so much of.

  19. Just love those Gators, and David head into a log...LOL

  20. That is WILD! Your photos of the gators running, piled up, and walking across each other are amazing. Our stay at Myakka was b-o-r-i-n-g in comparison. Looks like we need to go back so that we can go on that hike! (p.s. have to admit, the gator photos are also a bit scary….)

  21. WOW! What an incredible wildlife viewing day! Perfection!

    1. What a lovely hike! I love the Roseates, alligators and eagles! So much life! The dead fish are a bit upsetting and I think you are right...that is going to STINK pretty soon :( I wonder what it was - perhaps the cold...so unfortunate :( But, no doubt the birds love it! Food for them :) A great cycle is nature.

  22. Wow, scaring alligators glad that turned out okay otherwise sounds like a very great day.

  23. Just clicked through to your blog from Al's. Your first three words...hiking, kayaking, biking caught my eye immediately. That sounds just like us!! Also, I see we have many of the same readers.

    We did a bike trip to Myakka a few years back when we were in FL for the winter. They were the first alligators we saw. I just love those big things. Since we are wintering in FL again this year, I guess we need to get back there and check it out. Looks like a nice hike for FL.

  24. Terrific pictures throughout this post, especially of all the gators. Why is it that they always seem to be smiling, and such wicked grins!


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