Tuesday, February 10, 2015

The Everglades! Swamps of Florida

I've never visited a place like the Everglades!
Tropical wetlands in the south of Florida booming with the strangest of wildlife, wildlife I'm certainly not used to since I'm from the MD, DC and VA area;)
It wasn't until 1823 that a British Surveyor and a Linguist named the wetlands of Florida the "Everglades" and the name appeared on maps.

The Everglades Alligator Farm in Florida City became our window into the world of the Everglades for the afternoon!  The farm was nice, my husband and I went with a few of our friends and enjoyed seeing the animals and getting on one of the famous Airboat tours that are so popular in the Everglades. 

The turtle pond was very sweet, I love turtles, the farm had them in all different sizes!  Some walked along the fence as others sunned themselves, posing on the rocks, the rest swam through the warm, shallow waters.

There was a solitary pond where the longest alligator I've ever seen waded in the shallow pool, he slyly kept his eyes on every one of the passersby, including myself as I nervously approached the fence to snap this close up picture of him.  I took it quick!!!

You'll also see many parrots and other birds as well as a panther, snakes and other reptiles from the area.

The Alligator breeding pond was fascinating!  Dozens of alligators sunning their cold blooded bodies on the sandy banks of the pond hissed and grunted for fresh meat and more of the warm sun bath they so enjoyed!  An alligator expert came out to feed them and educate us on the daily lives of these animals.  They moved so strangely, slithering in and out of position, climbing over one another to get to the eats, opening their mouths wide for the hope of a raw steak to get tossed in!  They were loud and snarling!  Needless to say, they scared me, I kept my distance!

There are even baby alligators, tweens and young adults!  They are seperated from the older alligators in smaller ponds.  There are special times of day when you can hold them!!!

A favorite pastime of the Everglades is the famous, absurdly loud Airboat tours!  These boats are extremely loud, headphones are available and I highly, highly recommend you take them!!!

Airboat tours start off slow, the boat will coast through the channels for tourists to search out wildlife.  You'll see alligators and birds mostly.  The alligators we saw were smaller, so do not fear:)

Be prepared to get wet!!!  The Airboat will gain speed and do complete 360 turns out in the shallow waters spraying everyone with water and flooding the bottom of the boat with every whip around!  Keep your feet up during these turns to keep your feet dry!  The water drains off and the Airboat will gain speed again through the sawgrass pushing waves out from the sides also spraying you with water, so don't wear your best outfit;)

Life in the Everglades is warm and wet!  It's the perfect environment for the blossoming life of plants and animals.  Sawgrass marshes make up most of the landscape, and in these marshes alligators will nest and dig deep holes with their nozzles and claws to fashion themselves ponds they can submerge themselves in during the dry season.  Alligator holes draw many animals to them for water supply during this time of year, and in turn, the alligators will eat the animals.  The circle of life! 

Can you spot these baby alligators in the brush???  Their muddy bodies blend in perfectly to their surroundings!  We saw quite a few alligators but at times the boat moves to quickly to capture them so keep your eyes pealed!!!  I was actually surprised and delighted that these pictures came out:)  You're also bound to see waterlilies, tropical trees, fish and other reptiles, so make sure you get a spot close to the edge of the boat!

Under the picnic area stands a 14 foot alligator skin of one of the biggest alligators ever to be seen in the area!!!  When you stand among it, even the biggest man would feel small!

After our trip to the farm we stopped by this charming fruit stand!  Robert is Here was the perfect pit-stop after our outing!  They had all things fresh, from tropical fruit smoothies and shakes to loose produce, raw sugar cane and flowers:)    

One of my musts, is an ice cold Coconut!!!  Here they have them, nestled in ice water buckets, ready to grab, scoop and drink!!!  I purchased fresh berries, my coconut and some key lime taffy to take home and share!

What a neat afternoon!  

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