Everglades FL

The Everglades: South Florida — November 8 – 15 2003

Mander and I headed down to South Florida to pay a visit to her grandfather, Julian, her great aunt, Fran, my sis, Cheri, and to get our camp on in the Everglades for a bit. The gods of weather, however, had other plans for us. After a beautiful weekend the rains came. And the wind. And, believe it or not, even a tornado. Oh yes, it was ugly. Our first trip down from Miami to the ‘glades culminated with finding the area where we were to set up camp submerged.
Needless to day, the camping didn’t happen. Being troopers that we are (“The bugle sounds and the charge begins!”), we made the most of the situation.

First off, family time. Jerry and Mel try to figure out what the hell is wrong with Fran’s car.

Fran’s not altogether sure these boys know what the hell they’re doin’.

Left to right… standing: Mel, Fran, Birdy. Seated: The man, the myth; Jerry, Mander.
Oh.. the car? Turns out it’s long-dead alarm system magically regained the power of theft deterrence, and engaged it’s once dormant starter kill. Thankfully a visit was paid by smart man Mark Epstein, and he unearthed the issue. So much for them jumper cables, guys!

From Frans we took off to visit my sis and The Boys. Cheri’s gonna take a pic of Demanda taking a pic of us.

Happy brother and sister. Awww…

Cheri and Demanda.

Quick! Inconvenience the neighbors! We need a group shot!

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The Everglades: South Florida — November 8 – 15 2003

Back inside, The Boys are cold chillin’. That’s Cinnamon reclining roo-style, and Sugar the Slobber Machine comin’ atcha.

The flying nun.

Scratch observes the camera with a steely glare.
After hitting a particularly good I-talian resturant down the road from Cheri’s we took off back to Jerrys to crash. The next day we headed on down to our soon to be waterlogged and uninhabitable campsite in the Glades.

Rain rain rain rain rain. Dragonfly. Rain rain rain rain rain.
Right! So day one in the Everglades was a bust. The only wildlife we got to see consisted of observing the locals of Homestead in Denny’s. Did you know Denny’s has a veggieburger? Shockingly, it weren’t all that bad. I liked the oh-so bad for you but oh-so good onion straws they put on mine. Mander wasn’t thrilled with hers.
Another day, another attempt. Instead of heading to the extreme south we decided to trek west, and hit Shark Valley/Loop Road, which is a 15 mile road running through the heart of the Everglades. It’s closed off to all but foot and non-motorized bike traffic (except a damn tram that they take lazies on tours with).
Twas the bomb, Loop Road was. We biked it, taking over 4 hours due to all the things to see. It rained on us off and on, and looked pretty damn threatening at points. In the end all was good, as the weather kept people away and brought many animals out of hiding.

The Everglades, and either Snowy Egret or Great White Heron. I’m leaning towards the latter.

Charlotte, big as a saucer. Plenty of these about. Golden Orb Weaver.

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The Everglades: South Florida — November 8 – 15 2003

See? It’s Spiderific! Some advice; don’t spend all of your time looking down when trekking through the ‘glades. You might miss something. You might get a face full of arachnid. These guys webs are startlingly strong too; you’ll definitely know it if you stumble into one.

Doh! The first of what will (thankfully) be many alligators to come!

Chillin’. Trying to catch some rays in between all this damn rain.

Snakey snake! I’m in the midst of identifying this puppy, but I suspect we’ve got a young Kingsnake here. Banded watersnakes are similar, but the banding seems to profound on this guy. Either way, he’s a beaut. Props to Mander for spotting him!

Demanda pedals in Florida, the sunshine state.

The ‘glades. There’s some serious-ass rain action goin’ on out there.

Mander spots a ‘gator!

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The Everglades: South Florida — November 8 – 15 2003

Gator gator gator!

Goood lookin’! They came right up outta the water onto the sides of the loop, apparently in an attempt to catch some snatches of dry weather.

The tails on these babies are amazing! Somehow television doesn’t do ’em justice (like tv ever does anything justice).

Amanda cozies up to a juvenile. I was shocked to see her get so close!

Youdon’tseeme youdon’tseeme Youdon’tseeme… I’malog I’malog I’malog.

There’s a big lookout tower at the halfway point in the trail. We ditched the bikes and headed skyward to scope things out. Good timing, as the heaviest rain of our loop trek came as we went under cover of the tower.

Musta been big fun building this thing way out here.

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The Everglades: South Florida — November 8 – 15 2003

Very pretty, concrete aside.

The sky, however, ain’t so pretty. Familiar, but not pretty.

Down below a big puppy is maxin’ and relaxin’ on a downed tree.

Rainshower over, we head back down. Here’s a pic of part of the area where the above big dude was chillin’.

Red Shouldered Hawk, posing.

And another ‘gator!

As luck would have it, we came upon a pair of Everglades (White Tailed) deer. Thank goodness for the lack of park visitors!According to the NPS: “White-tailed deer are the same as those found throughout the eastern United States, but are smaller because they do not need an extra layer of fat to protect them from the winter cold.”

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The Everglades: South Florida — November 8 – 15 2003

We followed ’em from one hammock to another. They didn’t seem particularly worried about us, and let us get pretty darn close. Once they got to the second hammock they startled an alligator camped out in it and took off bounding through the water. Manda got some sweet pics of that action; we’ll be scanning ’em soon.

‘Nother little gator. Cain’t git enuff of ’em!

We saw a couple of Everglades Racers hangin’ out. This on S’ed up on me before cheesin’ it into the ‘glades. I grabbed his tail as he tried to take a powder, and the feisty boy doubled back on me. He was pretty skinny lookin’, but I only had Chex Mix to give him, and he wasn’t interested.

Above, a Turkey Vulture sits.

Man, them’s some sinuses! You can see right thru his nosey holes!

A Great Blue Heron; one of many we came upon. These birds get big.

And… the drive home. In the rain. In the traffic.
Let me tell you… those claims that Atlanta traffic is the worst in the country are bunk. Traffic here blows. The shit is bumper to bumper busy at all hours of the day and night. It’s nuts. People drivin’ with their lights off in the darkness, driving in two lanes at once, driving 40 on the highway… And there is no such thing as a ‘fast lane’ in South Florida. Nope. That left lane? Why, it’s absolutely kosher to drive a delivery truck 43 miles an hour in that lane, cell phone glued to the ear, cigarette a-danglin’ from the lips.Traffic in South Florida sucks.

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The Everglades: South Florida — November 8 – 15 2003

Back in the parking garage at Jerrys. This little guy sleeps in the same area every single night. His name is Caesar, and he is the master of his domain.

Another day an, lo and behold, more clouds and rain! Whoopie!
We decided to say “damn and heck” to the rain, and head down through the Everglades anyway. We stopped at a variety of places on the way through to our ultimate destination.

And found still more gators! It turned into a pretty nice day, and thus there were more people out and about than I would have preferred. This alligator hung out for a bit… and then a passel of loud larval humans showed up and she took a powder.

A liiitle closer….

She’s toothy!

Scrub’nstuff. HR Scrubnstuff.

Anna purty flower.

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The Everglades: South Florida — November 8 – 15 2003

I want a kayak… can ya spot the big puppy in this pic?

Here’s a hint. Amanda broke out the telephoto, so hopefully she’s got some tastier pics of this fella.

Big big big Lubber Grasshopper. Who knows how many of these you stroll by without even noticing.

Bustin’ loose with the mad antennae woggle.

American Bittern hiding in the sawgrass.

Nother goofy flower pic.

The mighty Gumbo Limbo tree! Supposedly you can use their leaves to make a tealike beverage.

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The Everglades: South Florida — November 8 – 15 2003

Swampy!

Here’s the lake we were originally supposed to camp near. Too late now!

Ain’t it weird, all the different environments that are in the ‘glades? This is the official ‘piney bit’.

And into the thickness…

Enough with the flowers already.

Mollusk Madness! This is a Liguus Tree Snail. He’s related to Gary. “Meow.”

Sigh. Cloudsnrain.

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The Everglades: South Florida — November 8 – 15 2003

Another Egret.

Demanda treks through a hammock.

I just thought this was a pretty cool pic.

Airplants and ferns abound.

Tropical, ain’t it.

Woohoo! Amanda spots a stunner! A corn snake? A rat snake? I’m not sure. The Everglades Rat is pretty, but more yellowy-orange. The color you see in this pic is accurate; he’s a brilliant red. A juvenile to be sure. Mander snapped some pics as well; hopefully hers will be better than mine. I’ll have to break out the old snake books to make a positive identification.

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The Everglades: South Florida — November 8 – 15 2003

We made to to Flamingo Lodge and Marina; last stop on the old road cutting through the ‘glades. Any further south and you’re submerged in Florida bay.There’s a big guy chillin’ around the marina. I assume it’s easy pickin’s for him to get scraps and yuck from the returning fisherman.Lazy bastard.

Cruddy picture of a White Ibis.

Flamingo was teaming with peoples… unacceptable! We left, and ran across this joint.

Ooooo the creepy trail.

Demanda is an anarchist. Stick it to the man!

Some interesting stuff beyond the No Trespassing sign. Couldn’t find a way into this structure.

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The Everglades: South Florida — November 8 – 15 2003

There’s a large waterway off to the right of the park, but the only way to even know it’s there is to traverse the illegal no-mans land.

Curiouser and Curiouser… The end of this tunnel is gated off, and above it is a houselike structure with a spanish tile roof. It’s strange back here. There’s a tunnel identical to this right next to it, but it’s been closed off with cinderblock and has a room built into it. We didn’t go into the room ’cause it looked like just the place to meet up with the ornery chupacabra. Besides, I’d left my headlamp in the truck.
This is obviously where the juvenile reprobates of Key Largo come to partay and swap STD’s like filthy M-Tv monkeys; they’ve left their mark in the form of graffiti addressing the traditional teenage dumbass topics; pot, penis size, gay rhetoric and oral hijinx.
Ahhh, to be a kid again.
No thanks.

Poisonwood. Not for licking.

The Fellatio Fern? Hmmm… kids; gotta love ’em.
No I don’t.
So there you go; that’s what I call ending on a high note! Despite the fact that camping was a wash we had a good time, and got to experience more than I had anticipated given the weather. We wound up staying a day later than we had originally planned, and we made the most of it by renting sea kayaks and paddle exploring the mangroves in and around John PenneKamp park. Unfortunately, like the boneheads we are, we left the waterproof storage gear at home, so we were unable to take a camera along for the ride. It was great fun regardless, and I’m mighty proud of Mander for braving the mangroves. It was nice and isolated, and we spent plenty of time with paddle in lap, pulling our way through tight little corridors in the trees, in search of whatever came our way. Frankly, I suspect that it was so amazing that Demanda just plumb forgot to be nervous.
Of course, no trip is without it’s disappointments; we didn’t encounter any venomous snakes, or any spoonbills. We also didn’t get to see a croc or a panther, but that’s probably asking too much anyway.Bottom line is, we love the Everglades, and are looking forward to coming back for more excitement.

Amanda’s pics continue:

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The Everglades – Manders Pictures :: November 8 – 15 2003 Part 1

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Quick! See if you can spot the baby gator in this pic!

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This should help. Can you look at the previous pic and find him now?

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The Everglades – Manders Pictures :: November 8 – 15 2003 Part 2

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The Everglades – Manders Pictures :: November 8 – 15 2003 Part 3/u>

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The Everglades – Manders Pictures :: November 8 – 15 2003 Part 4


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The Everglades – Manders Pictures :: November 8 – 15 2003 Part 5

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