Monday we went to Fort Myers Beach, got back yesterday. We got a great deal on a Whyndom Hotel stay so we went. Fort Myers beach is a place, yes they do have a beach, but it is a barrier island right off the coast of Fort Myers. It is about 6 miles long and about 1/2 mile wide. There is one main road, with a few side streets to the coast side, but the Gulf side is nothing but Condo’s and Hotel’s. We had a good time, it was close to 80 degrees both Tuesday and Wednesday. We walked the beach a total of 7.5 miles on Tuesday and about the same on Wednesday. We found a lot of really neat shells this time. We even got out there on Wednesday at 7 am looking for the real big ones, but people were already there looking. Anyway it was a fun time. Wednesday in the afternoon they were clearing the beach getting ready for the big storm coming in on Thursday. Thursday we left early and got back here to Cypress Trails Rv Resort about 11 or so. It didn’t start to rain or get windy till 2 pm. The winds here at the park were over 55 miles an hour and it rain very hard for a few hours. A tornado touched down about 15 miles away so we were spared. Some places the winds were over 70 miles an hour. Today Friday they expect just winds to be in the 40 miles an hour range. Then it will clear up and be clear for the next week or so ,with temps, in the low 80’s. Pics below are of the shells we found


Sand dollars were all over the beach it was hard to find ones not chiped, but we found a good number of them.


The best shell we found is in the middle, it is a banded tulip.




Today we left Key Largo and headed north back to Fort Myers area. We are now at Cypress Trails Rv Resort. A high end park ,with all kinds of amenities, pool, cable shuffle board, game room etc, etc, etc.. Paved roads with side walks, and the spots are 30×70 long. I backed in pretty good. We got here about 2 pm and set up. Then we decided to go to where else but Walmart. Have to get some of our medications sorted out. Once we got there I said where is my phone. Ug Oh, yet put it on the back of the truck cover when we left the park, and it’s gone, lost vanished. Pee oeed me right off. Oh well, not much I can do. Will see about getting another one soon. We are here for a month until Jan 13. Hope to have a lot of fun here. Pics below are of our spot and the park.





Today we were going to go snorkeling, but the wind and seas were to high, so we decided to rent a kayak for a couple of hours and go through there mangrove trails they have here at the park. It was a sunny day and it was a fun time, did not see much but the back of Melissa’s head most of the time. The water in the channels was about 8-9 feet deep. Wasn’t worried about alligators either as I have learned they do not like to crawl over the mangrove roots. We then took a 3 mile bike ride around the park and out on Route 1, the main drag here in the keys. They have a nice wide bike path following the road.





Went to Gator Park today in the Everglades. Went on a air boat tour. It lasted only about 25 minutes, but our guide explained a lot about the area and gators, and it was fun. There were 17 people on our boat, and Melissa and I were the only U. S. Citizens, (Sad). The air boat is powered by a 454 engine with 400 horsepower, and loud, had to wear earplugs. Our guide was Mike and he explained a lot of things to us. The water in the glades only gets about knee-deep and it takes one drop of water one year to travel the entire length to the Atlantic ocean. He also said you can walk in the glades as he has before and never see a gator. They are pretty much afraid of you when you are out in the open area, they think you are after them and they go and hide. Now if you provoke one or are in its nesting area that’s a different story. They do not nest in the vastness of the seagrass, they stay closer to the shallows area. The gators today were smaller than the ones we saw yesterday at the park, but still 6-7 feet long. We also saw a neat turtle and a few of the birds that are around.  As this is fresh water there are no crocodiles here. After the ride we went to the gator show where a guide told us more up close. Melissa even touched one. We then went back to Key Largo and had another early dinner. This Time at Mrs, Mac’s a local staple. Melissa wanted to try Key Lime pie, which they make. As I have had fish the last few days I just had my old standard of chicken tenders and fries. Melissa had a salad, and the pie. Pictures below show our day.



The boat, and Mike getting ready to seat us


The channel out to the seagrass


First gator, they have names for them but I forgot.


They were all sunning themselves today which they have to do to regulate there bodies.


Orange spotted turtle.


3 year olds taking a swim


5 footers laying around



The alligator show.IMG_2686

Melissa want him for dinner.


I was talking but no one was talking back ??


Dinner spot.


Today we went back to the park, the Northern end. As I mentioned there are few roads in the park, so you have to travel some to get to the visitor centers. Here at the northern end is where the slough is widest, about 40 miles or so. Remember that is a body of slow-moving water in a channel. It is restricted quite a bit here by the canals and roadway going east to west. We went to Shark valley visitor center.



Here there is a small roadway out 7 miles into the Everglades itself. It was built by an oil company for exploring for oil back in the 1950’s. You cannot drive this road, you walk, ride a bike which you can rent here, or take the tram ride. We arrived to late for the tram ride, which was a bummer. At the end of the road there is a large observation tower, it would have been neat to see the view from there. Anyway we took a 3 mile hike down the road, 1-1/2 miles each way. Along the way there is a 20 foot wide channel or so , Which was dug out to form the road. As it was sunny we were told there will be alligators sunning themselves. Yep there was, we saw about 17 gators all toll and a few nice birds, no snakes which a few people said they saw. All of the gators were no more than 10- 15 feet away right there. There also were a good number of people on bikes. After we did that we drove back to Key Largo and had a nice early supper at Evelyn’s restaurant


We each had a Mahi, Mahi (Dolphinfish, no relation to a dolphin) sandwich with fries. Mine was grilled and Melissa had her’s Blackened. It was mild and good. After that we picked up Cooper from Day care and came back home. It was a nice day all together, below are pics of the gators and other wildlife we saw. We also learned this fact the other day, you only find alligators, which have a rounded snout in fresh water, like the Everglades ,and crocodiles with a pointy snout are in salt water closer to the ocean.

IMG_2668The road we traveled.



IMG_2660IMG_2659This was big one, and did have me a little concerned. He was about 11 feet long



Alligator on the left




This one had babies around but could not find them.


A swimmer



Today we took a ride to the Everglades National park, about a 35 mile journey from where we are in Key Largo. We drove through Florida City to the visitor center which is in the south-east part of the park. After paying our $25.00 tariff fee(can’t wait till I am 62 1/2 so I can get the National park pass and get in for free) we drove to our first stop. As I mentioned before this is the only road down here and it is 38 miles long and ends at Flamingo, where there is a visitor center and large campground. This is where the Everglades stop and the water empties into Florida bay. The road, which had to be constructed over the glades, is one way each way and is dated. It is about 2 feet above sea level or so. In total we went to four stops and went about 25 miles on the road. Before I get to all that a little history.


All the water that goes into the glades comes from Lake Okeechobee, about 150 miles to the north .Over millenia and still today, it overflows every summer, and created what we know today as the Everglades. It moves very slowly and has over time created what they call a Slough , which means a slow-moving body of water in a shallow channel. This channel about 40 or 50 miles wide  at one time would let the water flow in the summer and dry out in the winter time. Before 1880 this area was deemed pretty much useless and  uninhabitable. But that all changes after 1880, man stepped in and started to make drainage ways ,dam up and dike the areas, and provide water for the many of thousands of people who were coming down here. This altered the glades and now the slough is only about 20 miles wide. Trivia, Most of Miami used to be under water before 1900. Anyway the glades have survived, back to our visit.


Map of the road we took.


Our first stop was Royal Palm, just inside the park, in the early 1900’s it was a county park. If you remember I said Miami was created after draining the glades, So was Florida City, which is the southern most city before you go to the keys. anyway as a park this area sits on what is called a Hammock. A Hammock is a raised area made of limestone and created when the glaciers moved on. They are not to be confused with Keys. Keys are formed out of living coral over many thousands of years. I.E. ,Key Largo, Key West etc. A hammock can be large or very small, but all have the same thing in common, they have trees on them ,mostly hardwoods and pines. There roots are very shallow and these areas are mostly dry. Around a Hammock are formed motes, areas of deeper water where the mangroves and other small rooted trees are. They bring in an abundance of sea life to them and help keep the water clean. Out in the slough we have the seagrass and all the other plants that like water


A walkway out to a Hammock


The interior of a hammock


This area is full of slash pine trees. Notice the area has been burned to get ride of all the lower vegetation, they do this all over the park so large fires don’t start.


The expanse of the slough area now mostly dry as it is winter here.


Small Hammocks


These are bald cypress, they look dead, but are dormant in the winter months here.


Back to Royal palm, which is a large Hammock. It used to be a park. At the time it was full of old growth palm trees, but in 1917 a large fire consumed most of the trees. The people of Florida city along with other important men, started campaigning to the federal government that this area along with a large portion of the Everglades should be protected and In 1947 it was. Royal palm is a very good place to see the slough in action ,as the water moves south toward Florida bay. Trivia, in 1960 they put a Niki base close to hear, which had a number of missiles aimed at Cuba. Shortly afetr it was operational they had a 10 day rain and it flooded the bays underground where the missles were. It was then shut down. Also it put Florida city on the may with all the workers, before that it was a hick town.

We took two walks here one out into the slough and one on the Hammock.IMG_2638

Some of the walkway on the Slough

IMG_2631An alligator?? I thought he was fake, Nope real about 10 feet long.

IMG_2635Another one sunning himself by the walkway, about 10 feet long

IMG_2636This one in the slough itself.

IMG_2634A big bird, don’t know what it was.IMG_2639A White Abis, these are all over the park.

IMG_2654Not sure??

IMG_2637Purple gallinue

We also took 3 other trails in the park, which all had different types of ecosystems to see.