I live here in Florida, but guess what?
For me the closest I have ever come to the Everglades is driving through Alligator Alley. The highway that is the route between Naples and Fort Lauderdale gives you only a glimpse of what I was about to experience. But thanks to my husband Kevin having a business convention on Marco Island, seeing the true Everglades was going to become a reality.
A private tour we hired picked four of us up at our hotel. We were driven around Marco Island and shown the environmental protection that happens all over the island to protect the Burrowing Owls. There are several locations with owl nests. They are so protected that if they are on a lot you have purchased, you can not build on it! For this reason the City of Marco Island marks the areas where the nests are located. The laws are very strict on Marco Island in regard to these owls.
On to the Everglades
Soon we were off on our hour drive road trip, deep into the Everglades. At least I think we were pretty deep, there was not much civilization after about ½ hour driving. As we pulled up to our destination I became a little hesitant. I have to tell you, the place look like something out a of movie. You know what I mean, old fashion looking store with airboats sitting on the water. Oh and lets not forget all the alligator skulls and alligator skins hanging around. We are instructed on where to sit on the air boat and given our noice cancelling headphones. Kevin and I have the front row, at this time I was not sure if this was a good thing or not.
We are off..
Our driver was a really nice man, who has lived all his life in the Everglades. He was able to point out and inform us on different aspects of what we were getting to experience. The ride on the air boat was a little noisy but the headphones helped a lot. The scenery we experienced was just stunning. I really had no idea on how beautiful and peaceful it would be deep in the Everglades. You get a sense of being just lost in nature. The reflections on the water of the mangroves, the blue sky and the greenery are just memorizing. We toured for about an hour, speeding through spots to have some fun and going slow to take it all in.
Back to the Docks
All too soon and our ride was over. We have now reached the docks and storefront. Now comes the part I did not know was part of the tour. Holding an alligator yourself. In reality I was not thrilled to do this, as can be seen in the photo. I basically just wanted the little guy out of my hands and as quick as possible. But all in all, I was happy to get three items off my bucketlist at one time; airboat ride, Everglades tour and hold an alligator. Okay, so the last one was really not on my bucketlist, but I added it!
EXPERIENCE IT YOURSELF WITH THIS SMALL VIDEO I TOOK:
Here are 8 interesting facts:
- The Everglades cover 1.5 million acres in south Florida
- There are several different animals that make the Everglades their home: Florida Panther, Leatherback Turtle, West Indian Manatee, White Tail Deer, Raccoons, Opossum, Skunk, Bobcat, several species of birds. Of course, we can’t forget Alligators and the American Crocodile!
- There are only 100 Florida Panthers left, they are on the endangered species list
- Florida Everglades are actually a small-moving river, not a swamp
- Native Americans call the area Pahayokee, “grassy waters”
- Sawgrass in the Everglades has razor-edged blades of grass. They are so sharp that they can cut through your clothes!
- It is the only place in the world that the American Alligator and the American Crocodile co-exist.
- Many Floridians depend on the Everglades for their water supply