Sunday, February 21, 2010

Olympic Everglading

It's time for the Winter Olympics of 2010 and we are in the central Everglades at Everglades City- so what else was I gonna call it? Everglades Isle RV is a beautiful campground resort which is still largely undiscovered. We pretty much have the place to ourselves. There are a few others here but not enough so that the club house facilities can be fully open- but that's OK with us as we, for the most part, don't need them anyway.

The cold that we have been writing about pretty much non stop for the two months that we spent in the Keys persisted for much but not all of our first week here. For the moment, things have warmed up and hopefully they will hold but I'm not gonna bet on that all things considered. The camp hosts apologized for the look of the place (something out of their control) because many of the trees, even the usually lush green coconut trees are entirely brown from the extended periods of cold, frost, even freeze. Looks like most of them will come back, but surely not all, as Florida and its inhabitants, human and other wise- are not used to this kind of rude treatment from Mother Nature.

The coco below is a good example of what I'm talking about:

Still, the place is very pretty. The view of life along a waterway is always fascinating and intriguing and always offers something new to see- if only how differently things look as the light changes throughout the day.

But this is the time of the Olympics. Of pushing capabilities to the extreme so off we went deep into the Glades looking for the Fakahatchee Strand. If you're an avid reader and you want to get an excellent word picture of the Glades, may I suggest a book called The Orchid Thief by Susan Orlean. You'll find it in the true crimes section of your book store or library. An excellent read, it is a look at the Glades at a time when Florida developers were carving up the swamp to make way for houses and people, especially in the SW of Florida around Fort Myers, Cape Coral, where we lived for a number of years. The pressures Man puts on Nature is a theme that runs through the text and I think you'll find it of interest without feeling like anyone is lecturing you. Passions for orchids, which we quite understand, is a primary theme as well. The book is set largely in The Fakahatchee Strand of the Everglades.

The Fakahatchee Strand has several places where you can access the Glades through its portals. We will surely enter elsewhere, but for our first foray we entered beside The Miccosukee Indian Village on Rt 41. This venue is more easily accessible to travelers who don't want to go to deep into the Glades to start out. The Everglades are at the same time tempting and scary. Beautiful in a raw sort of way but with the caviat of gators and snakes and spiders and things that go bump not only in the night but just maybe also during the daylight. We walked about a half mile in ...and back, staying dry on a path and a boardwalk. There is a guided tour where you walk THROUGH the swamp in waist deep water with a thrasher walking stick, with low to no water visibility. Not sure I'm up for that just yet, but I'm thinking on it!

You never know where to look in the Glades so you just walk slowly and watch for movement of any kind. We saw big gators in the think brush. Red Shoulder Hawks. A squirrel who boldly dared to frolic below the hawk in the thicket below the hawk- thought I would get a once in a lifetime shot of a hawk taking a squirrel but that little guy knew darn well that the hawk could not get at him in the thick vegetation and he chattered and nagged the hawk until he flew away in disgust. We saw some white-tail deer that were smaller than the Key Deer we showed you a while back. In the thick brush they were very hard to see and nigh on impossible to photograph but I did what I could. Fish. Birds. Terrestrial plants and Epiphytes. Cypress trees and cypress knees and Strangler Figs that won some and lost some in the battle with their host trees. Mosses and ferns, lichens and fungi, orchids and hollow logs that could be hiding everything and anything.

Some of these but not all will appear in this post's slide show. It starts with our view around the old campsite, travels through the Strand, then finishes with sunset and nightfall back "home." Enjoy:

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