Everglades National Park

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March 23, 2017

It was only 36 miles to the next campground at the tip of Florida, Flamingo Campground, so we decided to go 12 miles back into town to get a few things. We hooked up and set out for Flamingo passing miles of dry prairie that looked like it should have lions, giraffes and zebras, but we saw nothing. There were strange little hills in the midst of the prairie. We passed a couple of trails, but with these mosquitoes, we weren’t walking any trails. I was unprepared, having left my bug suit and pants at home. They work great for this. 

We saw cars parked along the way, but couldn’t tell what they were doing. One fellow had obviously been for a big hike as he was soaking wet. I couldn’t imaging walking through The Everglades with all these mosquitoes, and I have seen too many shows on the Pythons and Anacondas that have escaped to the everglades and are now proliferating. Just in the news this week there was a story about a man losing a King Cobra. Crazy, just crazy! 

We stopped at a couple of places, but were convinced this was all a waste of time. It’s the Everglades. What did we expect? Then we turned on the road to Paurotis Pond. There were a couple of campers and several cars parked and a group of 6 were at a picnic table looking with binoculars at a bunch of white birds in the trees across the pond. I quickly grabbed the tripod and put my biggest lens on the camera. Actually it isn’t a very big lens. It’s a 70-200 that I put a 1.3 magnifier on. The resolution on the D800 Nikon is so great that I can crop and get pretty close. I lust for a 600mm lens, but probably would first choose the 200-400 that is just a great lens. The costs are prohibitive.

This pond was teeming with life. Fish were jumping everywhere. A red wing blackbird landed in a tree next to me. but the main attraction was the rookery, or nesting of storks, Roseate Spoonbills and a few others I was unfamiliar with. They were squawking and making a fuss while feeding their young or making nests. They would fly across the road to swampy marsh to feed and then come back. It took a while to figure out what was going on, but a nice man came up with his bird book, showing us what they were, but it was all a bit confusing with so much going on. A couple was there from Germany. Martha saw their RV with Germany written on it and asked how that worked. They shipped it over! Crazy you think? They said it cost about $4,000 to ship it on a cargo ship, but they flew over. The gentleman had investigated renting here, but that costs more then his shipping fee after a couple of weeks. They had been here since May and they were going home in May. I was so excited shooting pictures, I only got parts of the story. Martha had to fill me in later. They talked about the savings of staying in campgrounds vs. hotels. With our senior lifetime national park pass, two nights in this campground with electricity cost $30. You can cook all your meals just like you do at home, so this couple’s food costs were not great. They talked about being able to sleep in their own bed and not having to pack and unpack every day.

Soon enough Martha gave me the look and I knew it was time to go. Now we stopped at every place and at least looked, but we weren’t going to walk any trails. Too bad because one couple said one of the early hikes was amazing. I asked about mosquitoes, and they said they were terrible, but they lathered up with bug spray and went. Finally arriving at the campground, a very nice gentleman checked us in saying he and the mosquitoes welcomed us. As we set up, they weren’t bad, but we cooked and ate inside. Watching a young family set up a tent next door, we were happy to be in an Airstream. 

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