Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Shark Valley

As I mentioned in my last post, we recently took a vacation, and it was to a warm spot. Looking out the window at many inches of snow and thinking about a temperature that freezes your nose hairs by the time you get into the truck makes me want to go back to that warm spot. So here's the return, at least a visit of the memories. After a day and a half of travel that included two planes, we arrived in Miami, Florida.
The next day we gathered with family and headed to the Everglades. We wanted to visit Shark Valley, which is in the middle of the river of grass. It is also known for having a lot of alligators, and bicycle riding is a good way to see them up close.

I think this alligator is grinning at my brother, daring him to get closer! Alligators can move at 25-30 mph for short distances. I'm not sure how fast my brother can move.

Some of our group took the two-hour tram ride on the 15-mile loop. The rest of us biked seven miles to the tower and back. It was very warm and humid, but it was flat, so that made the riding relatively easy.

The Everglades is known for its birds. It used to have even more birds, but although the numbers are fewer today, birds are still a frequent sight. Above is an anhinga, also called a snake bird because when it's swimming its body is mostly underwater and its protruding head looks like a snake. After it has been in the water, it often spreads its wings to dry.

We saw over a dozen gators right next to the paved path. Desert Girl was quite concerned, but she felt safe in the bike seat.

This trail near the tower was closed due to high water. A peek down it made it seem quite wild, with many gators hanging out, waiting for a tourist who didn't follow the signs.

We finally got to the tower (in about an hour), and it felt good to get off the bikes and stretch our legs.

A white ibis was busy eating in the wetlands.

The tower is quite high, giving a great vantage point to see more of the Everglades. Coming from a mountainous area, it felt really strange to be in such a flat place.

The sawgrass stretched out as far as the eye could see, with little islands of trees where the elevation gained a few inches. Lending more drama to the scene were big storm clouds, which built every day we were in Florida.

A very tame cormorant sat on the railing the whole time we were on the tower. It even stayed when the tram arrived, with about 50 people all coming up to the tower at the same time.

I'd say that the view was worth hanging out for!

The way back was rather uneventful, with more beautiful birds and plenty of gators. We were fortunately spared mosquitoes--I didn't get a single bite the entire trip.

Even though it was winter, we still saw a few flowers blooming.

This tricolored heron (I think that's what it is) was not bothered by people and continued on its hunt for more food.

I had not been to the Everglades for 12 years, and it sure felt good to be back for a quick visit. I'd like to go back again some day and do some kayaking among the mangrove islands. It is such a fascinating place, and such a different ecosystem than anything else in the U.S.

Next up: more trip memories. Maybe they'll make you feel a little warmer too!


tourareas said...

Thanks for your grateful informations, am working in Tourism Website ,
so it will be a better information’s for me. Try to post best informations like this always

jhami said...

Yeah! Looking at your photos makes it feel like I'm there too. Looking forward to seeing your other adventures. Great photos, as always.

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