Sunday, August 10, 2008

JOURNAL: Shark Valley, Everglades, FL

Next, we visited the Shark Valley Nation Park. There, we took a 2-hour guided tram tour of the Everglades. Our guide, Lisa, had 21 years experience and was incredibly knowledgeable. She was a really good at explaining the how's, why's, and history of the land, and she peppered the ride with stories and observations.

At the halfway point of our 13-mile tour, she parked the tram, and we had the chance to walk up to the observation tower. The structure was futuristic-looking, so simple and photogenic. We were able to look for miles and miles, or if we just look down, we were able to see a couple of large turtles swimming below us.

There was also a trail near the observation tower, and we didn't have to walk far to see a couple of alligators lounging across the path. We only stayed long enough to get a couple of pictures because the mosquitoes were fierce (our 100% deet wasn't doing the trick) then headed back to the tram. And before we left, I tried a piece of a ripe pond apple (a.k.a - alligator-apple) that someone had found.

On the straight road back, Lisa talked about baby alligators and the habits of mama alligators. As we passed by an alligator nest, she made point of its size -- that how it was built so tall was an indication that they predict a lot of rain/water

Someone then spotted a couple of deer not too far off. And they appeared to be just as interested/curious/suspicious of our tram...

Anyways, as we approached the end of the tour, Lisa mentions that there had been no [unprovoked] alligator attacks in the history of the park. The path that the tram takes is also open to bicyclers and hikers, and years ago a boy was unattended by his parents, and he crashed his bike into the water, and an alligator took him in his jaws; help was received in time, and she is happy to tell us that that little boy is now beginning his first year in college.

Overall, the open-air tour was a nice choice. I'm not sure how much I actually remembered, it was still very educational and taking in the natural landscape was refreshing. There were no bells or whistles, but it was a worth-while trip.

Next: Loop Road

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