Thursday, March 28, 2013


Started the day off by going to Royal Palm trails. On the activities list there is a night walk of the trial so we wanted to see what it looked like in the daylight too. During the dry season (winter) this is the area that all wildlife gathers because of the source of plentiful water. In the parking lot we have to use covers for the car or the vultures would pick away at the roof of the car. After the walking the trail we have seen a ton of alligators and birds that no other trail will match this sightings. We went to two other trails, Pa-Hay-Okee and Mahogang Hammock, nothing but dry open fields and tree forest. The other half of the park we'll have to finish another day. We returned to the RV to eat dinner and to get ready for the night tour at Royal Palm. Tour started shortly after sunset and with a few safety tips from the park ranger with flashlight in hand we were off to find gators at night. To find a gator at night shines your flashlight and if you see a copper color it's a gators eyes looking back at you.  The nesting spot during the day was empty at night. A glance of the flashlight in the water and two copper eyes looking back was everywhere. Another great tour that is a must.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013


I'm back on the grid for a few days before we are back on the road. This is the best time to catch up on posting my adventures. I will spread them out so it's not too much at once.

Started the day off a little behind schedule, but the traffic was light and made up the time on the road. Took a break at Big Cypress NP to change drivers, it was now my turn. With the navigator on I felt comfortable. There is lot of construction on US 41 were they are making a bridge to allow fresh water to flow to the Everglades. The navigator lead us to a dead end, where we were unable to turn around. I had to unhook the car and the tow bar, while the wife turned the RV around in a driveway. The temperature was in the 90's and not a fun experience. Good thing I'm becoming a pro at hooking the car to the tow dolly. We re-routed the navigator and we were back on the road. About an hour later, we arrived at the Everglades NP visitor center. This is by far the hardest NP to get to. Usually we signboards, but the only one we saw was in front of prison ... nice! Park entry is $10, but we got a one year pass to all NP. With the temperature still in the 90's setting up the RV was brutal.  We ate lunch, a quick nap and then jumped in the car to get our barrings of the NP. First stop, visitor center. We got a list of actives the park holds so we could plan our five day stay. We will stay four days in Everglades NP and one day a trip to Key West, FL. We did not do a lot on the first day, but wait to see what we did on the other three days in the NP. The first active we went to was a night ranger talk at the campground amphitheater. It was every informative and gave us an idea what to expect the next few days. We got back to the RV around 10:00 pm and went to sleep.


Tuesday, March 19, 2013


For the next two weeks we will be off the grid. We will be on the road going to National Parks and dry camping with limited or no internet access so I will not be able to post to this blog. On a good note, when we get internet access I will have one BIG post... or I might split them into a few small post. While off the grid I will have to go old school by writing our adventures to paper so I can keep all the detail fresh.

We were hyped for this adventure, we wanted to see the ocean, the view, the lighthouse and even the National Wildlife Refuge. There is a $6 fee (on entry only) for two axle and $3 for each additional axle. As we started over the bridge to get on the island it was a beautiful view, the ocean a greenish blue with white sand beaches. Then came the nightmare. There was $2 an hour parking meter at almost every beach. You would guess that the $6 entry fee to island was enough. There is only one major road the runs through the two islands with only one way on and off. Along with the ratio of road to vehicles the drive was dreadful. If I knew then what I know now, I would have brought our bikes. If you ever go to Sanibel and Captiva Island I recommend bring your bike or renting ones to ride the island. The island is only 17 miles long and plenty of bike paths throughout for safe riding. Park at a public area like the bike rental shop, shopping areas, post office ect.. (free parking) and tour the island by bike. Just to get an idea from the farthest part of Captiva Island to the only exit off Sanibel Island is a 17 mile trip and it took us 2 1/2 hours to get off the island. Some of the things we did was stop by the lighthouse. Of all the lighthouse I have ever seen in the World, at first glance I was disappointed. Then, to find out it was built in 1884 and still standing today, style and design was not the importance, safety for ships was. We then drove to the National Wildlife Refuge to eat lunch. Sadly, there was no picnic tables, so we ate out packed lunch in the car before heading inside the building to look around. As we arrived there was a venomous wildlife education class. It was pretty educational and we both learned something new. They have educational topics along with videos every hour and are on a wide range of topics. There are also a lot of child friendly education exhibits. Highly recommended. There is a 4 mile wildlife trail you can take by car (with a small fee), but the rain put that idea to rest as we would not be able to see clearly or get out of the car to look around. The time we spent out of the car we had a good time, the 2 1/2 drive off the island not so much. If you every go the Islands, park in free parking, rent or bring your own bike and enjoy the whole day on the island.

Saturday, March 16, 2013


14 Mar
We made it back out to Big Cypress N PER, to complete the one thing we still wanted to do and that is a take an airboat ride. The first place we went to had almost a six hour wait for the 1/2 tour. They were booked with 1 and 2 hour tours. So, we headed down the road into the N PER and found Wootan's . They are the only airboat tour in the N PER as they were grandfathered in and no other company can tour the Park. Besides, airboat tour, they have swamp buggy and animal park. We only took the airboat tour and cost us only $30 for 1/2 tour for two people. That's how much the other place down the road wanted for just one person. Luckily for us they were booked and keep some money in our pocket for our next adventure. Our number was called (almost last) as other people got on the boat they went to the back or middle, so we got front row seats. As you would imagine, the airboat was noisy, but the ride was thrilling. I took a video of parts of the ride, but still having issues with loading it to the blog. I might have to get YouTube account, post the video and then add the link. The boat just glided across the water and the driver took sharp turns right alongside the trees that were covered in the swamps. We were able to see some alligators, one was about 9'. A hint I found out about alligators if you want to know how long they are. The distance from an alligators eyes to nostril in inches is how long the alligator is in feet. If your are ever in the Everglades area an airboat tour is a must.

Great, now we have to be on the look out for panthers too!

 Our tour driver

One of a few alligators we saw up close for the boat

Since we were in the Park the wife wanted to go back to the visitor center and the manatees one more time. They were there, behind the visitor center on the boardwalk. However, we took a detour and walked about the waterfront. They have picnic tables so I guess it's kind of safe... we were able to get a closer look. The water was cloudy, but you could still get a better view.

I had one more surprise before we headed back to the RV park, we stopped at Ten Thousand Island National Wildlife Refuge and walked the trail to see birds. I told you we are now bird watcher, or we are just getting old. We saw pink and white with flat beak tall birds (not a pro bird watcher... yet). A quick Google search and the birds is a Roseate Spoonbill. I have to start bringing my large zoom leans to get better  pictures of the birds. This is the closes I could zoom in on the regular leans. Not very good and would be laughed at the next bird watchers meeting. (Joking, we are not in a club...YET!)

We will pass thought Big Cypress N PER one more time as we head to Everglades NP next week. We did not want to stop in the RV while pulling the car, the parking areas are small. They do have RV parking, but cars are always parked there and no where for the RV to park.

15 Mar
It's our last Friday in Fort Myers, so we had to hit the farmers market one last time. We got our weekly fix of bread, fruit and vegetables for around $5. We then went shopping for supplies that we knew we needed for the road. As always, when you go shopping with a list that list gets bigger as you stay in the store longer.
I wanted a zero gravity chair since last summer, but the price was around $70 ~$100+. That's just too much for a chair. I said if I saw one for less than $50 I would get it. You guessed it, I found one for under $50, $45 to be exact. When the wife lays down in the chair she is too small to fit into the chair, she can't put it back up so she did not want one (she just uses mine now). The first thing I did after we get it back to the RV I took my afternoon nap.

16 Mar
I finally took a bike ride in the park. Nice, peaceful and quite ride with mother nature and early morning walkers and runner. The wife had a surprise for me, turned out to be a trip to the flea market. This one was bigger than last week. The down side lots of people selling the somethings.They were all business. No average Joe selling their personal stuff to make a buck. That is the kind of flea market I like to go to. I liked one of the alligator sign by the food court in the flea market. We still had a good day of walking and topped it off with ice cream cones (I still have a fist full of buy one get one free coupons). Back to the RV for an afternoon nap in my new chair.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013


We took a day trip to near by Big Cypress National Preserve. This National Preserve is in my National Park Passport were I got another stamp to add to the collection. While at the welcome center I was talking to a fellow NP stamp collector, and they had to add extra pages to their book. Instead of buying another book to add the stamp page, she went to Kinkos and had them print copies of just the stamp page for the region she needed. This idea I will use too and I need now for the National Capital page. The book only cam with 2 pages, that only 8 stamps. When I went to DC in 2011 we visited 9 sites. Our plan is when he hit DC again, get those 9 stamps and try to hit a couple more. I was looking on YouTube for National Park stamps and found out that there is a place that has all the National Park Stamps for DC in one place. All I have to do is visit the site and then go there to get all the stamps at one time instead of looking for the stamp or waiting in line to use it.  

... Back to Big Cypress National Preserve. We were driving on 41 and I remember what a friend told me to do. She said stop and look off the side of the road. We saw a picnic rest stop on 41 and pulled over and crossed the street. What did we see? Two gators just sitting in the water. Thank you Patti.

As we got further into Big Cypress were we saw more and larger gators along with birds and manatees. That's right, salt water animal in fresh waters. We saw the manatees behind the Welcome Center and I had to ask the park ranger how this could be. She replied that this is the farthest that salt water goes before meeting fresh water. That is why you can see both salt water (manatee) and fresh water (gators) in the same body of water. I tried to get pictures of the manatees, but only can get their snout coming out of the water. The gators is a different story we got a lot gator pictures... too many to post all of them.

We drove and stopped to look at gators and birds. We took a break and had a picnic. We watched each others back for gators to attack us.. luck for us none came. We continued to drive the loop looking for gators and birds. Be advised, that some of the road is unpaved. We have a HHR, and it was good enough for us. The down side by the end of the trip the car was covered in dirt. We thought only old people (no offense) are birds watchers, but somehow our bird picture collection is increasing. I think unconsciously we are become bird watchers, or we are getting older. Everglades National Park is near by and we will be going there in a few days. If you are in the area and have extra time I recommend that you stop by Big Cypress National Preserve and watch the video at Oasis Welcome Center to under stand how big of a roll Big Cypress plays in supporting Everglades National Park and check out the gators.

Eating lunch keeping my eyes open for gators

On our way out of Big Cypress we almost missed it a first, but we stopped and saw the smallest post office in the United State. Check out the hours of operations. Four hours a day, one and half hours on Saturday.