Posted by: Calvin | November 6, 2007

Another Brilliant Day in Paradise

We had no plans on Sunday.  While out for breakfast, Fisherman said “Do you want to go out in the boat?”  Surely there were many more important things to do, like perhaps clean out my closet or sort through all of the old toys the boys do not play with any more to get them ready for some deserving charity.  While thinking of the should dos, Fisherman asked the boys if they wanted to go in the boat and they both said “Yes!”  I was clearly out numbered.  I suggested that we ask our neighbors to join us.  They are here at their vacation home from Scotland.  Staying with them are their sister and brother-in-law (respectively a Scot and a Brit).  When we got home from breakfast, I strolled across the street to see if they were also feeling spontaneous.  Indeed they were.  We agreed to meet at our boat an hour or so from then.  We packed a boat bag with boat clothes and the cooler with boat snacks and beverages.  Off we went. 

As Fisherman and I readied the boat we were approached by a very large alligator (easily 10 feet long with a proportionate girth).  It started at a distance and swam directly toward us.  The reptile positioned itself about 8 feet diagonally from the starboard stern of the boat with only its eyes and a small section of its back breaking the surface of the brackish water.  Fisherman in his usual manner paid it no mind and proceeded to climb back by the motor to do whatever task demanded his attention.  In a shrieking panicloving way I asked him to refrain from making himself gator bait.  Annoyed at his Yankee wife who clearly knows little of the hunting habits of alligators, he dutifully returned to the interior of the boat’s deck to patiently await (with tapping foot) when it would be okay for him to return to his tasks.  The gator was apparently annoyed also.  It soon dove down to greater depths and to who knows where.

Our friends arrived and be began our travels.  The day began with a slow float between the banks of mangroves that line the man-made Fakahatchee Canal, which divides the Collier Seminole State Park to the northwest from the Everglades National Park to the southeast.  At the beginning of the canal the water is brackish, meaning that it is part fresh water and part saltwater.  It is where the fresh water draining from the northward land runs south into the tidal flow of saltwater from the Gulf of Mexico.  It is a relatively small area of water where freshwater alligators cohabit with saltwater manatees. 

In the course of the outing, we found a pod of dolphin swimming in the bay near Everglades City.  The calf dolphins swam with their mothers and nannies.   Many came close to the boat to the delight our friends from across the pond.  We also saw a great variety of birds, many of which recenty returned to the area after mirating to milder climates.  The birds we saw included Great Blue Heron, Ibis, Egrets, Osprey, Sandpiper, Ahinga, Crows, Vultures and Kingfisher.  Some birds put on a show for us.  Hundreds of Sandpiper flocked to a small sandbar off of Round Key.  The sandbar is far from the shore so it appears that the birds are standing on the water.  As we slowly approached by boat they stood at attention, when we got closer they all flew off, circled several times then found another small nearby sandbar exposed by the low tide.  (The picture used as a header for this blog are the birds flying off the sandbar that day.)

Near Camp Lulu 3 Anhingas circled over the sea, randomly diving  into the water head first in hopes of catching one fish from a school of shiners swimming just below the surface.  3 Vultures found the perfect wind just above a patch of mangroves where they could glide in a circle without the need to flap their wings.  One of the many Great Blue Heron we saw that day led us down the canal toward the dock.  It would wait as we approached near the roots of the mangroves exposed by a late afternoon low tide.  When we neared within 100 feet it would fly out over the water to another waiting area further down the bank.  This pattern repeated 6 or 7 times until it retreated to a pass though the mangroves too shallow for our vessel.

It was so wonderful to share a favorite day trip with friends who have never experienced the wonder and awe of the 10,000 Islands.  The look on their faces made each animal and bird we saw seem more exotic and each panoramic view more vibrant.  The luscious landscape that lures us back time and again did not disappoint.  As declared by our British friend “It was a brilliant day, just brilliant!”

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Responses

  1. Sounds wonderful. It’s often hard to see how special the “ordinary” is, until we share it with someone for whom it is not “ordinary”.

  2. It sounds like a breathtaking day! I’m glad you were able to share it with your neighbors. Nothing like fresh eyes to help us see the “same old things” in a new light. Oh, and dolphins have nannies? That’s a term I’ve never heard.

  3. I’m jealous. I spent Sunday helping my mother with paperwork and then *driving* across those famed Everglades to come home to the wolves. Sounds like a spectacular day. Did you stop at City Seafood in Everglades City??

  4. We do a bit of boating in your area with my parents. It’s so beautiful! I’m glad you had a great time.


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