Home > dogs, travel > Spring Break 2010 part 1 (home to everglades)

Spring Break 2010 part 1 (home to everglades)

Back from vacation today. My brother John came through town and picked me up. We left the Saturday before last in the morning and drove through the day. He brought his dogs Shadow (Australian Shepherd)  and Smokey (Australian Cattle Dog). It was rainy on day 1 so we didn’t really do anything else and got a Motel 6 room for the night.

We didn’t make too far and still had a long way to go so we decided to drive through the next night. We took a side trek to Russel Cave in NW Alabama. Its a federally managed archaeological site but we mostly used it as an excuse to get off the highway and into the woods for at least a bit.

The next morning found us in South Florida, a little punch drunk but none worse for the wear. We checked out sunrise in a pocket park at an early oil well. It was wet but there were a bunch of little deer in the distance. We drove into Big Cypress, stopping a couple of places to try to get info and see alligators. Eventually it warmed up enough for them to come out and I saw my first alligators.

We got a campsite at Monument Lake, pitched camp and relaxed a bit. Being a National Wildlife Refuge dogs were pretty limited, although with the thick layer of alligators we weren’t going to let them run around a lot on their own anyway. We ended up driving down a road out into the swamps, parking near Sweetwater Strand and hiking down the road. The Cypress were beautiful but it was sad as well as they were all pretty small. Apparently they got pretty ruthlessly cut in the 40s and we never saw a single big cypress in Big Cypress.

The Cypress stands were dense with birds and gators in incredible numbers. It added something to the hike seeing the big gators or hearing them splash into the water. Smokey got a little nervous but Shadow was oblivious to alligators.

We decided to just camp one day and move up our trip to the Keys so we could catch Lost at the Motel 6. One of the elevators were out so after routinely sneaking an extra dog into the room we finally got busted. John paid for 2 rooms so we could be legal but we decided to forgo our second day there.

So day 3 we left out of the hotel and drove down Highway 1 all the way to the end. It was rainy which thinned out the spring break crowds. Mostly just looked at the gulf and the ocean and all the islands. At Key West the sun came out and we walked around downtown. We went to the old Smokey Joes where Hemingway used to hang out and were going to hang out for a drink with an umbrella in it but we got tired of waiting and just left. We walked by Hemingway’s house and saw the giant Banyon Tree and we enjoyed the colorful rooster at the courthouse.

The drive back was more fun as the weather was better and we stopped off and walked a bit with the dogs. We got a room at a place that was pet friendly and sneeked the big dogs in without incident. The next morning we drove down to the Everglades. We checked out a pond where the black vultures were eating the rubber parts of peoples cars.

We camped at Flamingo campground which was pretty nice and really delved into the incredible complexity of life in the swamps. It was just so biologically rich you could literally just watch any area and a showcase of exotic animal life would descend their and put on a show. We speculated on how long you would have to be there before you became jaded to the spectacle and just went about your business blindly.

We kept stopping by the Marina because there had been manatee and crocodile sitings there. On one trip an Osprey flew overhead carrying a fish, we followed it and watched it closely as it sat on a branch. It called out and other Osprey came and it seemed like our Osprey with the fish was trying to date but a bigger Osprey hung out in the same tree like some kind of cock-blocker. Our first Osprey ended up just eating it. On the way out we saw a group of folks with cameras trained on a big Osprey nest. Sure enough there was a mama feeding her baby. We ended up seeing 4 Osprey with fish and countless others and became pretty familiar with their call.

At the visitor center there was a red shouldered hawk nest and we saw a number of those as well. I have had a thing for raptors especially hawks since this three week period of time some years ago when I saw a hawk take a rabbit, another grab up a squirrel, and a third narrowly miss a pigeon. All of these sitings were just driving around my normal business in the Monroe-Toledo are. Another notable raptor encounter happened in the Manistee national forest when i got repeatedly swooped by a pair of Goshawks, had me so spooked i was running blindly through the forest. Our other great Everglades raptor siting were swallow-tailed kites. They’re a really lovely bird and we watched them repeatedly. John got some great photos you can see at his picasa web.

Categories: dogs, travel
  1. No comments yet.
  1. No trackbacks yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: