Tom says today, Saturday, might be the day! Remember that this trip is all about testing everything on the new Silvermine. We haven’t opened the windows yet! Today with the temperatures in the high 60’s we might open every window inside – just to see if they work!
Good morning Everglades!
Just a few miles from the entrance to the National Park is an Alligator Farm! This time we bit . . . but, I am not sure it was worth the $40 price we paid. It was not at all busy, and we got there just in time for the 10:00 “show.” It was not the alligator show. It was the other show! You know, the one where the man has a bunch of cloth bags laying around and chooses some dumb blonde to reach into the bag and pull out a . . . . SNAKE! The show goes on from there to bring out bigger and bigger snakes, and forcing some poor young girl-thing down front to hold a large boa. While she is just getting over freaking out – he pulls out his big Burmese python behind here back and drapes it around her shoulders. You have been warned – never go to an outdoor show at a reptile farm where a man has cloth bags laying around!
As for the Alligator show – it was 2 hours away, and we weren’t that impressed by the snake-show to hang around that long. We did a walk-thru of the entire “farm” – seeing the various ponds of gators -- in various sizes – and other various reptiles. All were completely motionless and lifeless! In my lifetime – that might be the last Alligator exhibit that I ever attend.
We came back to the Silvermine for lunch and then plotted an afternoon trip part way down the Southern Dixie Highway (#1) to enjoy some of the Keys. We did not go all the way to Key West, but enjoyed the drive and the view of the bit we did do. Then, back to the campground for a 3:00 hour-long nap in the sun at 68 degrees! We took a long walk around the campground and along a nature trail and returned hungry for ribs, corn-on-the-cob, and fresh fruit (purchased at a fruit market in the Keys!).
After supper we headed out to do the 7:30 night-walk at the visitor’s center. First we picked up Bob and Chuck (two men full-timing in a Winnebago) and offered them a ride – so they wouldn’t have to move their home! It was fully dark and the person-in-charge arrived to begin our orientation – turning off all lights while our eyes adjusted. While waiting, she played night-sounds from the swamp – crickets, bird-calls, pig-frogs, and alligators. With that, we stepped off down the trail (smooth/even/wide!), following our leader’s flashlight, which she kept aimed in the water. We were looking for the tell-tale red pinpricks that signaled an alligator’s eyes glowing in the water. Right off the bat we saw one, and he was slowly moving in his little pool of clear water. We stepped onto a boardwalk and followed that for .8 miles, with our leader stopping to point out objects. At one point we stopped, she turned her light off, and we LISTENED for a few minutes. It was a nice stroll in the dark, but we decided we would come back tomorrow morning to SEE it all.
By the way – the windows all work!
We went back to the visitor’s center first thing Sunday and did the Anhinga Trail boardwalk again -- able to take pictures of the swamp this time. Then we did the Gumbo Lingo trail that went into the “jungle” that had drastically been reshaped by Hurricane Andrew in 1992. Now, 16 years later it was still a mixture of torn-up underbrush and destroyed jungle canopy – all of which changed the ecology considerably. More recently it is hard to tell if Hurricane Irma had much did the effect on this part of the Everglades.
Walking on the boardwalk we met a ranger with a nametag Jon-Paul Haydocy. When asked, he said he was from Columbus – yes, Keven Haydocy of Haydocy Airstream was his father! We told him we were on our first trip with a new AS purchased from Haydocy. True Story!
We picked up Charlie Button and headed to the furthermost tip of the Everglades. Flamingo had been hit hard by the Hurricane and now, 4 months later, there was no gas or food available and lots of signs of re-construction. We packed a lunch and drove the 30 miles, stopping at some of the interest points and boardwalk trails along the way – many that did not allow dogs.
The Flamingo Point Visitor Center was open on a very limited basis – no restrooms and no exhibits. We found a picnic table in the sun (72 degrees!) and enjoyed our lunch. Afterwards, we drove through the campground which – SURPRISE—had electricity. It was very scrubby and was hit hard by the Hurricane, but was open for business. I can’t imagine camping in it in the summer!
The big thrill of the day was seeing our first crocodile (not alligator!) in the wilds. Tom pulled over to a boat launch ramp at Florida to get a water sample, and I looked out of my window and saw a crock laying on another boat ramp! I was able to circle behind the crock and walk out on a pier above him to get pictures . . . while Tom got my picture! He was absolutely still the whole time.
We drove back to the Silvermine, where we had left Charlie in charge and enjoyed an hour sitting outside in the 74 degrees. We had exhausted one of our propane tanks and Tom took it off the trailer to take in for a refill. In town, we got the propane, filled up the truck, and bought some surf & turf to fix for supper. We also made the decision to head out of the park and on to Fort Myers on the west coast to visit Bruce ands Melinda – who had just relocated there in the past week – Bruce was our salesman and is responsible for this new Silverine! We will be staying in the park that they are situated at tomorrow!
We don’t go camping any more . . . we go ‘streamin’ ! The “SIlvermine and His” is our 2016 23' Airstream, and ‘streamin’ is the name we use to describe our adventures. Stream along as we document everything from weekend trips to longer summer excursions and full-blown vacations. You know what they say: if you’re not in an Airstream – you’re just camping!
Tom & Ella Brown