Saturday, March 31, 2012
10,000 miles to Maine, and then down to the very end of Florida, the furthest point in the continental U.S. from Bozeman that is possible, in a camper van that once left us stranded in Butte, and now we are finally headed home. Slowly. Florida has been fun and we have immensely enjoyed playing in the warm sunshine. On the way out of the Keys we stopped in the southern portion of the Everglades. We were happy to see that the mosquito level sign (reminiscent of our fire danger signs) at the entrance reported that the level was low. In our Montana brains, we had thought that the Everglades were nothing but swampland covered in gators. We were wrong. Though there are swampy sections, we mostly saw grasslands dotted here and there with stands of small trees. Somehow it reminded us of a miniature-scaled version of African savannah, although having never been there this assessment is probably completely wrong. We took a walk on classic national park style boardwalks on the Anhinga Trail through swampland. The amount of wildlife we viewed on this one walk was amazing. We saw loads of birds, anhingas, great blue herons, white egrets, white ibis, a Florida soft shell turtle laying eggs, red-stripe turtles swimming amongst schools of fish, and at least twenty alligators, including two babies. We were delighted by our deserted, long pine tree campground where we had more space than we had seen in about a month. I hadn't really realized how cramped I must have felt until we got there, nor that I must have missed non-ocean scenery. The following day, we drove to Flamingo over Coral Reef Pass with an elevation of 3 feet (no wonder the air seemed so thin), where we rented double kayaks and paddled up a canal where we saw two crocodiles lounging about and swallow-tailed kites and osprey soaring above. Amongst the docks there, we saw manatees hanging out, occasionally poking their heads out for a breath. We ended the day with a lovely walk to the ocean at sunset.