I may be back in the frigid north, but my heart is still in the warm sunshine of Florida.
It’s not going to be much of a surprise when I tell you that the two highlights of my short visit to the sunny south both involved water. The first was a stroll on the beach at Sharky’s on The Pier in Venice. I had heard about the restaurant and its neighbouring pier over the years and so a visit of my own was warranted.
The water was surprisingly warm (southerners might have a different opinion on that one) considering how churned up it was from the wind storm a few days earlier. I wasn’t however warned that those waves were going to be unpredictable and occasionally outright rogue.
Let’s just say my capri pants were pretty well soaked for the drive home. Even more astonishing (at least it was to me) was the amount of sand that managed to insert itself in places it didn’t belong.
The next morning we drove down to the Everglades for two things on my To Do list – an airboat ride and viewing alligators. Riding an airboat on the Everglades has been on my wish list since watching the TV Show, Gentle Ben, in the late 60s. For me, it was a life both foreign and exotic.
I got my wish on both counts. Before we had even stepped on the boat, a huge alligator came over to pay us a visit. I was going to keep my distance, thank you very much.
Besides the driver, my sister and I were the only ones on the boat and we had a blast. I wish I could have taken photos of us flying over the river grass, but I was too busy just holding on. Hydroplaning around corners was both terrifying and exhilarating. As we skidded through the turns, I hoped that airboats could not be tipped over and was alarmed to later discover they can be!
If you’ve never been to the Everglades, I encourage you to add it to your adventure list. It is as interesting to learn about as it is to experience. I’m one of those people who thought it was simply a large swamp, but it’s actually a very slow moving river … 60 miles (97km) wide and 100 miles (160km) long.
It’s a massive wetland ecosystem, home to many animals – including both alligators and crocodiles.
I didn’t know that there was both a freshwater Everglade, which is home to the alligator and river grass, as well as a saltwater Everglade which is home to the American crocodile and the mangrove trees.
We were in the freshwater Everglades and there was no shortage of alligators to be found. Even after the millionth sighting, I was still bobbing with excitement.
One of the most surprising discoveries of the day though was that the Everglades is also home to panthers. The name of the Florida Panther Hockey Team is now starting to make more sense.
However, if there is going to be a sign advertising panthers, I’m going to expect to see a panther. Unfortunately, they were a no-show and I was majorly disappointed.