We headed south from Osprey to
Everglade City and hooked up with fellow unimoggers Bill and Pam.
Bill has a ranch about 10 miles north of Everglade City, so the area is
quite remote. He also works as a guide at the Fakahatchee Strand
preserve. He wanted to show us the preserve area and take us into
the swamp which sounded cool.
The photos below are what we saw.
After we met them, we decided to
head into Everglade City (pop. 400) for some dinner. We followed
Bill and Pam in their 404 that has been converted to carry tourists on
his swampwalk. See www.swampwalk.com
We got to the restaurant, so I
could not resist taking a photo of our 1300 next to the 404.
Pam and Bill.
We had a nice dinner right on the
waterfront and then visited a local bar for some late night
frivolity. When we were done at the bar, we returned back to the
ranch for the night. Next morning, I spotted this cool stag horn
fern next to the camper.
The tree that hosted the stag horn
also had nice air plants.
In the patio area, I spotted this
interesting male lizard. They inflate the sac underneath their
neck during mating season to attract females.
The sac was brightly
colored. The sac inflates when they breath out, so normally the
sac is invisible. It took many shots to get the lizard in focus
while the sac was inflated.
We headed out to the Fakahatchee Strand in Bill's 404. Along the way, we spotted these vultures in the trees.
The strand has both open areas and
thick stands of cypress trees. The open areas were the result of
harvesting large amounts of cypress lumber during WWII. The clear
cut areas have become prairies that have 6-8 inches of water.
As we headed deeper into the
swamp, we spotted our first gator of the day. This one was quite
Since Bill is on the staff, he has
access to restricted areas, so we unlocked the barrier and drove
on. The brush on the sides of the trail was very thick.
This trail was a "spur" left over from the logging operations in WWII.
Kathleen in the back of the 404.
Most of the water along the trail had these small bubbles and ripples. This means the little fish that live there are actively eating the mosquito larvae. Amazingly, because of this, the deep swamp was free of most mosquitoes.
More gators. This was a big
one too, and he was sleeping on the trail in the sun. The noise
of the mog approaching woke him up.
Another big gator along the trail.
More gators sleeping in the sun.
The brush in the swamp areas was
very dense, nearly impassable.
Along the trail were several
hunting camps that were still in use. Since the area is now a
preserve, hunting is banned, but folks still stay in the cabins from
time to time. They were rustic but serviceable.
The water in the swamp actually
flows and was quite clear. The bigger open areas had plenty of
Dense, dense bushes.
A large cypress tree with the characteristic fluted trunk.
One of the many interesting air
plants we passed.
We spotted several hawks, but they
were very tough to shoot due to the dim light. The birds open
their beaks when it is hot to help them cool down.
Kathleen spotted this small gator
on our way out of the swamp. I tried to get closer for an
unobstructed shot, but when I got close, he bolted like a shot.
One of the many varieties of
orchids that are in the area. This one was close to Bill's ranch.
Not an orchid, but still a very
After our trip into the
Fakahatchee Strand swamp, we headed into Everglade City for an air boat
ride. Bill and Pam know EVERYBODY in town, so he hooked us up for
a short 1/2 hour ride.
The passages were lined with dense
mangrove trees that would make travel without a boat nearly
impossible. The trees effectively formed a wall at the water's
Incoming. Why is this gator
coming at us with such a purpose?
Oh no!! You aren't actually going to HAND FEED this beast are you?
Yes, he is.
Look at those teeth.
The fish was a free lunch.
For good or for bad, the guides feed the gators and the noise of the
air boat brings them running. If you were to fall overboard, you
would become the free lunch.
Interesting and entertaining, but
probably not all that smart. Eventually, the guide will be called
On the way back to the air boat
dock, we spotted this nice osprey.
On the return segment, several
pelicans landed on the boat for hand-outs.
A brown pelican. We could
almost see ourselves in the reflection in his eye. Almost, but
After the air boat ride, we went
to the Rod and Gun Club for a nice lunch. Outside, we spotted
this old Chevy pickup. My father had one just like this one.
When we finished lunch, we broke
camp and headed out east again. On US 41 east of Everglade City,
we spotted this big gator crossing the road. Initially, he was
headed in the opposite direction, but when he heard the mog, he
panicked, turned tail and headed back the way he came. Note that
he is nearly a full lane width long, so that would put him it about
10-12 feet. We did not get out of the cab to confront him.
We had a great time in Fakahatchee and the
'glades. There is much to see and it was very nice having a guide
that knew the area. Many thanks to Pam and Bill for hosting
us. When we were done in Everglade City, we headed east to
Homestead, FL. Our destination is still Key West.
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Photos and Text
Copyright Bill Caid 2010, all rights reserved.
For your enjoyment only, not for commercial use.