Thursday, July 3, 2008

We Survived The Everglades!

Everglades catfish. They were big, but not as big as the Alligators that came up to eat them.

Well, I'm back friends and thought I'd share a bit of the Florida experience with you. Funny, I picked up Time Magazine on my return and Page 9 even has a shot of the Everglades and a story on how the state of Florida has done its damnedest to preserve what is left. I'm here to tell you, it deserves saving. It is a treasure indeed. You won't find Mickey Mouse or Pluto, but you'll find the beauty of nature like you ain't never seen it before.

After arriving in Bradenton on the West Coast we were fortunate enough to have a wonderful Aunt and Uncle who invited us to stay with them for a few days. We were greeted by their own personal greeters: Coco and Pepe. I'll let you figure out which one's which. Every time we got out of the pool Pepe would bite Coco's ear, hang on him, nip at his body and then hump his leg. Good Lord. Poor baby. We had some terrific barbecue and some great laughs. We had a plan to make it happen and we did. I'm thankful for them. Oh and we had the good fortune to see my other Aunt who was visiting as well as my cousins. I'm grateful for all of them. I happened to catch a little Arrested Development in my down time and man that show is whacked but funny.

The Dizzy Peacock Deli, Bradenton, Florida.

My uncle and cousin are roofers in town there and often stop by this local sandwich shop for a little yum yum. I just love the name of this little gas and sip. It kills me!

This is the menu from the Beach House Restaurant at Bradenton Beach. Absolutely delicious fish. We tried a little flounder and some super grouper.

Bradenton Beach, Bradenton, Florida.

A storm came sweeping in while we relaxed outside. This is the calm before the storm and the skies begin to darken here. Lightning bolts follow. People were still swimming right up until the winds arrived.

They say the car is the safest place to be in a during lightning. It was really coming down and the wind was whipping. This was the biggest one we saw on the East Coast. Though, Naples had a mighty big one too, but we hit the hotel and laid low through that one. I tried to reach out and get my Aunt a Jelly donut but I was afraid for my life. In the end I get really wet and they were all out of jelly donuts. We love our Aunts.

Michelbob's Ribs. Naples, Florida.

This is hands down the best rib joint on the planet. They are the tastiest things ya ever had and they've won all kinds of recognition in Florida for having the best ribs and sauce. Outstanding. Looks like they also serve those catfish you saw from the Everglades. I wish I had a chance to try it.

Everglades City City Hall, Everglades City, Everglades, Florida.

Ummm, note the traffic. Yeah, there isn't any. This is about as close to a ghost town as cities get. Terrific looking City Hall though. In fact for such a small population it's one of the nicest I've ever seen. The One To Be Pitied begged me not to turn this into a road trip. At this point, I turned and said, "feelin' like a road trip! Yee Haw!"

The dizzy pelican [that would be a good name too]. These pelicans loved to travel on the swamp rats. We actually saw quite a few of them when we went out on the Naples Pier in Naples. They are just one of God's many beautiful creatures. Unfortunately I never did get a shot of that pier, but it's really cool and at sunset you can see the dolphins swimming.

This is a great shot of one of the waterways completely surrounded by Mangroves. We shot down inside of it and it felt like we were going 50 mph through the root system. If you look carefully you can see one of the swamp rats way in the distance.

These are gorgeous Mangroves. You could see their seed pods float all around the glades. They eventually anchor and take root. This plant life is essential to preserving Florida and protects it during hurricanes like Wilma.

More mangroves. I like mangroves. I like saying mangroves. It's cool.

This is one of the many alligators that pulled up out of the murky depths right next to the boat. You could touch them. We opted not to do so. The One To Be Pitied really didn't want to go on this journey and she was fairly terrified. The One To Be Pitied Jr. was in tears. At the end of it all, they actually loved it. You see there really is more to life in Florida than Disney World. They gave the whole adventure an A+ [well a B- from The One To Be Pitied only because she was frightened a little].

This is one of the local fisherman traps out in the Everglades set to catch those tasty Blue Crabs. The Captain swore by garlic butter and beer with them.
This is a closeup of the Blue Crabs and the big difference between them is the female claws have a reddish/orangish color while the males have blue. Close to where we picked these traps up we spotted remnants of an old railroad that once began development in the Everglades believe it or not.

We didn't actually see any Manatees, a.k.a. the Sea Cow. The population is thin. They have no natural enemies except for man. Sharks and Alligators don't bother them. Too big, but the blades from motorboats really do a number on these sweet creatures of the deep.
Scary Yellow Spider eating something, West Palm Beach, Florida.

You gotta love Florida wildlife. It can be big and it can be scary. This was outside the house and it was also interesting to note that the geckos seemed bigger than those found on the West Coast. There was an iguana on the sidewalk to boot.

This isn't my house. I wish it was, but it sure was nice to hang here for a few days. My apologies for not being completely steady with the camera. If you aren't already aware, Florida is the lightning capitol of the world. No joke. Lightning hit Florida wherever we were every single day. It is really a site to see and this was the water/wind storm that quickly ensued those mighty, dark clouds each afternoon. I loved it.

We had a great visit with my mom. She's the best and was super kind and generous as she always is. We love her.
All in all it was a great journey and to quote Spock, at times, "fascinating." The Everglades is one of those last bastions of untapped hope in maintaining mother nature's beauty. Remember, you can always click on the photos to really get up close on the details for each photo.

Okay folks, back to the science fiction...

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