Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Everglades City to the Florida Keys

Airboats are a common sight in South Florida--we have four wheelers in Georgia--but near the Everglades, it's impossible to get around off-road without these.
In the Ten Thousand Islands between Marco and the Keys, this is what it looks like. It's desolation to some people, but I love the unspoiled beauty of it all, even if it is mostly mangrove islands! (I was surprised that the water was darker from the tanin of the decomposing mangrove leaves, but it was still so pretty)

I highly recommend any boat trip to this area! We saw osprey and manatees and dolphins up close in their natural habitat (no American croc or alligator sightings--but I grew up with alligators in my back yard so I've seen plenty of those) and being off-season, we were mostly alone in this beautiful place. I loved every second of it!

(The Calusa preceded the Seminoles and other tribes in this area, and their history is very interesting)

I never tire of seeing the playful dolphins romping around...they are so friendly, and came up to visit us like old friends! We got to see manatees come up out of the water near the boat...which they rarely do--they are hard to see for the most part.

I hated saying goodbye to my dolphin friends, but I know I'll be back, 'cuz I really feel at home here! This is a harsh place with the bugs and the isolation and the heat, but it reminds me of what FL was like when I moved here as a little girl.

In Everglades City you find the historic Rod & Gun Club (a landmark used in several books I had just read by Carl Hiassen and Randy Wayne White) which apparently was THE place to be (probably the ONLY place) back in the day.

They have lined the entry with every article ever written about the area, the most unusual being about the Everglades version of Bigfoot: the Skunk Ape! (hey, it gets boring around here off season)

This place really has a nostalgic and tropical lodge-y feel to it....and I loved the fabulous antique mirrors and taxidermy.

And this carved iron baptismal (I thought it was a fish tank, but the owners said they were positive it was baptismal--although I have since been informed it is definitely an aquarium??) was really cool with with the shells and sea stuff in it.

Looking out the back door to the inlet and docks, you see an occasional airboat go by, and it puts you in a wonderful laid-back mode!
We ate lunch out on the patio (might as well--there is no air-conditioning here!) and had the day's fresh caught fish---I have never had pompano, but it was FABULOUS!

(this all reminded me of my sister and how she used to have a commercial boat and catch and sell her fish along the West coast, North of here-she even built her own houseboats and lived aboard--until laws were passed to make this impossible)

From here I went on alone to see the Keys. (I can't believe I have never been down here, and lived in FL 35 years!)

This part of the trip--I was to later find out (after the L-O-N-G drive down)--was pretty much hindered by the residual effects of the passing hurricane winds coming through--which created 4-7 foot seas--which prevented the boats going to the reefs--which prevented me from getting to go snorkeling--which is why I drove down there in the first place! (I did get some snorkeling in, but not on the reefs--darn it)

The above dead trees lining the road to Homestead is actually the prettier of the scenery along the East coast. I really thought it was just awful from Fort Lauderdale all the way to Islamorada, which is the only upper key I'll ever stay at next time.

I couldn't get a good picture showing how awesome the water is here, but it is extremely beautiful and crystal clear--really incredible--an aquamarine color that takes your breath away.

It certainly fueled my intent to come down here again really soon
(by plane or boat please) and plan it better (you really have to plan ahead and know where to stay and eat, and allow for the weather).

When that time comes, the first thing on my to-do list is to boat out to the Dry Tortugas and explore the fort and snorkel all day! (Maybe I will have my diving certif by then)


Angela said...

How beautiful!!

" SHABBY JUNK" said...

Beautiful! I go to Fla. every year. I have been from Destin to the Keys. Went to a indian tribes place in the everglades years ago. Destin is still my favorite place on earth. I live in a Dallas suburb in Texas. Love the bluegreen clear water.

bullie_mama said...

CUTE dolphins! How cool! Looks gorgeous there! It rained here all day long on Labor Day. Figures. I am living vicariously through all you fabulous bloggerettes!

Jan @ Struck by Serendipity said...

Wow, those dolphins got close!

Next time you visit the keys, you'll have to go skydiving in Key West. There's no better way to see the keys and truly appreciate their beauty!

Sweet Repose said...

And tell me again why I moved back to Iowa from Florida...what was I thinking!!!

Some day, I never say never!!!

Thanks for the tour...s

Nank said...

Are you sure that's a baptismal? I'm pretty sure it's a fish tank.

Kathy said...

LOVED this post! We are headed down to the keys in a couple of weeks. Hopefully no hurricanes. We've been many times and I love it. JUST love THE KEYS! You have got to go to the Dry Tortugas. You won't be sorry. It's truly my favorite place on earth. One of the best beaches in the world! - Kathy

Nank said...

The owners are wrong. Go to Google Images and google "antique aquarium". We have a shop here that has several and they are beautiful with fish in them. Just wanted you to know.

Nank said...

One more thing. Baptismals have saints and angels and such. Aquariums have fish and seashells.

countrycharisma said...

what a great trip! Sorry you didnt get to snokel the reefs. I went to the keys many years ago and love it. I didnt go as fas a key west, but loved the area and always wanted to go back. Your friends antique shop is really great too. How good that your friend moved her shop to your hometown. What a beautiful place!