Wednesday, February 20, 2008
Camping in the Everglades. Palm trees. Red mangrove hammocks. The last three days have been sunny, warm, and humid. Lots of stars at night, including a bright half-moon.
We canoed at Nine Mile Pond and saw alligators sunning themselves alongside the bank. One alligator swam pretty close to us; the ranger knocked her paddle on the side of her kayak. We all back paddled away pretty fast. But we enjoyed every moment, paddling through mangrove tunnels into open marshy areas, surprising great blue herons, wood storks and the rarer roseate spoonbill.
On our ranger-guided bird walk, we saw 27 different species of birds and several large osprey nests (see today’s photo). Since birds nest in the early spring, we were treated to the sight of fledglings clamoring for breakfast. One large white-barked tree, the gumbo limbo, excretes a bug-drawing sap that then attracts warblers, woodpeckers, mockingbirds and starlings.
This last week, far from cities, freeway traffic, internet, and even cell phones, daily newspapers, and hot showers, we can enjoy watching a red-headed woodpecker chomp his way up a palm tree. Our tent is holding up well, though one pole remains fragile, and when the wind blows, our tent has an awkward stance.
Still, some 160 days on the road, everything has its place in our car, and we’re beginning to think of the trip home, next stop, one month in New Orleans, then back up to Philadelphia by May, and across the Great Plain to the Pacific Northwest and two months in Spokane (July and August).