My only past exposure to the Everglades was back in maybe 1954, and I remember and Indian fellow wrestling an alligator and a carved coconut head that I brought home along with Butch’s rubber alligator. So you can understand why our trip to Everglades City came with high anticipation on my part.
We stayed at the Ivy Inn, a bed and breakfast that catered to adventure seekers like Nita and me. Everglades City is a city of 480 hardy residents who make their living one way or another off the swamps and believe it or not there are no Alligator Wrestlers in the group; sounds like an employment opportunity. It is however the home of the Everglades National Park Visitors Center and the launching point for fishing, boating, kayaking and hiking in the Everglades.
The Ivy Inn is run much like a Eco Camp with both boarding house and motel accommodations, we opted for the motel arrangement; Nita wasn’t warm to the idea of sharing a bathroom with 20 other woman. Sounded like college to me. Our first adventure was on an Air Boat Tour; a flat boat with 4 to 6 passengers and a driver with a eight cylinder engine and a airplane propeller pouching it across the water.
We started out with our first alligator spotting, then a few water birds and then it was all about the “Air Boat Ride”. It moves through the narrow channels between the Mangroves at 20 to 40 mph and handled much like a dirt track race care. The engine was so loud that we had to wear ear sound suppressors. It was all about the ride, which was a bit of a disappointment for Nita and I, we wanted more wildlife, but then what kind of wildlifewould hang around a boat puched by a deafening airplane engine? Silly me.
That eventing we went to Camellia’s,Everglade Cities best restaurant. We over dressed, it was a deck overlooking the river with small kitchen and half the people that were in town that night. Good Grouper and Crab Cakes and a long wait for our food, over an hour; but where else would you rather spend your evening in Everglade City, FL on a cool February night.
The next day started with a 10 mile bike ride out to Chokoloskee and back, a good breakfast, then a nature walk on one of the many boardwalks into the everglades. At one o’clock we met up with Cody our guide for a kayak tour into the glades. Being the only two that had signed up for this tour we had a private tour. Cody was extremely knowledgeable of the local floral and fona and gave us far more information then we could retain. He knew where every alligator would be found, they don’t move around all that much from day to day, being mostly a nocturnal hunter. We did come across a mother protecting her 12 baby gators, she started out with 40 and would most likely end up with as few as 4 surviving. It seems that as hard as she tries the birds and other mammals eat most of her offspring before they can fend for themselves. The tour exceeded my expectations and Nita and me are getting pretty good at handling a kayak.
The final evening was spent sampling Stone Crab; Everglades City is the Stone Crab Capital of the World. (All you can eat for $42.95) I opted
of 5 for $29.95 and I’m glad I did, I don’t see what all the fuss is about, I’d prefer Alaskan King Crab. Nita sample the Gator, no it does not taste like chicken.
We left Everglades City on Monday morning to cross the Tamiami Trail stopping at the Oasis Station where we saw even more gators, spoke with the informative rangers and then stopped at Clyde Butchers Photographic Studio, the Ansel Adams of the Everglades, a must stop if you’re in this area. I’d like to come back sometime to try the fishing but other then that I’ve done Everglades City.
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