Shark Valley 2014..

Yesterday my DW and I went to the Shark Valley National Park in the Everglades. Here you are the visitor and the residents are free to roam. The residents are alligators, turtles and many, many types of birds.  Last year I visited this park by myself and wrote about riding a bike among the alligators.  We decided to ride the tram this year to have the experience of listening to the guide talk about the area and the animals. On a bike you can take as much time as you want, but you don’t have the guide to explain and point things out. If we go next year, we will ride bikes. We saw quite a few of the residents. I took quite a few pictures, some of which I will share at the end of this blog.

A few important things to keep in mind if you choose to visit this park.  The park is in the middle of nowhere. The park has a small parking lot that generally is full by 10 am. You can park on US 41 and walk the 200 yards into the park. I am not sure what they charge walk-ins. Cars are charged 10 dollars per car. The best months to see the alligators are December through April. Once the air gets hotter than the water, the alligators will spend more time in the water and less time along the road getting some sun. The sun will warm them up in the winter months.  Take the tram ride at least once.  The bike ride is a flat 15 mile loop with at least one of the directions into the wind. Judge the wind before heading out.

After the ride he had a burger at a Miccosukee Indian restaurant. We were not very adventurous and had cheeseburgers and fries. The food was fine for road food. There were quite a few competing air boat ride stands along US 41 during the drive. The Miami Beach Travel Guide has this page about what you can visit in the area. After our late lunch we drove back to the timeshare and caught the sunset.  Dinner was pizza at a local pizzeria that had 8 different craft beers on tap. We got to sample all of them. It was a pretty neat concept for a generic pizzeria. The food was fine, maybe a little heavy on the garlic.

Thanks for reading and enjoy the wildlife pictures..

Namaste

 

Where ya’ been, dude?..

Been, I’ve been. There and back in the last eight days of so. I’ve been dodging crazy people as I drive to work. I’ve been looking up at the sky and wondering when I moved to Scranton (not) and where the heck the sun has gone.

The last time we visited I wrote about attending three wakes, a funeral and a beer festival in one week. The next week, last week, was hell at work. If I was that hindu character (s) with the extra hands, I would still not have enough hands and hours at work.  Worked sucked, there is no other way to describe the week. By Wednesday night, I was a grouch at home. Come Thursday morning I was looking on the internet for sunshine, anywhere in the United States. I was on a mission to go where the weather suits my clothes.

My DW got Friday off and I called in sick (mental health day) and we headed south. Thursday night I bought two tickets to Tampa, Florida. The plane left at 8 am Friday morning and by 10:45 am we were in the 75 degrees weather enjoying some sunshine and humidity. I know, this summer I will be cursing that same humidity, but not last week. We picked up our rental car and headed west to Clearwater Beach.  There was quite a bit of traffic heading to the beach around lunch time Friday. I guess we were not the only people looking for some time in the sun.

We spent the afternoon at Sandy Key Park (on the beach). We walked, people watched, played in the water and took a nap on the beach.  After our beach afternoon we headed to the Westin in Tampa where we had a room reserved for the weekend. We ate dinner at Aqua in the Westin. The food was really good.  Tampa was under a boil water advisory Friday night into Sunday night due to a power outage at the water treatment plant. The hotel provided complimentary bottled water all weekend.

Saturday morning we went to Ybor City to walk around their Saturday Farmers Market. It turns out that Saturday was also the 10 annual Flan Festival. There was all kinds of food and booths set up in the area of the Farmers Market.  After we walked and ate our breakfast, we headed to Thonotosassa, Florida to rent canoes from Canoe Escape. We canoed for 4.5 miles on the Hillsborough River. We saw lots of alligators, lots of turtles and lots of birds. There are pictures and video from the trip. (Well of course there are pictures!)  The video can be found here in the You Tube link. The full folder of pictures can be found here in this Drop Box link

After our wildlife adventure we traveled to Tarpon Springs for a late lunch/early dinner.  We ate at Hellas Restaurant and Bakery.  The food was excellent.  Hellas is one of our favorite places to eat.  After dinner we headed back to the hotel in Tampa. We tried out the hot tub and pool. The hot tub was an intimate affair. Well, maybe affair is the wrong word. Intimate, it the right word to describe its size. If you went in with your significant other, the hot tub was the right size. If there were two couples in the hot tub, you would soon be friends. If there were younger children (under 10) in the hot tub, it was way too small. And the water was poorly filtered. We spent all of 5 minutes in the hot tub then went back up to our rooms for a hot shower. 

Saturday night was a few beers at the Bahama Breeze restaurant located about a half mile from our hotel.  We got back the room after midnight, soaking up as much of the humidity as we could. Sunday we were back on the plane for an 8 am flight back to Philadelphia.  We had a good time. Monday, back to work. I played lacrosse last night. I caught most of the passes thrown at me but scored no goals.

Thanks for reading!!

Here are a few pictures from the weekend. Enjoy!

Namaste