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

 

The drought is over..

I haven’t had the opportunity in quite a few weeks to write these words. I think the last time I scored a goal on a Monday night playing lacrosse was in early December. The college kids came home, the pace of the game changed. Then we were off for two weeks for the holidays. Back for a week then off to Florida for two weeks. Phew! But, I did score the last goal of the night tonight. Since we don’t keep score (officially), the last goals wins it, right?  Works for me.

Yesterday was the Super Bowl. Did you watch the game? We did, my DW and I. DS1 was at a friend’s house and DS2 and DS3 are away at their universities. Empty nesters watching the Super Bowl. We had wings (of course), deviled eggs, 6 layer dip from COSTCO, lime chips and shrimp cocktail. I ate a years worth of 6 layer dip last night. It’s a wonder that I could play lacrosse tonight.  The power outage last night was pretty well-timed, don’t you think? I am glad Baltimore won.

Upcoming events include:

We’re packing quite a bit into this short month!

Here are a few more random pictures from the last two weekes.  Enjoy!

Namaste

PS: Funny, the pictures all turned out to be of birds tonight..

Vacation Day 11..

Yo ho, ho..  A pirates life for me..  I am now a bachelor in Florida.  My DW and DS3 went home to the frozen (sub-frozen) north yesterday.  Me, I’m getting the maximum return for my timeshare dollars by staying until Sunday.  Right.  Day 11 was January 23, 2013.

Today’s adventure was to travel to the Shark Valley National Park in the Everglades.  I read about the park in a guide to South Florida bike rides. That guide can be found here.  They have a company in the park the rents bikes and runs a tram tour for people that don’t want to ride a bike. The park is in the Everglades, next to an Indian reservation.  The park has a flat, 15 mile loop trail that takes you out into the Everglades. The mid-point of the ride is an observation tower that allows for a 360 degree viewing of the Everglades. 

All good ideas, when viewed on a webpage.  The drive from Weston is about an hour. Most of the drive is through the Everglades. The State of Florida is doing quite a bit of road work on Route 41 which added nearly 20 minutes to the drive. It also seems from the last two days of driving, that controlling the water in the Everglades is big business in Florida. Dikes, dams, canals, locks, pumps, bridges and construction are all evident visiting this area.

The bikes that they rent are steel frame, one speed, back pedal to brake, type bikes.  The tires are about three inches wide and suited for riding on the sand. The loop trail is paved for its entire length. There are alligators along the loop trail. Lots of alligators. More than you would care to see. And, they are not in cages and neither are you! The alligators were mostly placid during my visit. I would ride by them and say hello, they would ignore me. I would stop the bike every now and then and take some pictures, they would ignore me.

The devil of the ride was the 15 to 20 mph wind out of the north that blew straight down the loop trail on the 7 mile journey back to the parking lot from the observation tower. The breeze kept the temperature down (mid 70’s) but with the steel frame, fat tire, single speed bike, the ride back was a challenge. I really missed my own bike that day. And, for all my carrying on, I really enjoyed the visit.

Instead of heading back east through the construction on Route 41, I decided to continue west toward Naples and pick up I 75 and take that road home. I saw more of the Everglades than I thought existed. Trees, canals, birds, indian villages, and more construction. I was happy to get to I 75 since the speed limit is 70 and the traffic was light.

After I got back to the timeshare I bought some fresh ravioli and sauce for dinner. I took a dip in the hot tub, cooked dinner and called it a day.

Here are some pictures and a video from my visit to the Shark Valley National Park. Enjoy!

Namaste