After spending nearly 5 hours on a boat in the Everglades last week in search of wildlife such as alligators and great landscape photos of the Everglades and coming up basically empty, I decided to try another approach. I got up on Saturday morning and with my better half, we traveled across I-75 aka Alligator Alley on our way to Big Cypress National Preserve. I figured why just go on the outskirts of the Everglades when we can go into the heart of the Everglades.
The benefit of living where I do is that the outskirts of the Everglades are a mere 15 minutes away while a drive of about an hour can get me right into the heart of the Everglades. Two national parks make up the majority of the Everglades, Big Cypress National Preserve and Everglades National Park and both these parks are so close to me I feel blessed.
We drove across Alligator Alley on our way to Big Cypress National Preserve enjoying the views of the Everglades has to offer. Giant trees covered in moss, birds of all varieties and what else, water were all on full display on our journey. Half way into our drive we decided to take a back road and head down to the Tamiami Trail and head back home. Big Cypress National Park starts north of the Alligator Alley and ends on the north side of the Tamiami Trail where the Everglades National Park starts on the south side of the Tamiami Trail.
The main focus for this trip was to see wildlife etc. but I also was using this trip as a scouting trip as well. I have an idea for a personal project and I was scouting locations for this personal project. I still have some time as my personal project can only begin in the summer months which means the mosquitoes will get me before the pythons do.
We drove a bit on the Tamiami Trail and pulled off near this viewing platform that was on the side of the road. As we walked on the platform we saw some alligators in the distance and an abundance of birds in the trees and fishing along the water’s edge. I tried to photograph some of the alligators but they were hidden amongst the mangled trees and the dangling moss. As we were searching for some closer alligators an elderly couple who volunteer there approached us and let us know of a spot of the road where we could find alligators close by.
Excited by the prospects of seeing alligators up close we hastily proceeded down to the location given to us. Sure enough a few miles up the road we found the location just as the elderly couple had told us. We parked along with other cars and walked to the boardwalk along the water’s edge. The view was amazing. Giant alligators just a mere four feet from us, just basking in the winter sun’s warmth. We maybe saw 20 alligators of all shapes and sizes either swimming or relaxing.
This location was named the Oasis and it had a little trail we could walk along and being the brazen people that we are, we decided to venture out into the wilderness alone. So here we are walking I’m looking up with my camera while she is looking down on the ground. What could possibly go wrong?
So we walked a couple of miles and the details from here are a bit hazy. She wanted to turn right into an open field while I thought the trail still meandered ahead of us. Being the ever supportive woman that she is, she decided to follow me until I walked into a big area of pure, thick mud. Seeing this and figuring she was right about that earlier right turn I thought it was wise to turn back.
With her walking stick she manufactured out of some fallen tree branch she led us back to redemption. Of course I was still looking for interesting things to photograph until I saw her jump back. At our feet, a giant black snake slithered back into the brush. Now I can handle blood and guts, but will scream and runaway like a little school girl at the sight of a snake. She made it point to tell me to lets quickly get out of here.
On our way out from our short trip into the depths of the Everglades we came across two groups of men walking in, looking like they had some plans to have an extended stay in there. The second group came in with machetes and these poles for grabbing the invasive pythons that have run a muck in the Everglades. We figured they were part of the program Florida is having for the month where people can hunt pythons and collect cash rewards for the most pythons captured/killed and for the biggest python caught.
We quickly made it back to the truck where we felt it might be best to see the rest of the Big Cypress National Preserve from the cozy confines of inside my truck. I’ll be back next time, more prepared for the elements. I just hope there are no snakes around because, well you know.