glidin’ in the glades / and like lorne greene you know i get paid

26 Jul

It was only so long until some Beastie Boys lyrics became applicable to my wild bloggin’ lifestyle. And finally, a little over two months after the fact, my Sojourning through the South Segmented Series of Stylized Safariing has finally reached its geographic goal: Florida’s Everglades.

I considered making this post a third entry in my Sojourning through the South of Super Stylized Safariing AKA My Boyfriend is Wearing the Same Shirt Again Series, but thought I would leave that photo out, in case you find yourself tiring of blue plaid.

Unlike Lorne Greene, I don’t make much of a living as a graduate student; perhaps one day, my own li’l bonanza will roll through town. But as that day has not yet arrived, I didn’t truly get to glide through the ‘Glades, fan-boat style. Instead, we rented a canoe for some backwater exploring. This, in my mind, was a much better use of our time and money.

I spent my canoe time in several ways:

- Avoiding hitting the mangroves, where we were told snakes linger
- Taking out-of-focus “art-based” pictures of underwater muck
- Giving disapproving scowls at motorboats rufflin’ up the pristine waters
- Not seeing any giant-toothed swamp creatures (see previous)
- Accumulating a strangely-shaped sunburn
- Wishing our short time on the water wouldn’t end

Sure enough, the time did end. This was a mixed blessing, as my pale skin probably couldn’t have endured many more hours of direct light-bashing.

The Everglades – all of Florida, really – is so foreign to me. Had our campsite not been disgustingly infested with mosquitoes, from which their bites proved to match my soon-to-be sunburn quite nicely (I had my own little stars and stripes thing goin’ on), we would have gotten a bit more time to explore. As it was, I left wanting to see much more than I did. Hopefully the cards will one day align, and a winter visit will be feasible.

But fear not. For we saw more than these wishfully-still waters.

After spending a mosquitoey afternoon and night, and a peaceful morning in Flamingo – the terminus of the road into Everglades National Park – where we experienced more foreign tourists than in all other road trip stops combined, we headed back up the main drag and made a few memorable forays. Step zero, which I was glad not to experience, was the Snake Bight Trail. Now, the newfound lover-of-knots in me might think that a “Snake” is in this case some sort of fancy slack/loop thing…. but I would likely be wrong, as a bight is also a recess of a bay or coast, which is much more applicable to the Everglades than knot slack.

One stop was moderately unplanned, as we realized we had left a large jug of water, and a relatively new tube of sunscreen, back at Flamingo. In stopping to explore our losses, we consoled our parched throats, and my parched shoulders, with an almost-friendly gathering of vultures. Later on we would visit with similarly devious-looking anhingas, which are unfortunately also known as snakebirds. I just couldn’t shake the snake refs.

We visited Mahogany Hammock, a tree island, filled with namesake mahogany trees, as well as bromeliads, strangler figs, gumbo-limbo trees, and other exotic species that sound straight out of a fairy tale from a far-off kingdom. Like fairy-tale kingdoms, hammocks in the Everglades are surrounded by a narrow moat of water. Also like fairy-tale kingdoms {or not?}, we had run out of water at this point (due to the left-behind jug), and only had two Bell’s Two Hearted Ales to quench our thirst during the drawn-out, 0.5 mile boardwalk journey.

A quick stop at the Pa-Hay-Okee Overlook took us over an endless expanse of saw-grass, which we realized was not a grass, but a sedge. Sedges have edges, folks. And triangular stems. Amidst the saw-grass were copses of small cypress trees, of which I snagged a few cones that are now resting on the mantel.

Our final jaunt in the park was the Anhinga Trail, which I faintly remembered visiting years ago. The trail is a short out-and-back originating at the Royal Palm visitor center. The trail and center are located on the site of the old Royal Palm State Park, the first of its kind in Florida, originating in 1916. On display along the trail – almost comically so – are large and lazy alligators, floating around hoping for fleshy snacks. My camera didn’t make it to this stop, as I was busy fretting about my own comical issue: my sunburn. In addition to the alligators, there were turtles and anhingas to round out the essential ‘Glades experience.

Sites I missed in the Everglades that I would go back to see?

First, any of the 27 species of snakes found within the bounds of the park, only four of which are apparently poisonous. Just kidding!

Second (and for real), the Nike Missile HM-69 Site, a missile base built by USACE in 1963 at the height of the Cold War. The site included three above-ground missile launchers, as well as 22 extra top secrety military buildings. From January 1st to April 30th of each year, tours are offered to the Launch Area. It makes me want to watch JFK and read about military conspiracies for days.

After exiting the park, we completed the south Florida experience with a visit to the Robert is Here Fruit Stand and Farm, in Florida City, Florida. We tried an amazing mango, bought some less-than-amazing dried kiwi, and purchased a few gifts for the multiple thoughtful friends who had agreed to watch my crazy yowly cat while we were away. This store was quite the tourist trap, which was just fine with me. Since I didn’t make it to the Coral Castle, I had to find somewhere touristy to stop.

How to sum up the Florida lifestyle? I think this photo pretty much does the trick (that is a full-sized SUV on the left, FYI):

Planning a visit?

Everglades National Park

40001 State Rd. 9336
Homestead, FL 33034-6733

For visitor information, call 305.242.7700.

I visited during the wet (summer) season, when facilities may have restricted hours, recreational opportunities may be at a minimum, and mosquitoes are certainly on the warpath. However, the park is open year-round.

Robert is Here Fruit Stand and Farm

19200  SW 344th St
Homestead, FL 33034

Open 8h00-19h00 daily. Closed September and October.

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23 Responses to “glidin’ in the glades / and like lorne greene you know i get paid”

  1. Brianne 2011/07/26 at 19:34 #

    I don’t know what I think about Florida. Things/places that are unknown to me are usually met with rebuff, and for this reason I have a distaste for the place. I’ll wind up there at some point, I guess, and then all will be revealed.

    If there’s mangroves, though, I’m in. I love mangroves! Also, I loved your “sedges have edges” remark. I informed my boyfriend of said phenomenon and he thought I was crazy.

    You should go on another big adventure soon, just so we can read your delightful recountings! I’m sure the meager salary of a graduate student might hinder that, however…

  2. Maris (In Good Taste) 2011/07/26 at 20:49 #

    These are gorgeous photos

  3. emma schultz 2011/07/26 at 22:05 #

    Brianne: Boyfriend has a distaste of Florida as well, so I was amazed that it was he who suggested the Everglades as our end destination. I was pleased. I have no such distaste, but that’s because traveling is traveling to me, and I’m pretty happy with wherever I visit. Warm enough water to swim in without going numb? Bonus.

    Those mangroves were sick. Cough, cough. While a bit letdown by the motorboats impeding our wildlife viewing, the plant life was still phenomenal, and there were some really neat birds.

    Funny that you should mention it… despite the sad income, another trip is in the works for next month! I’ll have sooooo much more to write about!

    Maris: Thank you miss!

  4. Hannah 2011/07/27 at 01:02 #

    I wish my boyfriend wore the same shirt every day.

    Because then I would have a boyfriend.

    Hannah out.

    • emma schultz 2011/07/27 at 08:32 #

      Oh, Hannah….

      And don’t it make you sad about it

      Cry me a river
      (Go on and just)
      Cry me a river-er
      (Baby go on and just)
      Cry me a river
      (You can go on and just)
      Cry me a river-er, yea yea

      I’m just teasing of course, as I gently croon to you in my poor Justin Timberlake imitation. But I feel ya, girl, I feel ya.

      • Hannah 2011/07/27 at 09:57 #

        OUCH.

        Totally justified though ;)

        • emma schultz 2011/07/27 at 10:01 #

          Sorry, sweet thang:) I mostly just wanted to sing to you!

        • Hannah 2011/07/27 at 10:03 #

          :) And seeing as it’s now 12:03am and I have to be at work by 8:30am and I haven’t started getting ready for bed yet… I’m going to take your sweet singing voice and let it put me to sleep!

          xo

          • emma schultz 2011/07/27 at 10:10 #

            There you go! I’ll switch tactics – – since you love musicals, here’s some sweet dreams lyrics from Aida, one of my favorites:

            We all lead such elaborate lives
            wild ambitions in our sights
            How an affair of the heart survives
            days apart and hurried nights

            Seems quite unbelievable to me
            I don’t want to live like that
            seems quite unbelievable to me
            I don’t want to love like that
            I just want our time to be
            slower and gentler, wiser, free

            xo

            • Hannah 2011/07/27 at 18:48 #

              Aw, how beautiful! Thank you my dear :) Though I’m rather glad I read this in the morning, knowing how Aida ends… :P

              (I’ve never actually seen it! I did have a picture book (ish) version of it as a kid though.)

              • emma schultz 2011/07/28 at 17:16 #

                Honestly, it’s all about Adam Pascal for me. I think he’s the main reason I decided to become interested in musicals. I guess the Elton John-based tunes don’t hurt either!

  5. Simply Life 2011/07/28 at 16:44 #

    wow! great photos! I’ve never wanted to visit there until now!

    • emma schultz 2011/07/28 at 17:18 #

      Simply Life: Ahh, I’ve converted you! I take it you were another one of those with a distaste from the plush Florida lifestyle? I’m happy to have done my job here, as I think Florida is beautiful – if you can look past all the ugly development, giant snakes, crime rates, and retirees whose driving licenses should be revoked:)

  6. Mum 2011/07/28 at 17:59 #

    Funny, another hike with no water–you’d think that this just wouldn’t happen to you any more!
    Lovely photos, as always…I really like the watermelon picture.
    Funny about that “Coral Castle”–it doesn’t seem to me such an odd thing to do(carve coral), but that it says that he did it secretly!

    • emma schultz 2011/07/28 at 18:19 #

      Now now Mum, I maintain my belief that it was not I who left behind the water jug or sunscreen. However, I was a bit crazed from the sunburn, so I could be talking baloney to you right now. Eew, baloney.

      I was interested in the Coral Castle simply because it was a tourist trap. And because learnin’ up on homemade castles is my thing. In fact, the place I’d really like to visit is Le Palais idéal, built over the course of 33 years by a wacky French postman named Ferdinand Cheval. He picked up stones every day while delivering the mail (by the pocketful and by the wheelbarrow-full)… I read about this years ago and had to google “crazy mailman pebble france” to find it again. It was so close to where I lived in France….

      • Mum 2011/07/28 at 18:49 #

        So, you are saying that this guy, many thousands of miles away, and in a different time, also built a castle rather secretly(pocketing stones)…amazing!

        • emma schultz 2011/07/28 at 18:54 #

          Except crazy mailman pebble france was cooler, cause his name was Mr. Horse. And he gave up apprenticing as a baker to become a mailman…. interesting choice.

          • Mum 2011/07/28 at 19:05 #

            Must have made more money, certainly better hours! Meant to ask you about the red barked tree–is it lichen or bark?

            • emma schultz 2011/07/28 at 19:22 #

              That was a cool tree. Since everything was foreign, I had no idea what it was. But it appeared to have flaky red bark over a green (with yellow-speckled) under-bark bark. I didn’t touch it out of the fear that anything colorful is capable of poisoning me:) I’m assuming it was naturally like that – not affected by a disease or such.

  7. yummy supper 2011/07/28 at 22:53 #

    Emma, I’ve always wanted to check out the everglades. All that mangrove swampy cool stuff to see!
    Oh my that last photo of the mega truck cracked me up! I thought we had big cars in California:)
    -Erin

    • emma schultz 2011/07/28 at 23:22 #

      Erin, I bet you do have big cars in California… but somehow, this truck seemed to rival even those from the Monster Jam I attended earlier this summer. That’s right, Monster Jam.

      If you are serious about checking out the Everglades, I know just what I want to do next time I visit, and I bet it would interest you, too. They have these elevated backcountry platforms known as chickees that you can canoe to and camp at. You’d get to see plenty of mangrove swampy stuff that way:) You can also camp on the beach… Alas, winter travel would be much preferred for peaceful outdoor livin’.

  8. hungryandfrozen 2011/07/30 at 22:41 #

    Yay Beastie Boys! And oh, sweet Lorne Greene. I love that Bonanza opening theme, especially how the map catches fire.
    I’m inclined to look down my nose on moterboats, or in fact anything moter-powered in the water when I’m trying to enjoy the serenity. My family and I go camping at this one spot every year and it’s become a bit overrun with jetskis :/

    • emma schultz 2011/08/03 at 21:28 #

      Laura: Heck yes, Beastie Boys! I swear, I’ve got their rhymes flowing through my veins nonstop. I think it drives those around me a bit mad at times… I’ll randomly bust out with something like “The girl is crafty like ice is cold!” or “Like eating burgers or chicken or you’ll be pickin’ your nose / I’m on time, homie, that’s how it goes.”

      What a disappointment that your fave family haunt has become overrun with jetskis. Perhaps you could bring along a wrist rocket and some rotten tomatoes? No, that’s probably too violent. It’s that Beastie influence lingering on me… “Cause me and my crew were out breakin’ windows…” I’m not a motorboat fan, either!

And now I'd like to pass the mic / So you c'mon and do anything you like ...aka, Leave your reply.

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