Earlier this month we rented a car and made a road trip to Naples, Florida to have lunch with a friend. On the way there, we made a couple of stops to take in some Everglades wildlife. We didn’t see the elusive Florida Panther, but we did see plenty of alligators.
Trip highlights from May 3rd and 4th follow. Click any image for a larger view, or click the position to view the location on a map. And a live map of our current route and most recent log entries always is available at http://mvdirona.com/maps
High fences bordered both sides of the road, topped with barbed-wire oriented to keep something from entering the road. When we noticed the fences had gaps near the panther crossing signs, we realized they were designed to protect the panther and give them a safer place to cross the road. The Florida Panther is nearly extinct–barely 100 adults are still in the wild–and vehicle collisions are among their leading causes of death.
On the way to Naples, we made a couple of stops to take in some Everglades wildlife. Our first stop was at Fakahatchee Strand Preserve State Park along US Route 41 to walk the Big Cypress Bend Boardwalk. Signs near the entrance warned of the most fearsome resident: alligators.
The Strangler Fig is the common name for a variety of tropical and subtropical plant species. We saw several in Barron Gorge National Park near Cairns, Australia. The tree often starts growing from a seed that has landed on the host tree. The sprouted seed sends roots down, frequently entwining and strangling the host. When the roots reach the ground, the tree changes from an epiphyte, or air plant, to a terrestrial plant. This fig has killed its host and now entwines a rotting stump.
At the top of the pond’s food chain was this adult alligator at least ten feet in length. It circled the basin, trying without luck to catch one of the wading birds that kept a close eye on it. Alligators typically grow to about 14 feet long, a little smaller than the crocodiles we saw in Australia, that often grow to about 19 feet long. That missing few feet does not make them any less dangerous. The babies were kind of cute, but that is not the word that comes to mind when you see an adult.
Our second stop was a short distance down Route 41 at the Ten Thousand Islands National Wildlife Refuge, part of the largest expanse of mangrove forest in North America. The refuge only encompasses a portion of the Ten Thousand Islands chain–much of the rest is part of Everglades National Park to the southeast.
A short distance from the parking lot is an observation tower that provides a sweeping view across the everglades. The tower is barely two stories high, but the area is so flat you don’t need much height to see a long way. The footage starting at 1:44 in https://youtu.be/_s5dIAp_WQc (2:11) shows the scene.
We’d gone to Naples to have lunch at the Snook Inn with Janet Perna, who lives in Naples most of the year. James worked closely with Janet in the 1990s when he was lead architect on DB2 at the IBM Toronto software lab and Janet was General Manager responsible for IBM’s Information Management Software Business. We’ve kept in touch over the years, but James and Janet haven’t seen each other for nearly a decade and Jennifer and Janet probably closer to two decades. It was a real treat to get together and catch up after all those years.
Click the travel log icon on the left to see these locations on a map, with the complete log of our cruise.
On the map page, clicking on a camera or text icon will display a picture and/or log entry for that location, and clicking on the smaller icons along the route will display latitude, longitude and other navigation data for that location. And a live map of our current route and most recent log entries always is available at http://mvdirona.com/maps.