We were up at 7 AM and took long, hot showers; a real luxury for folks currently living in a motorhome. We had breakfast in the hotel as it was included in the price of the room. We then headed back to Everglades National Park. We wanted to spend the early part of the day deeper in the par so we drove straight through to Flamingo.
It was a little warmer and sunnier today, which would be nice for going on the Backcountry Tour. We thought we would take the 11 AM boat until we found out that it’s a one hour and forty-five minute excursion with no access to a restroom. That was, unfortunately, a non-starter for me. We were both disappointed, as the only way to really see the Everglades is by boat or air. Driving, biking, and hiking is very limited.
Our trip to the Flamingo service center area was not wasted. I photographed a pair of Osprey in a nest on the communications tower atop the Flamingo Visitor Center and photographed two adult birds in another Osprey nest in a tree by the marina. We joined a walking tour led by a Park Ranger. Just in the area near the visitor center we saw manatees in the marina, an American Crocodile by the canal, and lots of birds, especially Pelicans and gulls. I took lots of pictures.
Eventually we left Flamingo and started working our way back towards the park entrance, stopping at several places along the way to walk some of the available boardwalks and trails. At Nine Mile Pond we spent quite a while observing and photographing a very large alligator. Presumably a bull (male) I estimated his length at 12 feet. These large adults weight approximately 100 pounds per foot, so I estimated his weight at 1,100 pounds. I took lots of photos.
We also stopped at Mahogany Hammock and hiked the trail and close to the park entrance we revisited the Royal Palm area and ventured part way out on the Anhinga Trail. It was late afternoon and the sun was low enough to give us some nice color, the first we have had for the last two days. I took a few landscape photos and then Linda spotted a turtle so I concentrated on it for a while.
I noticed the water lily pads moving and caught a glimpse of what looked like a large fish. The Lilly pad disturbance was moving and something was clearly underwater causing it. I was standing there watching the Lilly pads move when an alligator surfaced, revealing its head from behind its eyes to the tip of its snout. It stayed there quite a while and I took pictures while a small crowd gathered. It remained motionless except for its right eye, which was wide open and studying us carefully. It eventually moved over by the boardwalk and we were able to look straight down at it through clear water that allowed us to see its entire length clearly. It finally swam under the boardwalk and did not reappear.
By this time the light was fading and the temperature had cooled to 60 degrees F. We returned to our car and put the address of the Panera near our hotel in the GPS navigation system. We headed there directly, only stopping at the park entrance to photograph the park boundary sign.
At Panera we had vegetable soup and the new couscous salad. Linda had done all of the driving today but I drove us back to the hotel after dinner. We settled in for the evening and watched Nature and Nova on PBS before going to sleep.