After doing the "scenic" route the day before with mixed results we decided to simply blast through the short 3 hour leg from Siesta Key to the Everglades so that we might actually be able to see something before the sunset.
We had lunch at a place that seemed to specialize in seafood. It was a super touristy joint where pretty much everything got fried.
We ordered frog legs. I couldn't resist. They were unlike any frog legs I'd ever seen.
Cindy couldn't eat them because she thought they looked like little human legs.
I set a really bad example by not only playing with my food, but making some horrific Dr. Moreau inspired creature of soft-shelled crab and the aforementioned frog legs. I called it Crabenfrog.
After finishing our grease-laden "meal" we were off to check in to our historic lodge.
Making reservations at the last minute for popular vacation spots at peak season, while spontaneous and exhilarating can prove to be quite challenging.
Besides simply finding vacancies, the next task is finding one's with no minimum stay. Which is how we ended up in the Ivey House, specifically the "historic" lodge.
"The Ivey House Lodge is a remodeled boarding house built circa 1928, which was originally operated by Mr. & Mrs. Ivey to house the workers constructing the Tamiami Trail."
But I'm jumping ahead of myself.
As we were checking in, we inquired about the kayak tour, something Skye had already told me she definitely would not do. Who could blame her for not wanting to paddle around next to alligators that could make a meal of you with a flick of their nose or swipe of their tail.
If we hurried there was still one tour we could make, the "Sunset" paddle with Everglades Eco-adventures, where you end up kayaking through mangrove, alligator infested waters at night.
Skye was not so pleased. As a compromise, we got a tandem kayak which worked out great, because she was able to concentrate on her photography.
Paddle Into the Twilight (Evenings)
We piled into a van with the kayaks in tow and were off. We had a wonderful guide who proceeded to go through the do's and don'ts, what to expect, etc. etc.
By the time we were getting ready to "put in", we realized, intellectually at least that the gators were the least of our concerns. Flying fish, hordes of spiders, fire ants and .....
But like I said we had other worries.
The Everglades are not so quiet. For instance there was the loud splash sounds of the "flying" fish; the mullets that would jump out of the water. These were big fish that apparently could hit you in the head or land in you boat and basically wreak all sorts of havoc.
And they were hopping aplenty.
We would go through several of these tunnels through the mangrove stands.
There is no way to show the numbers of spiders we encountered. Literally hundreds, no more like thousands. I would end up wearing a web wig, getting bitten a couple of times and trying, with no avail to avoid the hordes.
This is the best shot we could get. Those little specks are all spiders and this is a very spread out grouping, imagine those dots times ten and you would have a more accurate idea of the what was waiting for us in the tunnels.
The trip was less than half-way over and it had already qualified as amazing several times over. .
Skye had gotten over her nervousness withing minutes of being on the water and was sort of wishing she was in her own kayak.
But again, being in the tandem allowed her to focus on her photography and boy were there a lot of photo-ops.
Cindy heads into the tunnel on the way back.
After this one we would be completely dependent on the lights from our head-lamps. It was a new moon, so even darker than usual.
One major drawback to the headlamps, bugs are attracted to the light.
And there were a lot of bugs. At one point it looked like fog was coming off the surface of the water.
We did turn off the lights at one point and the stars, absolutely incredible. And the sounds of the Everglade, magically.
The lights didn't stay off long. We had to keep our eyes out for gators, or rather gators eyes, which we did find. They glowed a fiery orange. The looked like dragons. It was a little unsettling. But again bigger concerns as one mullet jumped over the front of our kayak and moments later another one hit the back of our craft, hard.
And don't forget the swarms of bugs, that were making breathing difficult. I choked on more than a few as we quickened our pace home.
An unforgettable experience.
The Camellia Street Grill hit the spot; surprisingly fresh and good food and wonderful mojitos.
Actually the Ivey House was wonderful. We just were so tired from the trip and the room was definitely small and we've gotten spoiled with always having our own bathroom. It's almost a given you'll have your own bathroom these days when you travel, but it's really a recent indulgence.
I kind of was into it, as a novelty. Luckily before that novelty could wear off we were back on the road.