We would depart from the Ivey House in much the same manner that we arrived, racing to get to a tour of the Everglades.
Today's adventure would be a polar opposite to the previous evening's kayak tour on just about every level.
The Ten Thousand Island Cruise
"The ten thousand island tour goes through the saltwater portion of the Everglades, the tour is fully narrated by a park trained naturalist as we weave through one of the worlds largest mangrove forest. Often seen are manatee’s, bald eagles, ospreys, roseate spoonbills, and the dolphins love to jump and play in the wake of the boat."
Although we were enchanted by dolphins and pelicans, we would not see manatee’s, bald eagles, ospreys, or roseate spoonbills,
We were the only people on the 9:30 am trip and where on the trip the evening before this lent itself to a more unique and intimate experience, today it highlighted how manufactured and routine our excursion, in reality, was. It felt like the boat may have well have been on rails and the guides narrative prerecorded.
That being said, it's hard to screw up the splendor that mother nature provides, in spite of our ill-founded attempts.
**side-note--If I'm sounding a bit bitter it's because I just spent an hour rewriting the above text because by some misstep of my fingers, the previous attempt was lost, left to float adrift in the tubes of the internet.
That sign marks the boundary of the Everglades National Park. One thing that struck me about the park was how amorphous the borders of the park were and all that that may entail.
The guide did mention the chance of us seeing a manatee in these waters were slim and if we did it would only be its head coming up for air for a moment. So as he put it, be on the look out for a floating coconut that disappears. If you see that, you might have seen the head of a manatee.
This guy had an agenda. Point out a few birds on the way out to where the dolphins were most likely to be. Try to entice them to play in the wake of the boat and then head on back to the visitors center.
The part that was more salt-water than fresh.
We were out where the Everglades and the Gulf of Mexico meet.
The beach of that little island all by its lonesome would hold a lovely treasure.
These were giant birds, there wingspan being the second largest in North America, being edged out by the California Condor by mere inches.
The bird's head stands at about five foot which is hard to conceive without much to give its size scale.
It is impossible to capture the magic that is a dolphin.
They are ephemeral beings akin to mermaids, who, by the way are also hard to photo.
Our guide did manage to drop down right in the middle of a group of frolicking dolphins.
It was the closest I'd been to so many dolphins in the wild for so long with such a good view. It was amazing regardless of the blatant tourist play.
The guide tried to get them to follow and couple did for a bit but they were having more fun doing their own thing.
Skye attempted to video them, but like I said.....
Or.....Dad, I need to get a really great picture of an alligator.
After we finished the "cruise" we set out for the Keys, our final leg on the road trip to the Southern-est bit of land in the US. We would be driving through the Everglades for the first chunck of the journey and surely would see a gator or two.
While we saw many a big lizard as we sped through the Everglades and lands adjacent, we were looking for one where we could pull off and take some time getting pictures without being overly concerned about getting run over by the vehicles that tended to be traveling at speeds in the just sub-70 zone. I am not exaggerating that given my tendency to hyperbole.
So we ended up pulling off at several camp grounds and picnic stops, looking for a gator.
I fortunately but a stop to that misadventure.
We were safely across the river these photo-ops.
She assumed it was a tire or something, silly Cindy
What our guide had told us the other night was that the hide was to thick for the vultures beaks so they typically only had one entry point.
Hence the many birds waiting for there chance to get a bite.
After many Discovery Channel moments, we were finally able to get on the road and focus on getting to Key West before sunset.
As picturesque as the journey was, because we were heading directly into the sun, any photo record of this leg is pretty much a solarized silhouette at best.
Skye did manage to snap this pic, which is at least humorous.
We had worked down in the Keys on True Lies, 18 years ago and one of the roadside joints that we often frequented was a seafood place called Monty's.
Cindy was able to find their website and rough location on Summerland Key.
The website might have survived on the internet, but the actual restaurant had long since passed. Instead we stumbled upon the Wharf Bar and Grill, much to our good fortune.
There was also an incredible iguana who spent a good amount of time posing for us, managing to capture the last rays of sun.
Once again we made it to one of our destinations famous for their Sunsets in the dark.