Tuesday, November 6, 2012

11/6/2012 Air Boat Ride!

(Everglades, FL)

Today we said “so long” to Manatee Cove.  I loved this place, Bob thought it was ok.  I think if our first week had been better weather wise and the fish were biting he’d love it too.

So we headed south and ended up just outside of Miami.  Actually, we were technically in the Everglades.

We pulled into this …ahem…campground and thought to ourselves and even said out loud, “We’ve been in better!” 


Actually, the attraction we’re here for is the main reason we’re here.  We’re going alligator huntin’!  Not literally hunting of course.

We got set up and I prepared everything for dinner so that is was all ready to go as soon as we walked in the door.  The show we were to watch started at 4:30 and we didn’t want to be late.

On the walk over we couldn’t help but notice the peacocks.  We also couldn’t help but notice that the males didn’t have their very colorful tail feathers.


We passed this mother peacock with two babies.


We go to the stage area where the gator show is going to take place.  There was probably 40 people watching the show and many were just coming in from their airboat ride.
As I said, this show was about alligators.


Between you and me, I found the show kind of hokey.  The “ranger” sat on the gator.


…and got right in the gator’s face.


He brought out a baby alligator and told everyone they could have their picture taken for a small donation of just $3.00.  Uh, no,


The picture below is of a Banyon Tree.  This is one tree.


There is about a dozen peacocks on the property and they all sleep in this tree.  Each peacock has their own branch that they sleep on every night and if one gets in another’s place there is a lot squawking going on until the offending peacock goes to his own branch.

This is the kind of airboat we’re going out on.


This is our airboat pilot.


I was so glad he was our guide.  I had listened to the about a half dozen other guides who were on the docks and I could hardly understand them.  They had this cajun, bayou, wordsallruntogether language and I couldn’t make heads or tails out of it.

Since we were the last boat trip of the day there were only eight of us.  Each couple had their own seat and no one was in each other’s way when it came time to see things.
We started out nice and slow, barely making waves as we glided down the waterway.  The first sign of wildlife was this blue heron.


Just seconds later our guide yelled, “Gator coming up on the left.”


Our guide was very informative about the alligators and life in the Everglades.
And we saw turtles.


The water was anywhere from eight to twenty inches deep but the shallow depth didn’t matter to us in the flat bottom boat.


We finally out into the open.



Our guide then asked us if we really wanted to go for a ride.  Of course we all yelled, “Yes!”  He instructed us to put our earplugs they provided in and to hold on!
The calm, barely a ripple water turned into this when we went speeding across the top of the water.


Bob had to turn his hat so that it wouldn’t blow off and you can see the girl sitting in front of us has her blowing in the wind our ride created.


I was fine with this while we were in defined, clear waterways.  I wasn’t so comfortable when he started piloting us through the tall grass.  Birds would suddenly take flight right in front of us, uprooted from the quiet, secret places they were resting.
Bob was totally getting into this.


Look in the lower right portion of the picture below.  That is the wake we were creating as we plowed through the water.


This airboat ride was thrilling, exhilarating and scary as hell all at the same time.  For me that is.  Bob absolutely loved every minute of it.



We started heading back to the docks after about 45 minutes of riding out in the open water.  When we got into a more protected waterway our guide slowed way down in hopes of seeing baby alligators he knew to be in the area.

There are usually 40-50 babies born to a mother but only half will make it to maturity.  Babies are often eaten by birds, raccoons, large bass and snakes.  Did you know that alligators sex is determined by the temperature?  If its steady above 85 degrees all males will be born.  If the temps are on average below 85 then all the alligators will be female.  I, for one, was surprised to learn that.

Sure enough, we saw some baby alligators in their marshy habitat.


They’ll stay here for the first several years of their lives.  Their mother will still close by until they are about four feet long.  By then their only predator is man.


What a great airboat ride!  I’m so glad we did this.

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