Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Moving Day Again

Once again we moved today -- all the way to North Fort Myers. We going to be here for the next nine nights. It will be good to be in one place for a bit. We took Highway 41, the Tamiami Trail, across the state of Florida. It runs alongside the Tumiami Canal (confusing, huh?). On the eastern side, the canal is wide and open. The further east you go, the narrower it gets and becomes very closed in with trees, palms and grasses.

Highway 41 is a two-lane road, mostly in pretty good repair. There is road work going on that turned it into a single lane several times --

We must have seen over a hundred of these critters today! It was a sunny day and there were lots of alligators soaking up the warmth along the banks of the canal --

If we saw a hundred alligators, we must have seen a thousand birds. All kinds of herons, egrets, anhingas and cormorants. What we did not see were any of the pythons the news says are wiping out the small mammals in the Everglades!

We are settled in at Sun Seekers RV Park in North Fort Myers, Florida. As I was walking back to the office to pay our rent, a lady on a trike stopped me to tell me "what a good job my husband had done backing into that place!" I don't know where she was watching from, but it was nice to hear.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Along the Tumiami Canal

We went for a drive today along the Tumiami Canal on Highway 41 with a detour along the Loop Drive (which turned out to be closed partway through the loop so that we had to back track...). Part of the drive was in the Big Cypress National Preserve. I was quite surprised to see so many air plants in the trees --

 I know that some of these are in the bromeliad family, but that's about as much as I know about them!

I've often seen them in conservatories and plant stores, but never in the wild --

There were many of them in bloom --

The whole area was pretty swampy with lots of waterways. These water lilies were plentiful --

We thought we saw a Great White Egret off in the sawgrass, but when I looked at the picture and saw the beak, I realized that it was a white Ibis --

Tucked way back in the trees was this Little Blue Heron --

 This picture is a good shot of the swamp. You can see the cypress trees with lots of cypress "knees" (the short portions sticking up in the water...); air plants; and even an ibis --

Here's a Great White Egret and a White Ibis hunting together --

And then we saw a whole mixed flock of the white birds -- plus a Double-crested Cormorant drying its wings. It was early in the afternoon, but they may have already been gathering for their night's roosting --

We caught this gentleman relaxing on an old cypress knee at a house along the canal --

Sunday, January 29, 2012


We spent a quiet "down" day at Gator Park today. There is a lot of traffic in and out at the office/gift shop/restaurant area as both single carloads of people and tour buses full arrive steadily. They get a twenty minute air boat (that seats twenty) ride out into the Everglades, then a "wild animal" show where the guide shows a few alligators (for an extra three dollars, you can get your picture taken with a small alligator).


 We have not seen many alligators at all this winter in contrast to all the ones we saw in Louisiana a couple of years ago. Across the road from where Auntie Violet is parked is a four foot fence around a small lake. This afternoon, Forry watched a visitor come up to the fence --

 According to the information on Gator Park's Internet page, there are 500 alligators in the area...

 There are domesticated chickens, ducks and peafowl running around the shop and RV park area that seem totally unconcerned about the presence of alligators. This hen had FIFTEEN baby balls of fluff with her!

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Gator Resort

Wow! It got warm today! It was 84 degrees when we went through Key Largo and I'm sure it was in the 90s by the time we got to Gator Resort. We drove north on Highway 1 (the Overseas Highway) and then connected with Highway 997 until we got to Highway 41. The Gator Resort is about ten miles west on 41.

When we drove in, we weren't quite sure where to go. There were lots of cars in the parking lot and several tour buses. We finally saw some RVs way in the back. A fellow came out of the store and told us where to park until we could talk to the office. I waited in line for a while -- there were people buying tickets for air boat rides -- and finally talked to the guy behind the desk. He said they had two spots left, but he didn't think our 50 foot RV would fit. (We had called them last week and been told they didn't take reservations, but had lots of room...)  I told him we weren't even forty feet and he said he was sure we were bigger then that when we drove in with the toad...

Anyhow, he came out to take a better look and decided we would fit into one of his sites, but we had to be sure NOT to back off the concrete pad as the last fellow that did had to be pulled out with a tow truck. (You could see the deep ruts that had been filled -- sort of -- with bark.) We got backed in -- stopped  a foot or so from the edge so that the jacks could be put down. We were both tired by the time we got all set up in the heat, so turned on all the fans and took a nap.

We were able to use the Passport America 50% discount for one night, so that will make our two night stay a little less expensive. We are right near Everglades National Park, so will maybe check that out tomorrow.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Getting Ready to Move

Alas, our time in the Keys is coming to an end! We'd love to stay longer, but it is just too expensive for us to spend any more time here. This IS the high season, so there are few, if any, discounts at the RV parks. Although we have noticed that many of them, including this one, are not at all full.

We started taking care of some of the necessary tasks this afternoon. We had complained earlier about the sewer connections on our site that had no screw threads, so that the cap just sat on top and "burbled" very odoriferously  every time someone on the line drained their tanks. The office sent out a maintenance crew, but they evidently did not have the right connections to put on, so they glued a foot-long PVC pipe on it. Which, of course, is way too high for us to drain our tanks...! Since our grey water tank was getting awfully full, Forry connected his macerator pump and hose and drained it that way. We'll drain the black tank tomorrow at the regular dump site when we pull out tomorrow.

The other task we took care of this afternoon was putting away the lawn chairs in Toad. When I went to fold up the second one, I found this little critter sunbathing --

Just look at the length of those toes! No wonder these little lizards are such good climbers --

There was an interesting sunset this evening. The red of the sky was reflected in the water of the Gulf. So pretty!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Brown Pelicans

We've enjoyed watching the Brown Pelicans that often fly into the mangroves across the little canal in front of where Auntie Violet is parked. They do have webbed feet, but seem to have no problem perching in the trees.

The Brown Pelicans (I know, I know, they are more gray than brown!) are a very large bird, although not as large as their cousins, the American White Pelicans.

 They can weigh up to eight pounds and have a wing span of over six feet --

They look incredibly elegant once in the water, though they are quite clumsy-looking as they land.

 I think this one thought he was on patrol, keeping an eye on the motorhomes along the canal --

We spent most of the morning with Bill and Leslie, just enjoying a last visit before they started on the six hour plus drive back to Orlando. It clouded up early this afternoon and we had a brief rain shower. It was just enough to wet the sidewalk before the sun came back out.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

More Key West

Forry and I sent Leslie and Bill off to go kayaking and snorkeling today, while we took the day off to rest. We were both so tired this morning we decided we needed a down day.

Here are some more pictures from yesterday --

This is the guys in the front seat of the electric car we rented --

And this is the place they were looking for --

And this is what they were after --

Frozen Key Lime pie dipped in chocolate --

I finally found out the name of this gorgeous plant we have seen all over Key West. It is a spider lily.

I spotted this interesting shrub across the street from where we had rented the electric car --

It's a Bush Allamanda, a Brazilian native --

While this is the shrub form, it also can be a type of vine --

These are a pair of the Key West natives. Banty chickens have the run of the city and are all over.  I think they keep the ants and other pests down.

After we returned the rental electric care, and as it got towards sundown, we headed towards the harbor and Mallory Square --

A good share of the population, locals and tourists alike, flock to the harbor to watch the sunset --

There were a few clouds in the sky, but it was a beautiful sight --

Leslie had wonderful memories of a Cuban restaurant, El Siboney, she had eaten at fifteen years ago when she last visited Key West. It ended up being a long walk in a very dark residential neighborhood, but we finally found it (we were beginning to wonder about her memory!). There was a long line out the door and we had about a twenty minute wait. It was well worth it! We had a wonderful meal of roast pulled pork, yellow rice, plantains and black beans. The portions were so large, Forry and I had more than enough for our meal tonight.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Key West Butterfly Conservatory

We went back to Key West this morning with our friends Leslie and Bill. This was Bill's first trip to the Keys while Leslie hadn't been here for fifteen years. It was kinda fun to fill them on what we had learned during our week here. We rented an electric car to run around town in -- that in itself was fun and a good way to sight see. We checked out the "official" Southernmost Point in the Continental USA (there is actually a Naval radar station that is further south...) for the obligatory picture.

Then we headed over to the Key West Butterfly and Nature Conservancy that we had missed seeing on our earlier trips. In the anteroom they had several plants that were serving as food for butterfly larva.

Then we went through two sets of double doors into the gardens which were very warm and humid. There were literally hundreds of different butterflies flitting about. We did learn that all of the butterflies are farmed raised and that there average life span is only two weeks! This first one is a Blue Morpho, native to Costa Rica --

We bought a $2 chart that pictured two dozen different butterflies and moths, but most of these were not on pictured on it...

This one is another Costa Rican native that was on the chart, it's called a Hecate Longwing --

We went from the Butterfly Conservancy to many other spots around Key West, but it's late, I'm tired. I'm off to bed!