The center is actually a museum regarding the past, present and future of the Everglades complete with a short, informational movie. The most important thing I learned is that the Everglades is not a swamp, which I had always assumed. It is completely freshwater that is constantly moving through the Glades. Then we discovered the Everglades is disappearing at an alarming rate and we all learned ways we can help, even from far away. When we discovered there was a 1/2 mile walk through the Glades we knew we had to do it but figured we'd be lucky to see one alligator. As we ventured out to the walk start point several park rangers came up to Donald and informed him that taking his service dog was his choice but that two days ago someone had a non-service dog in the park, illegal to begin with, and an alligator actually ate it! Can you imagine the horror? I have to admit though, as we walked, I would like to have seen an alligator chomp on one of the myriad birds or even each other! Donald did the sensible thing and took a nap in the truck with Holly and Shakespeare, who was happy to not be alone anymore!
We saw about 50 alligators; I felt like one of those tourists I used to laugh at who have never seen antelope before. They were so cool! The informational movie told us that gators can run up to 30 mph for short bursts. There were times at the beginning of the walk when we were on level ground with gators no more than 10 feet away. Like this guy:
These next few photos are taken from a wooden boardwalk suspended, maybe, five or six feet above the alligators. We were also pretty impressed with all the varied bird life and how they seem to live symbiotically with the gators. When do they become lunch, is what I want to know?
|Can you spot all the gators in here?|
|This guy seems a bit satisfied, if you ask me.|
|They boys in front of the sawgrass prairie|
|A couple of turtles and an Anhinga, also called a snake bird due to its long neck|
|Almost kind of cute, right?|
As if going to see alligators in the Everglades wasn't cool enough, this morning when we awoke in our beautiful campground in West Palm Beach we got to watch the sunrise which was, as my youngest put it, "misty sherbet" colored. Shortly before that, though, Donald called me outside to see what was gliding seamlessly through the lake, 25 yards from the RV. It was 12 foot gator. And I used to think deer in the front yard were pretty beautiful! It's unbelievable the things we have seen on this adventure and every day I feel so blessed!