The last few years we've been in the Everglades for MLK Day--free national parks! But this year, by a grand unplanned event, we headed to Loxahatchee National Refuge and went on a true Florida "hike" which was all of .5 miles and completely flat and boarded. But, I have to say, this was EPIC. This was swamp and crocodile country like the imagination of Roald Dahl, or Lloyd Alexander, or Jim Henson, or Frank Oz. I took pictures to try and capture it, but a flat picture does not capture the expanse of green and moss and weird trees.
The kids were great--Will got a pair of binoculars from the visitor's center (in exchange for Sterling's license) and he was in HEAVEN. And Molly was our official thing-finder (we were listening to Pippi Longstocking on our way and the kids were all about being Thing-Finder's). She must have been at the perfect height to look through the slats because she saw everything! Turtles and moss and gigantic snail shells and 'knees'. We learned that knees were parts of the tree root that went to grow up out of the swamp, but then went back down. There were tons of them. It was really weird.
Oh and also the Visitor's Center was AMAZING. There was an entire room that was circular and had a star-filled ceiling and it was all black and when you started the story things would light up to tell the story. Like an alligator. Or a raccoon. My kids all laid on the floor next to Sterling and watched all the lights and listened to the entire story while I nursed the baby. It was seriously so cool.
|Soooo many vines.|
|Old Man's Beard moss coming off everything in sight.|
|All about the knees.|
|Will checking out the landscape. Pretty sure there were fists flying a second before about whose turn it was. Oh man.|
|Supposedly those tiny green leaves that grow all over the water are really great for....something. But helpful....in some way? HAAHAAHAAA|
|I never actually read about this tree, but Sterling did and told me how it wraps around other trees to grow. So weird.|
|If you look closely, right where the lily pads and the marsh grass meets, there is an alligator. This was the first time I begged for a turn with the binoculars, and it felt like I was sitting right there with that gator! So cool!|
|There was a MASSIVE binocular thing on the watchtower to look through. We didn't really see anything other than birds, but it was neat.|
|We saw a full rainbow when we stopped at Walmart on our way home and the kids were ENCHANTED.|
Loved that we could get out on a day that was cool and refreshing and somewhat sans bugs (for Florida) and have such a good break. Sterling and I just planned 4th year and all of his externships and Step 2 and OSCE exams and application due dates and interviews and....I'm going to be flying solo for a big chunk of next year. And I think it's made me extra sappy about right now. Third year has been really good to us.