Wednesday, December 7, 2016

The Everglades


From the Alligator Farm we headed straight to the Everglades. Which included lots of driving. But was really, really beautiful. I've really wanted to go all the way down to Flamingo (the area of the Everglades that hits ocean) but we haven't made it a priority, so I am super (in Will's voice: "yew-per!") glad we got to go!

I didn't take any pictures at the visitors center because I felt awful. But with tylenol and antinausea and lunch, I started feeling a little better. But I have pictures of it last year on Christmas Day, if you happened to want to go back in my blog. After the visitors center, we continued on to several hikes. Which I thought I had pulled my camera out for, but apparently not. It was fun to see all the trees and things. We listened to a park rangers spiel on alligators v. crocodiles and got all the answers right since we had just heard all of it at the alligator farm. Megan was quite proud, haaahaahaa. 

These pictures are after several hikes, we stopped and nobody wanted to get out to do this hike. So only mom and Megan went, haha! I usually am totally up for these things, but like I said, I was not feeling well. Plus, I was worried about zika and there were SOOOOO many mosquitoes outside that day! Anyway, Sterling was the man, because he walked around and said "I need your camera, you would love this!" and then went around and took pics for me so I could enjoy it. Thanks, babe!



So, throughout the day with Megan, we discovered there are 4 areas of everglades. I can't remember what they are officially referred to as. But basically, different vegetation grows in each one. So primarily it is just open, vast wetlands of grass. But there was one tree section, one pigmy tree section, and I guess one other. Oh man, should've kept our information sheets! We did hikes in all of the sections, except the one above.




There's a lot of boardwalks in the hikes there, because everything is water.



This next hike was my favorite, except we all ended up running to the van because we were getting eaten alive by mosquitoes. But the vegetation was SOOOO cool. Also, they had a couple crazy big trees that had been hit by hurricanes, and it showed how shallow their root systems were because of the water, but it looked like half a basketball court was dug up around the tree!


Cutie cousins. Will insisted on carrying around his Ninja Turtle backpack. He's pretty adorable.
Mahogany Tree.



These next pictures are when we reached Flamingo. The last area of the Everglades. It was kind of a bust because we got there around 5pm and everything closed at 430pm. But Megan hunted down a guy to swear in Ruth and Devaney to their Junior Rangers. Haha. 

We came all this way because Jared heard that you have a 50/50 chance of seeing manatees and dolphins and other ocean things in the wintertime. We've seen manatees. I've seen them at Deering Estate and then we all saw them in Key West. But Jared REALLY wanted to see one. We didn't see anything. And we all ran into the van for safety from the horrible mosquitoes. But Jared and Megan weren't there. So we drove over there and THERE WERE THREE MANATEES. Jared was sooooo happy. There was also a crocodile, because in this part of the ocean, you get crocodiles, not alligators like the rest of the Everglades. It was a huge success. 

The massive crocodile. This is very zoomed in.

The manatees tail.

The manatees were hanging out right under the boats at the dock.





After that we drove back to Robert Is Here and our hotel for the night. It was a wonderful hotel. Will was tired, Ruth was carsick, I threw up in the hotel room a handful of times. Kiersten called around 8:45 to see if we were coming swimming or to hang out and we were already in bed. It was sad because we wanted to hang out with them...but man, that was a good night! None of the kids woke up until around 730, which is unheard of. We all slept sooo much! I guess keeping up with Megan wore us out! Plus the kids hadn't been getting their normal naps. Megan's kids had fun swimming, because the pool was heated, yay!, and hopefully had a great night.

Alligator Farm

I was really not feeling great on the day we did the Everglades. Megan wanted to see it all (which was actually pretty awesome, because it's quite the drive from where we live all the way to the bottom, and we haven't done it before, so I'm glad we got the chance) and that made for quite a bit of driving. Ruth got carsick. I don't know if I was carsick or just pregnant (both) and Will was getting over a bug and had some other bodily problems that made us aware of where EVERY SINGLE BATHROOM was, haha. I wish we would have felt a little better, cause it was a pretty amazing day. We started out at Robert Is Here. I thought I pulled out my camera, but looking back I think I was using mom's. We love Robert Is Here, and luckily for us, Megan and Jared and family and mom loved it a ton too! So much so that we went back that evening, haha. It's a fruit stand, with the most tropical fruit of any..in the US? I can't remember. Anyway, they let you sample a ton of it. And they have a million kinds of honey they let you sample. And they have incredible shakes they let you put any of their fruit into in any combination (we tried a key lime strawberry shake because I kind of stick to what I love after trying guanabana last time and hating it...and the key lime strawberry was TO DIE FOR AMAZING!) and I think Jared got a guava/mango/something and it was really good, too. Myles bought some alligator jerky, he said it was all right. Megan bought a thousand things that were ALL DELICIOUS, but mostly the mangoes. They were perfection. She bought several bags and we ate them all day long, and now I want to drive back to Robert Is Here just thinking about it. She also bought these little black things that I didn't like at all, but Sterling did. And mom tried this cajun tortilla chip (homemade) with salsa that was so delicious (we also bought more that night because we loved it so much). I can't even remember all the fruits now, but we loaded up. That is one of the awesome treats of traveling with Megan. Definitely a highlight of the trip. They also have a petting zoo and a few other things there, so that was fun. 

From there we went straight to the Alligator Farm. We had heard it was pretty cool (also pretty pricey! but the closest one on the way we were headed) and it was pretty cool. I feel like Sterling and I were a little underwhelmed because 1)I've been to Gatorland in Orlando which is five times the size of this one, but basically the same thing. 2) We've gone biking in Shark Valley several times and seen the gators up close. 3) We've both done air boat rides (separately, Sterling with friends, and me with our cousin Mariah) and while this one was more "exciting" the other ones were longer and more informative, and we kind of missed that. But all that aside---there was a lot of cool things to do and see, and I hope that Megan and fam enjoyed it!!! 

Kiersten got to be the one picked in the snake show to hold a snake. Only then they switched the snake on her to this massive one. She was VERY brave.








Lynnaea was very unsure, haha.


That was one big gator.

Start of the airboat ride. Luckily, I was smack dab in the middle. Because this driver was CRAZY and mom and Jared were SOAKED by the end!


This is the best one I got of Megan, Lynnaea, Danica and Kiersten behind us.


I think it is HILARIOUS that they were making the exact same face.




Our crazy driver.





Wet! 

I was super surprised at how awesome the kids thought getting wet was. I was nervous they'd be scared or cry. But they grinned and grinned (Will with his eyes shut tight) the entire time. It was pretty awesome to fly across the Everglades with the water spraying at you and the wind blowing. I really, really love air boat rides. If you ever have a chance, definitely try it out. I want to go at least one more time before we move!


This guy gave us a gator show.




She's held a gator before, but she got a little nervous this time.



I need to find the picture Megan took of my mom holding it. It is HILARIOUS. All in all, it was really really fun. We got to walk around and see a lot of gators and crocodiles and birds and things. It was fun just being around the cousins and we had a great time. Then we drove on to the Everglades!