We had already had Christmas, but the rest of the world had not. So we were on the hunt for something fun to do that would be open on December 25th. Luckily for us, the Everglades are open 365 days a year (we trust it now, even though we were worried both on Thanksgiving and then again on Christmas that maybe, just maybe, our sources were wrong...haha) and we were ready for a family bike ride!
Walking into a visitor's center with Sterling is like a kid walking into a candy shop. He LOVES everything about road trips and wants to stop at every single pull-off and check out all the signs and things. I used to roll my eyes at all of that--my dad always tried to get to Canada the FASTEST possible and never stopped for anything!--but I've started to get the feel of longer road trips and enjoying the memory. I couldn't help but catch the spirit and start to really get into our visit to the Everglades. It made it feel like we were traveling for the break!
|We are here!|
They had some really great exhibits in the visitor's center, so I was glad we stopped by for a bathroom break!
I had no IDEA there were black panthers in the Everglades!!!!
We saw one of these signs before we hit the Visitors Center, so when we were paying I kept bugging Sterling to ask the lady what to do if we saw one. But then, because we wanted to buy a year pass (it's $40 and a day pass is $20, and we want to go more than once, so it just seemed to make sense) and they didn't have any, she let us in for FREE!! In all the excitement, we forgot to figure out what to do in case of a black panther encounter. I thought it'd be fine until we saw the SECOND panther crossing sign!!!!!?!
We took a little detour to see the Nike Missile site that was the sole US area dedicated to the Cuban Missile crisis. But the road was blocked. Sterling was sad cause he was pretty interested in the learning about the history. Maybe next time. Also, the bike trail I had researched ended up being underwater (thanks a lot crazy week of rain that dumped 26 inches of rain when South Florida usually gets about 2 inches of rain in December) so we tried the Old Ingraham Highway. It is something like 11 miles one way, but we were just going to go to the first marker, at 3.5 miles, and eat lunch. We hit water before that and had to turn around, unfortunately. But I don't think it was too much further. So we got a pretty great ride in!
|These tall reeds were my favorite. They were endless and the wind sounded so beautiful!|
|I know, terrible photo--I was biking--but as we got closer to civilization, the more jungle-like the vegetation got. This was when I worried about a panther! Haha!|
|We biked along this road for awhile.|
We stacked all our bikes away and headed to another little station to hike a trail. We thought .3 miles would be breezy--I didn't realize how much the bike trail had worn me out!!! Also, it was a little disappointing. Two separate park rangers told us that usually the gators are just STACKED on top of each other on this trail at this time of year, but because of how much rain we've had, they don't need to come so close for food, so we didn't see a single one. But we did see several HUGE blue herons, anhingas, and a couple other pretty birds.
I was SUPER surprised at how many people were there. It was a PACKED parking lot! I guess Christmas Day in the Everglades isn't so random as we thought?!
On our way into the park we passed Robert Is Here. I've been twice, but Sterling has never had the opportunity. It was open when we headed home, and we were all DYING of heat, so we stopped to get a shake to share. I really love strawberry shakes. But every time I go I feel like I just HAVE to get some of the crazy tropical fruit they have. They have the largest selection of tropical fruit in the U. S. (or so Sterling read). I got key lime last time because it's supposed to be their best. It was tasty. But tart. I like sweet shakes. So I asked this lady what their best kind was that was SWEET. She said their most popular was guanoabana. I got it. I didn't like it at all. HAHA. Next time, I'll stick with strawberry, or blackberry. But Sterling LOVED it and so did Molly (Will took a bite and then went off to play, so I don't think he liked it either, or he would have been right there until it was gone.) so I was at least happy that Sterling had a great first experience there!
We looked around at the animals in the petting zoo, tasted a handful of kinds of honey so Sterling could experience it, and headed out. A great ending to a spectacular Christmas day!
|I love Molly's squatting!|
Now to get a bike rack so Will isn't squished in the back with bikes all over his lap! Haha.