Red/Cyan 3D glasses are needed to view the photos in this post.
Yay! Snowfall warnings. Winter is finally here!
Well, we’ve had snow on the ground since the 18th… of October… but Yay? I can now stay home and cuddle up by the warm fire without feeling guilty.
I mean, I haven’t gone too far from home this year, due to [GENERIC APOCALYPSE], but at least in winter, I don’t usually travel even in a normal year. Last year was the exception. I didn’t take any vacation time, but due to my employer taking HIS vacation, I wasn’t working anyways. And to celebrate my unemployment, I decided to go somewhere off the beaten track, a place few people had ever heard of… the strange and exotic lands of FLORIDA! I doubt anyone has heard of it.
The beaches were beautiful, and well worth the trip(I mean, not financially; I’m still paying off the trip and the bank threatened to sell my kidneys if I don’t keep up payments) but I’m not the type of traveler to sit around and relax on my vacations; I’d much rather explore and see as much as possible. My rule-of-thumb? I should be more tired after my vacation is over than before it. So, I rented a car and drove around the state. I’m also more interested in historical sites and the outdoors than amusement parks, which, as it turns out, is actually not a bad strategy for visiting Florida a week before Christmas. I could be mistaken, but I think that anyone entering an amusement park there at that time of year is lost forever, and haunts the park as a spectre, occasionally appearing to the psychically gifted as a lone face in an endless crowd. And If I get lost, which I’m certain will happen sooner or later, I definitely want it to be on my own.
That’s not to say I’m going to go on and on and on about how I don’t want to look like a tourist, and I want to see the area the way the locals do. I’M A TOURIST! I’m not going to pretend I’m not. I don’t like big crowds, but the thing about a lot of tourist attractions is that they’re attractions for a reason. Yes, I want to see the everglades. Yes, I want to swim in the beaches. And Yes, I want to go on an airboat.
Everglade City met my airboat criteria. The town is small(less than 450 people), and wasn’t busy, although the latter may be due to the ice cold storm from the night before. The temperature even dropped below 50° F(or 10° in real temperature). I hadn’t felt weather that cold since… well, I think most nights at home it drops to that temperature even in summer, and I don’t think northern BC had been above 50° F for two months, but still, it was cold enough for Florida that there weren’t many visitors.
The town is on the Florida coast, but it is less ‘bright sandy beaches’ and more ‘swamps’. Mangrove swamps, to be exact. Which is fine for me; I like exploring different areas, and Mangroves are certainly something I won’t see in BC. The trees thrive in brackish water, where freshwater meets salt. They root underwater, and form dense tree islands.
I thought it might be fun to explore the swamps by swimming around and seeing some of these islands close up, but… I don’t want to sound paranoid, but I think… no, it sounds ridiculous now. Still… Okay, you’re going to laugh at me, but…
…I think the water was staring at me.
An Airboat might have slightly less risk of death. Everglades city has an airboat tour operator, and I booked onto a trip through the Mangroves.
It seemed much safer. The local birds were even watching us, happily cheering us on.
Then into the forests. Dense, dense forests, with narrow channels of water between the Mangroves. That satellite photo above? All that forest around the city?
It’s all Mangrove swamps. Spoiler: Here’s the route the airboat took.
The trees are dense enough that many of the navigable routes are hidden from a satellite or aerial view. This route is accurate; I took a GPS with me. If I get lost in a swamp that wants to eat me, I want to know exactly where I got lost! The water is flowing slowly; Like I said, the freshwater is flowing into the salt water. On occasions where the airboat stopped, you could see a faint, slow current. I wouldn’t have any problem swimming against it… you know, except for being eaten alive by miscellaneous animals. Are there venomous animals too? Probably.
First, we left the airboat docks.
I suppose on busier periods, all those boats are out traveling; I was on the second tour of the day, though(I would have been first, but it was a family that took all the spaces on the first boat, and I was being shunted around because they didn’t want to have an entire boat empty except for me NOT THAT I”M BITTER), and didn’t see any other boats until we were heading back at the end of the trip.
After taking a quick photo of other miscellaneous birds that weren’t my pretty black friends…
Don’t worry, though, my black birdies were circling overhead, vicariously enjoying my explorations. Maybe I should have fed them?
Passing under the main bridge into town, I cleverly deduced that Everglade City was not on the Interstate. After touring around, we went up the… is channel the right word? River? Apparently, I don’t have the vocabulary to describe the geological features of a mangrove swamp. Not in a ‘their beauty is indescribable’ way, but rather a ‘I’ve never needed to describe this type of terrain before’ sort of way. Hang on… doing research.
I am now edukated! PARTAKE OF MY KNOWLEDGE! Mangroves do form ‘Islands’, as I mentioned. They grow in an estuary(where rivers meet the oceans), in underwater terrain, areas where the current is a little slower and the water is shallower, such as sandbars under water. In doing so, they stabilize the area, forcing the flowing water into channels. The flowing water keeps the channels semi-clear, washing away debris; however, as this is on the coast, the tide can flow in and slow the freshwater current, resulting in muddy and murky water flowing back ‘upcurrent’. This mud rests in the mangrove islands, providing nutrients. In time the ‘island’, which consists of trees sticking above water, may get enough mud to become a real island, after which they-
…WHAT HAPPENED TO THAT BOAT?!
I might have been wondering exactly how safe the mangrove swamps were, but the airboat pilot was good at his job. My black birdies could tell I was worried, as one came down and gave me a kiss. He kissed a little hard, and drew blood, but no matter. It made him feel happier!
The Mangrove brush is incredibly dense; once they put down roots, they take over the area.
There are hundreds of mangrove islands, with narrow channels separating them. I would seriously like to spend a day kayaking around, as it seems like you couls lose yourself in the dense forests. Or get lost. Either one.
There was also a very straight channel that I’m sure was manmade; you can see it on the maps above.
After reaching a calm pool(supposedly a much bigger alligator lives around this one), we turned back.
We saw another wrecked boat on the return trip.
My birds flew off to investigate. I wasn’t too upset; I’m sure the shipwrecked boaters were happy to see them. In fact, I even heard screaming; they were yelling with joy!
And that was pretty much it for the trip. The tour company offered other tours, but with limited time and a lot to see, I felt satisfied just viewing the mangroves. I waved goodbye to my friendly birds…
… and went on to… well, that’s another story.
I was impressed with the Mangroves; a floating forest unlike anything I can see in Northern BC. I really wish I could have swam through a forest like that and explored them that way, but I didn’t… at least, not for another six months, when I swam through the floating forests of Northern BC.
I’ll talk about that next time, though.
The above photos were taken with dual Canon SX600 HS cameras.