Sunday, 28 July 2013

Shark Valley

Shark Valley is part of the Everglades National Park along Highway 41, on the Tamiami Trail, and no I can't remember how it got to be called Shark Valley. 
Our previous trips, this was our third, have always been in the winter so we were interested to see how things would be different at this time of the year.

There are two ways of exploring Shark Valley, one is to take the tram tour; the other is to cycle round the 15 mile paved loop trail.   Partway round the loop there is an observation tower, it’s an easy climb to the top and you have wide ranging views out across the ‘Everglades’ and down into the ‘gator’ pool below.
However you arrive at the observation tower, you’re warned not to leave any zipped packs unattended as they will be broken into.   By crows!  The clever, or pesky, (depending on whether or not it’s your pack they’ve been rummaging through) critters have learnt how to undo zips in search of food. 

We usually take the tram tour as we’ve found that the guides are informative and interesting, they tell you about the ‘River of Grass’, what animals you might or might not see and usually see animals before you do. 

The tram road heading off into the distance.

One thing we discovered this time is that the Everglades have a problem with boa constrictors that have been released into the wild; apparently they eat almost everything in sight and breed like rabbits.   At present, apart from hunting them, which is extremely dangerous and only kills a few, they have no real idea how to get rid of them and stop them continuing to disturb the natural ecosystem. 

When we arrived it was a hot sunny day, very humid though and as we climbed the observation tower we could see a thunderstorm in the distance that seemed to be heading our way. 

We saw quite a few alligators, some baby alligators, mother alligators are like most mothers, extremely fierce, anhingas, herons, storks but thankfully no boa constrictors! 

I think this was a tri-coloured heron, but I could well be wrong.

This guy swam very fast towards us I really hoped he wasn’t thinking of a lunchtime snack!

Not sure what type of bird this was.

I am pretty sure this is an anhinga drying its wings.

One difference we found visiting in May, (yes I am still catching up) was that we didn’t see as many alligators as there was more water than during the winter and luckily for us the mosquitos were absent as well. 

As we were staying overnight in Florida City, this, of course, necessitated a side trip to our favourite fruit stand ‘Robert is Here’ for, in my opinion, the best key lime milkshake in the world. 

Needless to say on our way we drove straight into the storm and my ‘short cut’ that seemed totally logical, (this, of course, is what happens when you don’t put your glasses on to actually read the map properly, because after all you’ve been lots of times so you know where you’re going, don’t you?    wrong!!!) took us way out of the way round countless country roads before we finally arrived.   Of course, by then the rain was so heavy we had to wait in the car for quite a while before making a run for it.   It was still pouring down once we’d got our milkshakes so any thought of sitting outside in the sunshine to enjoy them disappeared as trying to dodge the rain drops (impossible!) we hotfooted it back to the car.   Was it worth the detour in the pouring rain just for a milkshake?   Absolutely, after all who knows when we’ll be back this way again, we certainly don’t.

Have fun, we are!

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