There is now a family tradition of visiting Everglades National Park in the most mosquito infested time of the year. Scott had the opportunity to do so when he was a kid and he has now passed on the beautiful tradition to our children. When Scott was a kid he even had the opportunity to camp in the ninety degree, high-humidity heat and go on a hike. We gave our kids the same opportunity today, but somehow they didn’t bite. No pun intended. Okay. It was totally intended. We were very underdressed compared to the others, less than ten, who also joined us at the Flamingo Visitor Center on a beautiful Saturday. Many of the national parks we visit our swamped on the weekend. Again pun totally intended. The experts at Flamingo Visitor Center all had on long sleeves, cargo pants, hats, and nets. We coated ourselves in bug spray and suntan lotion, but somehow we were still walking tasty morsels for the mosquitos. Every now and then I might exaggerate on a few things, so let’s check the Skeeter Meter at the Ernest F. Coe Visitor Center, the first visitor station that we stopped at.
Hmm… It appears the mosquitos are only between Ruthless and Severe. What does it say in the little note section? “Mosquito intensity in/around Flamingo is much higher than in the rest of the park.” The Everglades cover an expansive area and we are headed right to the only section they mention as being highly intense. Hmm… How bad could it be?
The first people we saw in the mostly empty parking lot were running and waving their limbs squealing as they ran from their car to the visitors’ center. This could be what the ranger at the Coe Center said, “You’ll be fine out on the water, but getting into the water…well, you’re in for a real surprise.”
Canoe trip from Flamingo Visitors’ Center into Florida Bay in Everglades National Park 11:15 – 1:15
We were close to the same line of latitude as Key Largo. The mosquitos really got us when we crossed the grass in the parking lot. This picture makes me laugh because it was about at this point that I was squirming every which way trying to bat off the skeeters while Brooke thoughtfully took her time getting into the canoe. I was trusting the ranger when he said that once we got on the water the blood sucking would stop. Thankfully, once we got on the boat and into the bay the beauty and peace unfolded before us.
The Flamingo Visitor Center was a long pink building. This part in between the mangrove trees was where we saw the most jumping fish. We also saw heron, osprey, and a pink roseate spoonbill. The spoonbill looks like a short flamingo. There were a lot more varieties of birds that we saw, but we aren’t expert enough to know exactly what they were. Our favorite bird was the tiniest bird that sounded like some small children we know when they don’t want to wake up early in the morning. Despite being a tiny bird its sound filled the entire bay.
There were jumping fish all over the place. They were so fast it was hard to catch a glimpse of them let alone a picture. Cody said, “I think the fish keep coming near the boat because they are catching mosquitos and I am mosquito ice cream.” We still haven’t figure out any scientific evidence as to why, but for some reason the mosquitos would much rather munch on Cody and I than Scott or Brooke. Scott used to tease that it was what we ate, but even when we eat the same foods they still prefer Cody and I over Brooke and Scott. So if you ever need mosquito protection Cody and I can serve as your mosquito distraction/protection.
We were bird watching the entire trip. One came in our direction and Cody said, “Look Dad! It’s coming at us like a flying torpedo!”
We had to coordinate our paddling efforts because now with the kids being bigger and actually paddling more, we were all knocking into each other up front. Scott was sitting comfortably with a spacious area in the back. He would splash us every now and then as the sun was warm. We talking about the need to move into two boats instead of one now that the kids are older. We might be looking into sea kayaks.
The camera was a little water covered after I splashed backwards with the bailer. It is supposed to be used to get water out of the boat, but I figured Scott needed some cooling off too.
There are at least ten other pictures of me using expert ninja skills to attack the mosquitos that followed us into the van. We were getting rid of mosquitos the entire two and a half hour ride back home. Even when we arrived home some still flew out like they were waiting for their stop.
I was still attacking the mosquitos as was the rest of the family and Cody was plugged into his tablet. This is why we save tablets for car rides only. Life could easily pass you by while you’re on a device. I mean who wouldn’t want to have the memory of being trapped in a van with thousands of mosquitos?
The ranger said, “Between the barracudas, sharks, and crocs I wouldn’t suggest anyone swim in there.” Good thing we decided to only dip our legs in off the side quickly. Cody did ask to swim several times. I may be over cautious at times, but I made the good choice not to let him swim this time. The orange cone just cracked me up. It was a collapsible cone. It was a good idea, but in its old age it looked more like a flopped over witch hat than a cone.
This plaque was noting that the Everglades is a World Heritage Site. Even though it seems I am pointing at the sign in the picture, I failed to notice the sign because I was instead watching lizards with Cody. Priorities. Too funny. After some investigating I discovered that as a family we have been to twelve of the twenty-three.
List of World Heritage Sites – http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/
On the way home we visited a Walmart in Miami with an escalator. Not far from the Walmart we also saw a man driving his wheelchair scooter down the road while using his cane for extra speed. We headed to home base. I made some Jiffy Jambalaya while Scott made peach cobbler and we watched part of Apollo 13 while snuggled on the couch as a family.
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