Report from Days 1, 2, 3

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Let's start with Mass. On a Sunday Mass seems a good place to start. The less said about St. John the Evangelist, the better, it strains charity with no good reason. The Mass was quite fine in between bouts of applause for this that and the other thing and the playing of deplorable sectarian hymns that seem to crop up with every patriotic holiday.

Friday (arrival day)--Arrived at the initial destination about 2:00. In the car I had been listening to Peter Kreeft's lectures on Ethics. After our initial meet and greet--a friend of long standing whom I had not seen in far too long, we did a whirlwind tour of the local area ending with a brief visit to Delnor-Wiggins Pass. This is a lovely stretch of beach that has no large buildings anywhere near it. It has nearby and estuary from a mangrove swamp so the ocean water is tea-colored. More, we saw a turtle nest carefully marked with all sorts of notices about it.

Yesterday (Saturday)--when I have a chance I will dumb down some of the photos I took in yesterdays excursion to Corkscrew Swamp, a National Audubon Wildlife refuge and a gorgeous place to visit. I wasn't certain about it, but everyone I spoke to recommended it. There is a 2.5 mile boardwalk through Pond Cypress, Wet Prairie, Central Swamp, and Lettuce Lake. In the course of our walk I stood about two feet away from a six foot long alligator and photographed him two or three dozen times. Also saw some Giant Swallowtails and Spicebush swallowtails, brown anoles, 5 lined-skinks, and a strange black skink with two brown "racing stripes." Also photographed swamp hibiscus, alligator flag and a number of other types of wildflowers. Visiting South Florida? Put this on your "must do" list. The walk has a short version for those not up to two and a half miles in 95-98 degree whether with Tropic of Cancer sun beating down. (Personally, that's one of the reasons I live in Florida, there's nothing better in the world.) One of the best things about this excursion was that the place announced that it was not a big mosquito area, and they were mostly right.

Today we decided to go look at Marco Island (a distinct disappointment) and Everglades City, a real surprise, about which more later. On the way to Everglades City we saw a brown sign pointing left off the road and we pulled into the Fakahatchee Strand Big Cypress Bend Boardwalk. This place was deet-city and drop dead gorgeous. You could hear the bellow of alligators and the wrapping of a pileated woodpecker. Basically it's a two-thousand foot boardwalk out into a "strand" which is a very thin line of deep forest in "the river of grass." Thus there were vines, and tangles, and strangler figs and six different kinds of orchids. Unfortunately, I did not get to see any blossoms. Saw two small gators (which was a pretty good indication that there were no large gators in the near vicinity). On the way out to Everglades city we saw some larger beasties in the sawgrass and nearby canals.

Everglades City--voted Florida's top Rural community of 1998. Charming. That's the only word for it. We went to the Museum of the Everglades which we expected to be closed. I was greeted by an absolutely delightful woman who not only invited me into the museum (which was open because of July 4th Festivities) , but who proceeded to invite my friend and me to attend the town's July 4th celebration. Said celebration started with a parade that featured Mickosukee Indians (or perhaps Seminoles) with a person dressed as an Episcopalian Deaconess who served among them for some thirty years. Then a variety of swamp buggies, atvs, and classic cars followed. Some really amazing classic cars. This was followed by a barbecue and fireworks in the late evening.

My friend and I chose, however, to move on down the road to a small island called Chokoloskee. There was a general store that was established in 1895 looking out over Chokoloskee bay and the Ten Thousand Islands--sheer delight as you scanned the horizon and saw micro-mangrove islands, mini mangrove islands, midi mangrove islands, and maxi mangrove islands--standing in fact on one of these. Chokoloskee island started its life as a mangrove island. The sea breeze was cool and swift and drove away the majority of the mosquito population.

I didn't mention that we started the day by going out to my friend's property where they had recently dumped a bunch of fill, from which I was able to cull some Arca, Turitella, Dosinia, Acropora, and assorted other corals and gastropod fossils. The pile was just full to the brim with them. It's a real shame that Samuel wasn't here today because he would have loved finding all of the shells amongst the rocks and finding rocks that were in fact fossils.

A wonderful trip thus far. Already slipping into relaxation mode--but then how could one do otherwise amid this splendor? Both yesterday and today the weather was just about perfect--a trifle warm (in the upper 90s) but a bit of a breeze and not the usual late afternoon thundershowers one expects with midsummer Florida.

More later.

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About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Steven Riddle published on July 3, 2005 6:56 AM.

Prayer Requests was the previous entry in this blog.

Day 4--The Koreshan Settlement--Estero, Florida is the next entry in this blog.

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