October 2006
South Florida, USA
From 12 to 21 October 2006 we stayed at Key Largo in Florida and made several dives and visited the keys and Everglades National Park. We saw many alligators, birds, sharks, rays, deer and manatees.
 - (1970-01-01 2006) - Photo Album Amy Evenstad and Arthur de Wolf
1/29 We arrived late on Thursday 12 October at Miami International Airport at the same time as Amy's parents who flew in from Chicago. We picked up our rental car and drove to Key Largo, where we had rented this nice private residence.
 - (1970-01-01 2006) - Photo Album Amy Evenstad and Arthur de Wolf
2/29 The next day we drove to Everglades National Park. This is our rental car, a Chrysler minivan.
 - (1970-01-01 2006) - Photo Album Amy Evenstad and Arthur de Wolf
3/29 First we went to the Royal Palm area where we did the Anhinga and Gumbo Limbo trails. We saw several alligators, but not as many as on our visit here in 2005, when it was mating season and there were alligators all over the place.
 - (1970-01-01 2006) - Photo Album Amy Evenstad and Arthur de Wolf
4/29 This is West Lake, near Flamingo in the Everglades.
 - (1970-01-01 2006) - Photo Album Amy Evenstad and Arthur de Wolf
5/29 On Saturday we drove south along the Overseas Highway and stopped here at Long Key State Park.
 - (1970-01-01 2006) - Photo Album Amy Evenstad and Arthur de Wolf
6/29 On Marathon Key we visited Crane Point, which is a historic site with a small museum and nature trail. There were many iguanas walking around the park.
 - (1970-01-01 2006) - Photo Album Amy Evenstad and Arthur de Wolf
7/29 Crane Point had a Wild Bird Center that rescues and rehabilitates injured and orphaned birds for eventual release into the wild. Most of these pelicans are here because their pouch was ripped by fishing hooks.
 - (1970-01-01 2006) - Photo Album Amy Evenstad and Arthur de Wolf
8/29 On Sunday morning when we had breakfast on our balcony (with this beautiful view) we saw seven manatees come by through the canals and passed our house.
 - (1970-01-01 2006) - Photo Album Amy Evenstad and Arthur de Wolf
9/29 We drove again to Everglades National Park and directly to Flamingo to get the 9:30am Pelican boat tour. From Key Largo it was about 45 minutes to the entrance of the park and then another hour to reach Flamingo.
 - (1970-01-01 2006) - Photo Album Amy Evenstad and Arthur de Wolf
10/29 We saw many Osprey on our week in Florida; this one is near Flamingo.
 - (1970-01-01 2006) - Photo Album Amy Evenstad and Arthur de Wolf
11/29 The 2-hour boat tour took us down Buttonwood Canal and to Coot Bay Pond and Whitewater Bay. You can sometimes see dolphins, shark and manatees here, but we didn't see any. We did see two alligators and a lot of birds.
 - (1970-01-01 2006) - Photo Album Amy Evenstad and Arthur de Wolf
12/29 After the boat ride our guide showed us an American Crocodile near the Flamingo docks (there are only 500 to 1,200 left in the wild). On our way back down road 9336 to leave the park we stopped again at Royal Palms to have a short walk at the Aningha Trail.
 - (1970-01-01 2006) - Photo Album Amy Evenstad and Arthur de Wolf
13/29 At the main visitor center Arthur got a cancellation stamp for his National Parks passport.
 - (1970-01-01 2006) - Photo Album Amy Evenstad and Arthur de Wolf
14/29 Near the visitor center we saw this tiny ruby-throated hummingbird. The next day, Monday, we drove Amy's parents to Miami airport for their return to Chicago, and the rest of the day we shopped at malls around Miami.
 - (1970-01-01 2006) - Photo Album Amy Evenstad and Arthur de Wolf
15/29 On Tuesday we made two dives at Molasses Reef with Rainbow Reef dive center. This was very disappointing, as our guide was constantly poking animals and touching coral. One time the divemaster took off one fin and stuck it in a hole to chase out a lobster.
 - (1970-01-01 2006) - Photo Album Amy Evenstad and Arthur de Wolf
16/29 The other divers in the group were also touching and even breaking off (!) coral. We couldn't believe this, as Rainbow Reef was supposed to be one of the best dive centers on Key Largo. :o(
 - (1970-01-01 2006) - Photo Album Amy Evenstad and Arthur de Wolf
17/29 Trying to forget the horrible diving experience of the day before, we decided not to dive on Wednesday and drove down the Overseas Highway toward Key West. On this bridge we saw two huge southern stingrays swim by.
 - (1970-01-01 2006) - Photo Album Amy Evenstad and Arthur de Wolf
18/29 This is Arthur on a part of the old bridge at Bahia Honda State Park. In the background is a small deserted island.
 - (1970-01-01 2006) - Photo Album Amy Evenstad and Arthur de Wolf
19/29 Here we are on Big Pine Key at the Key Deer Wildlife Refuge. Key Deer are the smallest of all white-tailed deer, and they are very endangered.
 - (1970-01-01 2006) - Photo Album Amy Evenstad and Arthur de Wolf
20/29 There are only 300 to 800 key deer left, only on these keys, and about two are killed by cars every week! It will not be long until these small deer are extinct, so they are doing everything to save them, including moving groups to other keys.
 - (1970-01-01 2006) - Photo Album Amy Evenstad and Arthur de Wolf
21/29 At the end of the day we arrived at Key West, where we had a short walk and dinner.
 - (1970-01-01 2006) - Photo Album Amy Evenstad and Arthur de Wolf
22/29 The next day we decided to try diving again, but this time with Quiescence dive center and without a guide. The boat was very small, with only two other divers.
 - (1970-01-01 2006) - Photo Album Amy Evenstad and Arthur de Wolf
23/29 This was a great experience, and we had two very nice dives. The crew of the boat was very friendly and helpful, and we saw many colorful fish and even a nurse shark!
 - (1970-01-01 2006) - Photo Album Amy Evenstad and Arthur de Wolf
24/29 On Friday, our last full day in Florida, we drove to the Tamiami Trail and entered Everglades National Park at the Shark Valley entrance, where a huge alligator was laying on the road.
 - (1970-01-01 2006) - Photo Album Amy Evenstad and Arthur de Wolf
25/29 Shark Valley has a 15-mile loop road that can be hiked on foot, by bike or with a tram. We decided to rent bikes.
 - (1970-01-01 2006) - Photo Album Amy Evenstad and Arthur de Wolf
26/29 After 7 miles, at the far south end of the loop road, stands a tall observation tower that gives beautiful panoramic views of the park. This is a view from the tower of the road that we biked on.
 - (1970-01-01 2006) - Photo Album Amy Evenstad and Arthur de Wolf
27/29 When we arrived at the tower we heard something run away in the bushes. At first we thought it was a deer, but when we saw it run away we saw it was a very large pig. A ranger later told us they hadn't seen pigs at Shark Valley for a very long time, and they are actually exotic animals left behind from the early settlers.
 - (1970-01-01 2006) - Photo Album Amy Evenstad and Arthur de Wolf
28/29 In the afternoon we had a brief stop at Homestead Bayside Park where we had this view of the Atlantic Ocean.
 - (1970-01-01 2006) - Photo Album Amy Evenstad and Arthur de Wolf
29/29 On our last evening at Key Largo we sat on our balcony scanning the canals for manatee, but we didn't see any. We did see from our balcony many doves, two woodpeckers and a parakeet.