They're Baaaaack! But I will get to that in a bit.
We left the Florida Keys on Sunday morning. The weather had been perfect, but it rained on Saturday night so once again my tent was wet when I packed it up. I really need an RV.
We headed west on the US 41, also known as the Tamiami Trail. The road bordered Everglades National Park and passed through Big Cypress National Preserve. We eventually arrived at Collier-Seminole State Park. We set up camp and headed into town for taco fixings.
They have a historic visitor center, as well as one of the dredges that was used to dig the Tamiami Canal:
Experience the natural beauty and wildlife of the Everglades, as well as a forest of tropical trees at Collier-Seminole State Park. The 7,271-acre park lies partly within the great mangrove swamp of southern Florida, one of the largest mangrove swamps in the world. Collier-Seminole also contains one of the three original stands of the rare royal palm in Florida. The park is the site of a National Historic Mechanical Engineering Landmark, the last existing Bay City Walking Dredge. Built in 1924, it was used to build the Tamiami Trail Highway (U.S. 41) through the Everglades and Big Cypress Swamp, linking Tampa and Miami and opening southwest Florida to travelers.
Visitors to Collier-Seminole have the opportunity to explore the park's wilderness in many ways, including hiking, bicycling or canoeing. Collier-Seminole provides canoe rentals, as well as a boat ramp with access to the Blackwater River, where anglers can fish for both saltwater and freshwater fishing. Collier-Seminole offers full-facility, primitive and youth camping. The picnic areas have pavilions and grills for use on a first-come, first-served basis.
After having tacos for dinner on Sunday, we decided to be reckless and have them again for breakfast on Monday. So while Glenn was in the shower, I started heating up the meat, cutting up some cabbage, and putting out the cheese, salsa, and tortillas. Everything was set so I made a quick trip to the bathroom.
When I walked back to the campsite, I was just in time to see a raccoon scampering off with the tortillas. I chased him into the brush, but he got away without dropping the bag. So we ended up having to use hamburger buns instead.
But I guess the raccoon was still hungry. He came back about 30 minutes later and brought a friend. I guess they wanted some cheese and salsa and taco meat. Check it out:
See the bag on the table next to the lantern in the photo above? Apparently Rocky Raccoon did:
Florida's motto for their State Parks is "Experience the Real Florida." I think that should be changed to "Experience the Real Hungry Florida." Between the mosquitos, no-see-ums, bees, wasps, and raccoons, we have fed it pretty darn well.
Tuesday we went canoeing in the Blackwater River. We launched from the boat ramp in the campground:
Right off the bat we found a gator:
What they do is stare at you and then slowly submerge like a submarine:
Makes one wonder where they are hiding. I read that they can swim 20 mph and hold their breath for something like 30 minutes or more. Ok. I can't paddle that fast.
So we headed down the river:
And found another gator:
Right below the Blue Heron you can see it. Farther down the river, the mangroves start forming a tunnel:
Then it really gets cool. This is what I thought canoeing in Florida would be like:
Here is what the mangrove roots look like:
There is no dry ground, so the trees are supported by a network of roots that go straight into the water. We head back towards the campground:
And finally the boat ramp is in sight:
Oh, and a few obligatory bird pictures. A White Egret and yet another Blue Heron. I tried getting close to the Heron, but he took off:
Wednesday will find us heading to Hillsborough River State Park with a few stops along the way. Ta Ta for now.
Regards, Park Ranger