We visited a tour company the other day. They had airboat tours, canoe trips and almost any kind of tour you can imagine to see this area. They are an independent company but still located within the Preserve. We didn't do a tour as such, but they also have a 'petting zoo' of sorts located in the back of their building.  Here is Michel holding a baby alligator. It sure was a cute little thing - hard to believe it will grow into a huge, menacing creature!! But we have learned that they usually won't bother you, if you don't feed them!!!

Michel made friends with a couple of birds - Here he is 'talking' to a cockatoo.

Funny thing is, you'd almost think they were carrying on a conversation!!

Then there was this huge parrot. He had such beautiful coloring.... Michel said he was very heavy and his claws were quite sharp.

(Reminds me of a parrot/pirate joke) ha! ha!

This is more my speed -
I'm not a 'bird' person, so as much as the cockatoo wanted me to "hold" him, I just couldn't do it....
and I've never had the urge to hold a reptile
But I was A-Okay in the pen with the turtle... just as long as he didn't think my red-painted toenails were strawberries!!

There were 3 or 4 cages of snakes too, pythons - big ones!! Nobody asked to hold any one of them that's for sure! 

Point of Interest:  Pythons are not indigenous to Florida (I never knew that) - they began as pets, and when they got too large the pet owners released them into the swampy areas of Florida. They made the Everglades their home and began reproducing. Now they are over-populated. In fact there is 'open season' in January to hunt and kill pythons!! 

December 29, 2012

Sweetwater Strand is one of the deepest strands
along the Loop Road.
The Loop Road is a 24 mile long scenic drive through some of the more remote areas of the Big Cypress Preserve. The scenery is mostly cypress swamp, which are flooded forests in the summer, but mostly dry in the winter, except for the areas of lowest elevation - the '"cypress strands". There is usually wildlife in these strands. Alligators, and many different species of birds know this is a good source of fish. We did see a lot of alligators!! They are everywhere.......

There is a point along this road called the Middle of Nowhere. Being the midpoint of Loop Road it was said to be marked with signs. What a disappointment - no sign depicting the Middle of Nowhere!! It was a slow drive (15 mph most places), but we enjoyed the scenery and the wildlife along the way.

We spent the afternoon in Miami, went to lunch then a movie!!

December 22, 2012

The Blessings of Peace
The Beauty of Hope
The Spirit of Love
The Comfort of Faith

 May these be your gifts this Christmas Season.
Let the spirit overflow from your heart and spill over to all your dear ones.
May the miracle of Christmas fill your heart with warmth and love.
Wishing you Merry Christmas

December 11, 2012

Reindeer Games ?

No - not games ----- painting.....
a small group of VIP's got together today to paint reindeer faces on the 'boots' of palm leaves.  They will be used to decorate the meeting room for the Christmas gathering.

Here is a group shot of the finished product - 14 reindeer (I think) and Rudolph!
I think I got the names of the ladies correct. The only one I'm unsure of is Maddie....
Anyway, we had a good time, and a few laughs.....

(l to r) Myself, Melissa, Maddie, Arlene, Peg, Cookie (front)

November 29, 2012 - 02

In the evening we walked around Duval Street, which is really the only shopping district in the Keys. But there were all kinds of galleries, sidewalk cafes, souvenier shops, open-air bars, jewelery stores and boutiques stretching more than a dozen city blocks. There are several well known brand-name stores, like Banana Republic and Birkenstock, but most of the places are owned by locals and are "infused with a salty-sweet Key West flavor" you won't find anywhere else!!

Sloppy Joes Bar on Duval Street is where Ernest Hemmingway used to hang out. There is a lot of memorabilia honoring him in this bar, BUT everywhere you go in Key West, there is Ernest Hemmingway "stuff".

Key West is also where Jimmy Buffet began the original "Margaritaville"! Now they are EVERYWHERE!! But he started here first!

Key West is only 90 miles from Cuba at it's most southerly point.

November 29, 2012 - 1

Key West, Florida

The Florida Keys resemble a broken necklace, each island a charm on a 125 mile chain. There are 1700 islands linked together by more than 40 bridges, the longest bridge being the 7-mile bridge which connects Marathon to Big Pine Keys. Key West is the most well known and the most popular choice for vacationers. Key West measures only 2 miles wide and 4 miles long, but it is just brimming with things to do.

We arrived in Key West this morning, too early to check into our hotel, and while we were driving around we happened by the home of (author) Ernest Hemmingway. So we decided it was a good time to take the tour.

Hemmingway purchased the 1851 Spanish colonial-style mansion in 1931. The house, set it a lush tropical garden planted by the author, is home to more than 50 cats, all descendants of Hemmingways' felines. He loved cats and has a memorial outside in his garden for all the cats who've passed away.....

He named his cats after celebrities!!

November 27, 2012


Say hello to our resident alligator.....
This fella lives in the pond here at Midway campground, but so far we haven't seen much of him. He doesn't show his face very often, but apparently he's been out walking around the park from time to time, though not since we've been here - thank God!! Don't want to get too close to this guy, he looks mean!!
The other day we learned there are two alligators living in this pond. The other one is smaller than this one, but we haven't seen him yet.
This guy was walking through the park today. He's a snapping turtle and he measured about 18 inches long from tip to tip. Don't want to get too close to him either....

November 22, 2012


We enjoyed a wonderful Thanksgiving pot luck with the other volunteers. The Rangers were also included in this feast!