|I was up so high I thought I was going to get a nose bleed!!!|
I rode about 40 miles to Royal Palm to walk the Anhinga trail and the Gumbo Limbo trail, which we were told not to miss by several people. This is the place to see the critters of the Everglades. The swamp areas are drying up this time of year, and many, many animals have accumulated in this area, that is all visible from a long boardwalk and trail. We saw dozens of alligators, uncountable numbers of birds and fish, and took many great pictures and videos that will say more than words can. Great place!
|view from the boardwalk|
|Gators and birds are friends during the day - at night, birds are dinner!|
|Just hanging out on the boardwalk!|
|Let me get this right, you want me to pose by this 8 foot alligator? Right, this is close enough!|
|This is the Anhinga. They swim underwater to catch fish, so then they stand in the sun with wings spread to dry!|
|Close-up of the Anhinga.|
|See, I don't make HIM get too close to the gators!|
I took a opportunity to prove that chivalry was, indeed, dead. Four twenty something French speaking girls ask us to take pictures of them, and then they asked me to walk past this big alligator that was very near the trail, because I was the 'man'. I took offense to this statement and told her that she should go first, because she 'would taste better.' Pam just looked at me as the girls passed first. As it turned out, the alligator really didn't pay any attention to us at all, as seemed to be the case with all the animals, who seemed to be quite comfortable with all the people.
While I was riding, Pam took a tour of a Nike missile site, left from the Cold War, complete with one of the original missile.
Pam - Many people, including myself are unaware that at one time there were 4 Nike missile sites in lower Florida (well they were the closest to Cuba....). One was in Key Largo and the big one was in the Everglades! When I was doing the research for our trip into the Everglades, I discovered the information about the Nike site, and found out that for the last 2 years, the National Park Service has been giving tours at the site. Being of the age that can remember the Cuban missile crisis, bomb shelters and practicing drills in school (like hiding in the basement of my junior high school would have saved me from the A-bomb!) I had an interest in seeing the Nike site. The tour was guided by a highly knowledgeable ranger who was retired Coast Guard with a wealth of stories. He talked about the Cuban missile crisis and how the US reacted and set-up sites all around the country, but the Florida sites were different, espescialy the Everglades site. Unlike other places in the US, they did not make underground silos, they kept the missiles in "barns" and just rolled them out. They were the last defense (and closest to Cuba). The site today is pretty much as it was left when it closed in 1979, but they did receive a deactivated Hercules missile two months ago that is now of display. If you ever make a trip to the Everglades, I highly recommend the tour, it takes about 1.5 hours and it is a step back into a crucial, cold war time in our lives!
|This was the original sign posted at the entrance to the site - note the use of deadly force!|
|It is now a national historic place.|
|This is one of 3 missile barns. At its peak, the site held 12 missiles, 4 per barn.|
|Tracks outside of barn. To launch the missile, it (launcher and missile) was HAND pushed out on tracks, aimed and fired!|
|This Hercules missile arrived approximately 2 months ago. This is what was used during the later stages of the Cold War.|