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  • Writer's pictureInger and Jeff Latreille

A Beautiful Alternative

~Wednesday, January 27, 2021~

Day 227

Love spending time on the water. So it pained me not to be able to bring our kayaks. They’re just too big. So we opt for renting which isn’t too expensive. Since this is our last day in The Everglades (for now), we wanted to paddle the Nine-Mile Pond Canoe Trail. And it is just that. There are white tube markers in the water that mark your “road” in a lake style setting rather than a “small” pond. A few days ago at the Coe Visitor Center we were directed to check in at the Flamingo Visitor Center then drive back to the Nine-Mile Pond area to launch. Well, one thing they failed to tell us was to book in advance. We thought on a weekday, there would be plenty of canoes. In fact when we drove by the launch site, it looked there were plenty to be had. Not to make the trip a complete waste of time and the 35 miles we drove to get there, we decided to rent right at the Flamingo marina and kayak the canal instead. And it did not disappoint. We signed up for a 2-hour session renting (2) sit-on-top kayaks instead of canoes (personal preference), which was in very calm salty water. Before our launch, we went back to the car to pick up our cooler loaded with yummy snacks and ice-cold beverages only to realize we’d left it in the trailer. Ugh! So off to the snack shack we go.

Within minutes of being in the water, a passing boat pointed out a resting crocodile about 15 feet from where we were paddling. This would be our first crocodile experience since we’ve been primarily around fresh water, which alligators prefer. And this one was a big boy.

Generally speaking, I believe crocodiles can get up to 2 feet bigger than alligators.

Since we missed our paddling with the manatees opportunity at Manatee Springs State Park a few weeks ago, today made up for it on the Flamingo Canal.

Though the water is not as clear as Manatee Springs, we could spot their bodies floating to the surface, munching on vegetation along the canal (see video). These “sea cows” are so sweet and gentle and have no apparent run-ins with crocs or alligators. The largest cause of fatalities to the manatee are humans (boat-propellers being one of them).

Since most of the canal is bordered by large tree roots and draping trees right to the water, we didn’t see any crocodiles sunning themselves, nor did we see any peeking eyes from the surface of the water; partly relieved and partly disappointed. We had a little wind heading back to the dock but nothing too bad.

It was such a beautiful day, we decided to hang out a little longer at the marina where we found the perfect picnic table (with no lunch 😡) right under a shady, gumbo limbo tree and a view of Florida Bay. Finally with cell reception, it was the perfect spot to call my mom. We had a good time catching up with her as usual, but it was so strange hearing about the 60 mph winds and 35 degree weather they’re having, as opposed to our temperate, tropical paradise.

Before leaving the Flamingo area, we drove through the campgrounds to check the scene, to see if we would prefer to stay there vs. Long Pine on our next visit. They’re pretty nice, but very different from Long Pine. More open and spread out, it doesn’t have the tropical vibe that Long Pine does. But if you prefer hookups, then Flamingo is for you. Not every site has them, but it looks like they have quite a few to choose from. Another plus is their close proximity to the marina, so if you’re a water lover, having Flamingo as a homebase is a perfect choice if you can accept that you won’t be near any conveniences with the exception of gas. They do have a gas station at the marina when you’re in desperate need ($3.75/gallon-ouch!). Diesel is also available.

It was nice getting back to our campsite at a good time (around 4:30) to relax and unwind while aiming for an earlier dinner. Tonight’s selection…..short ribs for Jeff (a 3 hour low and slow meal), while I prepared a delicious salad and made my homemade cream of celery soup. Hot soup in the tropics? I know, I know. But since I’m one to get bothered by wasting food, I was trying to use up some soon to be expired celery. And it was delicious!! Score on the short ribs…..a sad 5 out of 10 😢. Let’s blame it on the RV oven, Walmart meat, and ingredient substitutions, not Chef Jeff’s awesome culinary skills. And dinner time...later as usual.

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