December 1 - Everglades City, FL

Welcome to the Everglades!

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We are in the big swamp now. I got off the bike at a rest area for three minutes, and I got 20 mosquito bites. The mosquitos here are unbelievable. But they can't catch you while you are riding.

We are in the town of Everglades City, which is all by itself on the edge of the national park. Everglades City apparently was once a railroad town. I have no idea what they were thinking when they ran a railroad down here, but we ate in a nice restaraunt next door to the motel that is in old train staion.

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The big activities here seem to be taking airboat rides around the Everglades. Here is an old airboat we passed next to the turnoff for Everglades City.

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We heard one of these go by. It's as loud as a propeller-driven cargo plane taking off. I don't think anybody is going to be observing wildlife from an airboat, contrary to what the numerous billboards suggest.

Another big activity here is to rent a sea kayak and to paddle out to one of the numerous islands nearby and camp. That sounds very fun, and I wish I could take a couple days off to do it. Maybe someday, when the mosquitos are gone. The lady at the ice cream shop said it is unusual for the mosquitos to still be here, and usually they are gone by the beginning of November.

Today's ride was pretty nice. The road along the barrier islands from Ft. Myers Beach to Vanderbilt Beach is terrific. Naples is a bit dicey, but manageable. Highway 41, the Tamiami Trail, has a nice shoulder until you are pretty far out into the swamps, and there is little traffic at that point. The high point of the day (apart from the bridge over the Intracoastal Waterway) was 20 feet. Here is a picture of Ft. Myers Beach from the bridge. The Gulf of Mexico is in the background.

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There are lots of cool birds. I saw about a dozen osprey, countless egrets and ibises, and several wood storks on the mud flats. There is a kingfisher on the wire between every other phone pole. Here is the route for today.

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