FLORIDA - See you later, Alligator! (The Everglades)

Okay, so what have we learned so far? -The state Florida has got lovely beaches some with a Caribbean flair and others with a Springbreak atmosphere and we have been introduced to a few very special animals (manatee) and unique vegitation (mangroves).
Today's posting deals with an interesting ecosystem and one of its most dangerous creatures. Most of you will know them from horrormovies: the Everglades and the American Alligator. The first are two huge national park-like areas called Wildlife Management Area and Water Conservation Area. If you zoom in on these parts in the lowest/last third of the state you can get an impression of the brown-green marbled landscape. To explore the territory beside the scattered roads one needs some kind of boat and as a tourist going on an airboat tour seems to be a good idea, so we did it.

In the company's office and shop which offers such tours, we see this funny mosquito scale. Luckily today's expected collective attack by these blood sucking insects is rather low. Though one can buy anti-mosquito-spray here and apply before entering the wilderness, if advisable (>4).

Being placed in these airboates and equiped with hearing protection a driver who knows the area as good as his own vest pocket, maneuvers us safely through the water labyrinth. His slides over muddy parts of the shallow water entertains quite well, when the alligators hid themselves. We only see one small sized reptile in some distance, escaping from us. But if you think about it, it's very plausible, because the ear-deafening engine of the airboat is just too loud...

On our way back home we don't take the highway and detect a large amount of alligators along the roads with irrigation channels for the fields next to them. It's dry season and the water level here is higher than in the open Everglades.

So, if you really want to make sure to see some alligators you can also visit this miniature golf court near Fort Myers which attracks with its own baby allgators in cat size.

Though the complex and visionary composition of the court was breath-taking enough for us as foreign tourists. None of us had seen such a splendid miniture golf court before.

Well, as you know every journey comes to an end one day and so there's nothing left to say but:
"See you later Alligator!" - "In a while, Crocodile!" ;)
(of the Florida Tour 2011)


FLORIDA: Key West or 'the most southern point'

If you take a look at a map you will notice that Florida is mostly shaped like a rectangle reaching down to the Caribbean and South America. Because of this unique shape it's also called 'the panhandle'-state. The United States of America end here with a line of small islands, the Keys, connected by the Oversea Highway and a few of them are so tiny that you can always see the waterfront. After we drove there by car we decided to change plans on the way and only made it to Key Largo, the first of the isles. Here are some impressions:

As we stopped at Key Largo's visitor center we discovered that there would have been 100 Miles more to go, which would have taken 2 hours. Though on our way to Miami and further north that day, we clinched to book a tour and go by ferry a couple of days later.

The ferry needs 3 hours to get from Fort Myers, where we had our main residence, to Key West.
It has some suites and tv screens on the inside, but you can sit or stand outside, too.

There is alot to see in the harbour...

and it's only one kilometer to the city centre and another one til 'the most southern point'.
Though you can also take a ride on one of the fancy vehicles like a trishaw, for example.

To make this trip more relaxing one can also check into one of the hotels for a night or two...

though unfortunately there is no beach I could recommend.

All around the harbour the water is very clear and you can see the fish swimming around. Here it's a rather different picture: there are tons of grass or hay or something like that which even builds big piles and fills the air with a strange odour :( As friends come back here the following year they still can't find a better beach.

Some young folk, maybe springbreakers, didn't care and just placed themselves on a concrete base.

On our way to the lighthouse we passed the best house in town ;)

And, everybody who doesn't know who this famous person is/was, has to be punished and forced to enter :)

Well, every day comes to an end and we are able to view the sunset on the open sea. So close to the equator it's a quite short but very worthy closure.

Next posting: See you later, Alligator! or The Everglades