Monday, September 13, 2010

Day 5: Florida Everglades and a Drive to Naples FL

Today's adventures further proved that Florida is an excellent place to be (or at least visit). When we finally left the house this morning, before we went to the everglades Sara got us pumped for some bomb milk shakes on the way. We stopped at a roadside stand called Robert Is Here only to discover that they were only open because they were trying to sell a shipment of under ripe mangos – thusly, they were not serving milkshakes. Not even mango ones.

Unfortunately no milkshakes were being served.
So we went around back and fed the animals.
"Don't stick your fingers in, honey!"

Onward! We hopped back in the car and ventured to the Florida everglades. This beautiful park spans a significant portion of lower Florida and is the only ecosystem of its kind on the planet. It is abundant with wildlife and the home of countless plants. When I was young I went on an air boat ride and had a great time. Revisiting the everglades was breathtaking.

The Everglades exist nowhere else on the planet.
My favorite part of this visit was learning about the ecological impact that various practices had on the ecosystem. Before we arrived Sara was telling us how the Everglades are disappearing due to the redirecting of water. Interestingly, this has had a alternate impact on different members of the community. For example, farmers have enjoyed increased irrigation and land capacity, due to the receding waterline from pumping water out of the 'glades. On the other hand, a conservationist would be worried about the destruction of wildlife habitat and loss of animals. By virtue of my interest in the shrinking everglades, I was fascinated by an exhibit in the Everglades' Visitor Center that told the unique story of how the shrinking everglades affected six different types of people.

These are the six personalities you can listen to for the exhibit.

This picture of the exhibit shows the people figures, a geographical map of Florida showing the flow of water, and an interface, which allowed you to choose which person you'd like to listen to. After listening to these six people's viewpoints I was amazed at how many ways a seemingly one sided situation can be interpreted. I constantly find myself thinking that my viewpoint is what makes more sense than everyone elses'. But each of these characters had a completely valid viewpoint, which made a great deal of sense to them. After hearing their reasoning explaining how they felt, I could appreciate their point of view. Perhaps this just speaks to how well this exhibit was designed, but perhaps it's a small example of a larger societal problem of listening.

After the Visitors Center we embarked upon nature!
One of their own.
Snapping turtles are best observed from afar.
Alligators are best observed from up close.
Alligators a plenty!
The boardwalks and grass reminded me of Myst.
Mobile lovers.
Here's the third alligator of the day.
This silly bird had speared a fish and couldn't get it off his beak.
I was blown away by even the smallest wildlife.
Sara getting a closer look at a baby gator we found in the brush.
I was amazed how close some animals would let you get.
After the boardwalk, we walked through a jungle path.
The water was covered by thousands of little plants.
Epiphites are small air plants that grow on large trees.

Leaving Sara's was bittersweet. We reunited with an old friend but leaving is always a bummer. Thankfully we have many more adventures in store to look forward to!

Thanks for having us! Bon voyage!

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