Sunday, February 17, 2008


I've gone to South Florida just about every year for more than 30 years. In all my visits, I've never been to the Everglades, the east end of which is very near where I visit.
I spent last week in Coral Springs, which is a short distance north of Fort Lauderdale. A brochure in my hotel lobby inspired me to take an Airboat trip into the Everglades.
At the Everglades Recreation Park in Weston, Florida, about a 40 minute drive south and west of Coral Springs, I boarded an airboat for a 30-40 minute ride into the Everglades.
Believe me, there is not much in the Everglades other than water, tall sawgrass, birds, and ALLIGATORS. There were about 10 of us on my boat ride. I got to sit in the front row. Our driver sized us up and, I think, decided that our group was "tough" enough for a somewhat wild ride through the grass. Airboats can navigate through this sharp tall grass, thus their popularity in Florida's waters.
It was pretty exciting riding head first through the grass. Sometimes the grass was so tall, it hit me in the face or on my arm...we were warned to hang onto hats and anything else that might fall off as we sped through the water. I kept one hand on my sunglasses all the time. 
Our guide told us there are alligators in the waters but there was not promise that we would see any.  We were in luck!!! We came to a clear area and there was a 10' alligator, eager to check out our boat. This amazing creature is guessed to be about 35 years old. He/She circled our boat several times, looking for an arm or leg hanging over the edge. Fortunately, all of us kept our extremities and everything else well inside the boat. After awhile, we sped merrily off through more grass and back to the dock.
The Everglades Recreation Park also has exhibits of reptiles and farm animals. It has a pleasant picnic area. I suggest bringing your own picnic food rather than buying any of the packaged food they sell in their shop. The cost for the Airboat ride and to visit the exhibits is about $20. 

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