Tuesday, March 17, 2009
Our last excursion in the area was Shark Valley, a part of the Everglades National Park. This area is really about the alligators and other wildlife that can be seen close up by riding a tram around the 15 mile path, riding your bike or an all day hike. We opted for the bike ride. Before you get very far from the welcome center, you learn how close a look you can get. Some of the alligators are actually on the path. We learned from a ranger that there has been only one attack recently. That was when a biker had the poor judgment to lose control of the bike on the path and actually fell on the alligator, who in turn responded the only way it knew how.
The ride out to the observation tower, which is roughly at the halfway point from the parking area, allowed us to see lots of wildlife at a very close range. It was also a good workout and we were glad to reach the tower. In this area we found lots of additional wildlife and a great view over the everglades.
The ride back was with the wind at our back and we moved along smoothly. We once had to dodge a large snake moving quickly across the path. I apologize about not having a picture of this creature, but for some reason that did not come to mind quickly enough. As we neared the welcome center there was a good size alligator lying nearly on the road and as we passed by suddenly jumped up and started moving in our direction. Keeping the bike between me and it, I did manage to get a few good shots before I headed in one direction and it in another.
On the return trip, we did stop at the smallest post office in the USA which has been in continuous use since 1953 when the general store with post office in the area burned down. Now in addition to serving the local populace including a number of Seminole Indian villages, it also does a good business in selling post cards of the post office to tourists with the special postmark.