Sunday, November 11, 2012

Day 68 - Highlands Hammock State Park, FL

When the Boy Scouts decide to leave, they are gone!  This place emptied out faster than our bank account while buying diesel.  We are back to a fairly empty and very quiet campground now.  A few more campers came in this afternoon but it is a pretty sedate bunch compared to the scouts.

Cute kid encounter: there are two little boys staying right next to us.  One of them who looked to be about two was out on his little bicycle with his grandmother walking beside him.  They stopped at our place to say hello.  The boy got off his bike and came over to the door where Brett was standing.  He looked, and looked, and bent sideways and looked some more.  Then he said "Papa??"  Nope, you need to go next door for him.  I suppose when you are a little guy every old man looks a bit like your grandfather until you take a really close look.

Brett went over to the ranger station this morning and bought two tickets for the tram ride this afternoon.  We rode our bike over and were there in time to get seats in the front row.  It's a wonder we were there on time.  Brett picked up a few magazines at the little trading library here and was relaxing in the restroom poring over a copy of "Concealed Carry" when it came time to leave.  He had no idea there was a magazine devoted to the art of carrying concealed weapons.  He thought he should read up to try to understand the people we are living amongst.

 Ranger Brenda was our tram driver.  This was a 1 1/2 hour narrated drive and well worth the $5 ticket price.  The tram traveled some of the same road we took the bike on yesterday but then turned off the main path to follow a canal in a section of the park that is closed to the general public and we started to see critters.  There were a lot of alligators and turtles as well as birds.  We were in virgin forest; the hammock is very dense growth.  Among the animals seen in the park are gray squirrels, raccoons, white tail deer, alligators, turtles, birds, snakes (water moccasin like to curl up next to the road and there are pythons all over the Everglades), bobcats, wild boar (not native), armadillo (not native), black bears, panthers, spiders (we saw the golden orb spider whose web looks like spun gold) and mosquitoes.  Then we learned that the southeast has its own big foot type creature called the Skunk Ape.  It has supposedly been sighted in the park.  After hearing about all these creatures and seeing a few of them, I'm not sure I should be going outside!

Our neighboring tram passengers were a group of Mexican ladies who were having a wonderful time.  One of them thought that she saw a fish in a tree and will probably never live it down.  We spotted them as city dwellers when we found out they didn't know what a culvert was.  But they certainly could spot the alligators.

We took another bike ride around the park loop later this afternoon.  It was very pleasant in the shade.  Once we returned home, we got the laundry done (thanks Brett!) and then had crock pot chili for dinner.  More relaxing seems to be in order now.

Tomorrow we move on again.  I am anxious to see what adventures await.

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