Thursday May 4, 2006
West down Tamiami Trail, past all the airboat rides, past the Miccosukee casino and village, and past Shark Valley (where Frances recently went) lies Big Cypress National Preserve. A big park ranger station/visitor center has a gift shop (with lots of interesting books, actually), camp ground, and a little boardwalk where you can see lots of alligators. This is halfway to Naples, and many tourists just make a pit stop on their way cross-coast.
The dry season is a good time to visit, because hiking around the station without wading through the actual marsh is possible. Here is a trail that leads west from the station. There were thousands of dragonflies and butterflies (no mosquitoes).
The trees thicken, and get taller; this is the inside of a hammock, sort of an island of trees. In some sections, the ground was covered with tinny sage plants. In others, there were clumps of delicate little orchids.
In the center of the hammock there’s a little pool (reduced to muck now). The word “bog” comes to mind. A wrong step here can sink you into some shoe-loosing mud.
All manner of beautiful little flowers bloom.
There are occasional signs of recent fires. Regular burning is part of the ecosystem, keeping the trees in check, allowing the smaller plants to thrive, and redistributing nutrients.
This is another spot. Yes, there are gators everywhere. No, I didn’t photograph them. And yes, they leave people alone.
Majestic photos, for sale by the pound! Note the eerie blue light coming in from the outside.
Further down the road back, a memorial to those who perished on ValuJet flight 592, May 11, 1996.
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