At least we got an early start anyway, and after our all you can eat breakfast buffet, we set off on our way through Bonita Springs, and on to the Tamiami Trail - aka the road that runs through the heart of the Everglades.
I can honestly say that I have never seen anything like it - it looks really quite Jurassic! Like you could imagine a dinosaur appearing at any moment...weird. We headed for the Shark Valley Visitor Centre, which is a huge wildlife reserve right in the heart of the Glades. We chose to go here as you can explore the park on hired bicycles which sounded like good fun, and leaves no environmental impact, unlike the gas guzzling airboats....
Me with my "attractive" bike outfit!! There are mosquitos-a-plenty in the Everglades so we wore long sleeves and trousers and I have my trousers tucked into my socks for extra protection - as well as half a bottle of 50% DEET insect repellant on too!
This is a view of the 15 mile loop road that you cycle on. Before they let you hire out the bikes, you have to sign a disclaimer that basically says that you realise that you are about to enter a complete wild park area, with dangerous animals present and that if you die, its not their fault....reassuring! :S
Michael looking out for wildlife.....
And here it is! This is taken just at the side of the road, with no zoom, and no fencing in-between you and it....scary!
And some more! There were actually 3 gators lying on the concrete path that we cycled on....which I didn't get a photo of as we were too busy cr*pping ourselves and peddling VERY fast!!
To be honest, they were mostly asleep/sunbathing and not really interested in the strange creatures whizzing past on the bikes...it was still a bit scary though!
I do have to say that this was one of my favourite things we did on the entire trip. There were only a few other people doing the trail at the same time as us, so for miles it was just us and the wildlife. It was very peaceful and beautiful and felt exhilarating.
2 hours and 15 miles later (and a bit saddle sore), it was time to get back in the car and head on down to Key Largo, where we were staying for two nights.
A sign at the side of the road through the Everglades - look out for panthers - eek! (Didn't see any!)
And the bridge on the way over to Key Largo.....stunning scenery.
Not so stunning however was looking at my hands when we arrived in Key Largo to find out that I had become an unofficial member of the Red Hand Gang! I had plastered myself in factor 50 before we went on the bike ride, but had gone to the loo before we set off, and washed my hands.....hence the burn...ouch!
Lots of Aloe Vera slapped on before bed!