“I hope we get to see some wildlife.” – Colin, five minutes before spending the next five hours biking alongside 50+ alligators, a variety of birds, fish and turtles. To say that the Everglades exceeded our expectations is a gross understatement. It was one of our most memorable days – and it cost $0.00.
At the recommendation of friends in Key Largo, we borrowed two bikes and made our way to Shark Valley in the Everglades. We arrived just after opening and hopped onto the 15 mile trail almost immediately. The typical ride is said to take 2-3 hours. We annihilated that estimate and rode for five hours. And by “rode”, I mean, rode/stopped/took a picture/repeat. Evidence:
The only downfall of a lengthier bike tour was a sore tookus for the next few days. Worth it. I have never been so close to so many alligators and I love wildlife spotting. I can almost *guarantee* that we saw more alligators than anyone that day – including a mother alligator beneath the water, protecting her babies from a short distance. We could only see her using Colin’s goodr sunglasses. In the naked eye vs. goodr’s fight, the goodr’s won this day.
We biked next to alligators less than 2 feet from our tires, sunning themselves on the road. That’ll startle anybody and I’m just happy I didn’t swerve and crash. We saw tons of fish and birds, birds eating fish, snakes, turtles, all the things! If that wasn’t rewarding enough, we reveled in the knowledge that having our own bikes saved us $90 ($9/hour rentals).
While Shark Valley was our favorite part of the Everglades, collectively, we spent about four days touring the park. We hiked a few trails, took Vaniel down any scenic road we could find and we mentally crossed another National Park off our imaginative NPS checklist (actual checklist forthcoming because it is SO satisfying to physically check an item off a checklist).
We also scored a sweet camping spot fairly close to the park. This would turn out to be the location of our very first outdoor shower. Tell me you wouldn’t want this backdrop as you shower and shave/watch your boyfriend shave.
Up next: another National Park, a few days beachside, and playing high-intensity pickleball at a retirement community (oh yeh!).