|This sign would be more accurate if they replaced the picture of the bird with a picture of a giant mosquito.|
People had warned us about Flamingo. They told us it would be a once in a lifetime experience. You do it once and you never want to go back because of the wee beasties. And there are lots of wee beasties to contend with - flies, fire ants, mosquitoes and noseeums. The flies are just annoying and you can usually avoid the fire ants, but when it comes to mosquitoes and noseeums, you're out of luck unless you wear netting from head to toe and stay inside your camper with all of the windows and door shut. Even then, they'll manage to find you and leave their mark.
|Scamper parked at "A Loop" at the Flamingo campground in the Everglades.|
After three nights in Loop A, we moved over to the T Loop for a night to plug in, recharge our battery and enjoy some air conditioning. Strangely, T Loop only has electric hook-ups, no water. And it will cost you - $30 a night vs. $16 a night in the non-electric loops. We didn't think T Loop was as nice as A Loop and paying an extra $14 for air conditioning for a night seemed a bit excessive, so we headed back to A Loop for our final night. It's a bit more social in A Loop as most people are tent camping and sitting outside trying to cool off in the breeze. In T Loop, it's all RVs and everyone is inside their air conditioned rigs avoiding the blistering heat.
Regardless of what loop you stay at, don't count on any warm showers. The toilet blocks are a bit outdated and we never could figure out how to get any warm water to come out of the shower head. But when you're sweating like a pig and covered in bites, an icy cold shower can be refreshing.
|We loved the retro look of the Flamingo Visitor Center and although pink isn't my favorite color, it works.|
|Dolphins are so cute, even when they're on a feeding frenzy.|
|Can you see the tiny sailboat at the far end of the marina? Wouldn't it be cool to sail right up to Flamingo?|
When the heat gets to be too much hanging about the marina, pop into the visitor center and enjoy their air conditioning, check out the museum and sign up for the free guided canoe trip through the mangroves at Nine Mile Pond. Yes, you read that right - free canoe trip. And they even provide the canoes. If you know anything about us, you'll know that we're cheap and cheerful travelers so we signed up right away. And it was awesome, despite all of the scary looking alligators swimming near us.
They have lots of great ranger programs in the Everglades including a car caravan where you follow a ranger along in your air conditioned car and stop at points of interest in the park. If you like biking, then sign up for the free bike hike at the Long Pine Key picnic area. They provide the bikes - it doesn't get any better than this! We were the only people who showed up for the bike hike so we got a personal tour from one of the wonderful park volunteers.
|The boardwalk at West Lake.|
|This evil plant is strangling another tree. It grows over it and takes over until the unwilling host tree dies.|
|Pretty bird and its reflection on Eco Pond.|
|An example of the diversity of wildlife in the Everglades. We saw this tree snail on our bike hike.|
But it isn't all nature and wildlife at the Everglades. One of the things that surprised me about the Everglades is that there is a former military base where the soldiers sat ready to launch missiles in the event of an attack from Cuba during the Cold War. We went on a fascinating ranger-led tour of the site, but more on that on Friday :-)
The wee beasties feasted on us at Flamingo from 15-19 March 2015.
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