We took a walk around the lake at the campground to see the gators and other animals.
That was a lot of gators. Some are really big.
There are some martins that stay here. It is great to have them here, but I think it would be even better if there were 100 times as many. The mosquitoes are brutal in some months.
This guy had a bad day or is just weird. I am pretty sure that a split tail is not normal.
Neat land snail.
Some birds were fishing.
It was a nice walk and seeing the gators. Wow!
We decided to head down the road to the Big Cypress Visitor Center. They have lots of alligators, birds, and other animals.
Of course, alligators are the focus for most people.
There are some interesting and entertaining birds
A few pretty flowers.
We hope someday to hike this trail. This is one end, and the other is at Fort Pickens.
No kidding here is the picture from the Fort Pickens end of the trail.
So now we just have to fill in the trail in between.
Monument Lake Campground
The lake is in the center of the campground. There are at least 7 alligators in the lake. Some are really big. More pictures of those soon.
The flat was weird. Not only was the piece of metal strange but it poked into the sidewall.
These tires have tough sidewalls but not that tough. If it had gone in the tread, there is no way it would have punctured. Plus, the damage would have been covered on warrantee.
To me it looks like part from a windshield wiper but I can’t be sure.
We got the spare on and drove the rest of the way to our next campground in the Big Cypress National Preserve. The sunset was nice.
We have been watching a YouTube channel that focuses on shelling. She goes to Sanibel a lot so the videos were very helpful in identifying the names of the shells we found.
Florida Fighting Conch and a Banded Tulip
Atlantic Fig Snail
Florida Fighting Conch and an Apple Murex
Very pretty Scallops
Atlantic Giant Heart Cockle
Florida Prickly Cockle
Lettered Olive Regular Olive Modesta
Paul Newman Shark Eye because it has a blue center
We really enjoyed finding the shells and starfish even though we could not keep those.
When we get to the Keys maybe we can get more.
Visiting Sanibel Island.
We took off pretty early in the hopes of finding some shells on Sanibel Island. As it turns out, we were not early by "shelling" standards. Early would be before dawn.
Sanibel Lighthouse Park is on the far east end of the island. The light house opened in 1884 and is working.
We got parked about 8am and paid for 4 hours. Yes, all parking on the island is paid. They are serious because some cars had tickets already because they had not paid. There is a kiosk that prints a ticket and charges $5 per hour. Wow!
We were far from alone even at 8am.
We did find a lot of really nice shells and a few other creatures.
The sea anemone and starfish were alive, so we quickly put them a little farther from shore. Any shells that have live creatures inside are NOT allowed to be collected.
Several birds were looking for breakfast.
They had a helpful sign to identify shells. Shelling is one of the big activities on the beach.
We decided to take a break, relax and get a snack.
As we realized our time was running out on parking, we decided to go to the J.N. "Ding" Darling National Wildlife Refuge. There is a 5-mile one way wildlife drive through the refuge.
There visitor center had a very interesting mural outside.
On the drive, we stopped several times to see birds and fish.
I had never of mangrove tree crabs. The crabs were only about an inch across.
We were starting to get hungry. Our snack earlier would only hold us for so long. Shawna started looking for what was available. She found a local favorite, Doc Ford's.
When we eat at a restaurant, we usually try to go mid-afternoon. We almost never have to wait for a table. Doc Fords was great! The food was fantastic. We got the Yucatan Shrimp. It was a huge bowl and we shared it. The sauce was amazing.
The day ended with a fantastic sunset.
After visiting the Manatee, we traveled a few miles to the Six Mile Slough. A slough is what I would describe as a really a shallow wide river that looks like swamp.
On our way to the park, we noticed a LOT of Tesla's. Maybe this is part of the reason.
The slough is 11 miles long by 1/3 mile wide. Originally the slough was 6 miles from town, so the name really does not mean much anymore as town surrounds the park.
An effort was made by a group of high school students called the "The Monday Group" to get placed on the ballot a referendum to protect the slough. In 1976 the students were successful in having the land named a preserve. The slough exists undeveloped because of high school students who loved a piece of natural Florida and fought to save it.
Lots of pretty birds, plants, and trees.
At Gator Lake we saw our first gator on the trail. It was right below the boardwalk.
Later we caught this guy waiting near a very brave turtle.
There was a large woodpecker in the park.
We had a great time, and the park is every well maintained but whatever you do pay to park and do not park in the wrong place or....
We got up early so we could see manatees. The park opens at 8am and fills up pretty quick even if schools don't send students for tours.
Something else, parking is not free anywhere in the Fort Myers area. Most parking lots charge $2 per hour or $5 per day.
There were lots of manatee in the canal. This is the output of the Fort Myers power plant. The water is always almost exactly the same temperature. Because of this, the manatee will come here when other waters are colder than they like.
Some of the manatee above were eating mangroves near the river.
There were at least 50. Some had their babies with them.
We somebody got breakfast.
We will be here for a few days and plan to see Manatees and go shelling on Sanibel Island. It is possible we will find more to do as we are staying here for 10 days.
Tonight's sunset was great!
We stayed at another farm.
This time it was really a dairy ranch.
Just an overnight stay but we did get to visit with the owners and other campers.
Watched a calf be bottle fed. Mom had problems and could not feed him.
It was a quiet night with lots of stars.
We are a couple who have started on a new adventure...