Warren & Emily SwanTrips → 1985 Florida Everglades

These Florida trips had some commonality: We’d always rush down to Everglades National Park in 1 or 2 days, set up camp, then do whatever we felt like doing for about 2 weeks in the warm sunshine, whilst our friends shivered up North, then we’d rush back home.  There were some variations on this, of course. 

This was Emily (and Olive’s) first time to this extreme tip of Florida.  We were concerned about taking a car that had “so many miles” on it.  So we borrowed Warren’s mother’s Malibu station wagon for this trip.

Moser Hammock

We set up camp at the Long Pine Key campground, where we always camped on these trips.  The ground here is only a few feet higher than other areas of the glades.  But that is a veritable mountain in such flat lands.  Thus the flora and fauna is different.  It is filled with beautiful Florida Slash Pine, small palmettos, and now and then some jagged rock.

Emily had to take Warren’s word for the first week that it regularly was warm, in the 70s, in the Everglades this time of year, because it was uncharacteristically cold and overcast for the first week.

The first day in the park we always relax and do some fun hikes near the campground.  This is a view of the Moser Hammock on the other side of the campground lake from the campsites.  →

It is yet just a few inches higher than the surrounding pine lands.  But that is enough to cause yet another totally different ecosystem, with gumbo limbo trees, tree snails, bee hives, and dense brush.

Walking on the trail through the Moser hammock brings you to a T-junction after leaving the hammock, where you can hike out across a “finger glade” to the old One-Way Auto Trail, now closed to vehicle traffic.

Finger Glade ← This is the finger glade that is not far from the campground.  The flora and fauna that thrives here is mostly very different from what thrives just a few feet away in the pine lands and the Moser Hammock, out of sight to our left.  We’re looking south.  If this were the wet season, this glade would be under a few inches of water.  This year it is dry.  In several later years that we were here this glade was a bit soupy with dry patches.  One year it was even under an inch or two of water, even though we always came down during the supposed dry season. 

We drove down to Flamingo, hiked around ECO pond, which wasn’t there when I was a teenager.  It had been put in sometime in the late 1970s.  We took the Wilderness Waterway boat trip.  Christmas day we spent driving down the Keys to Key West and visiting the shops there.

Back at the park we did something that is an Everglades tradition: we walked each of the hikes on the way down toward Flamingo, including Pa-Hay-Okee (“River of Grass“), Mahogany Hammock, and so on.  These are fun side trips.

Olive on Westlake Trail The clothing on little Olive gives you an idea of how atypically cold it was during these days.  →

Other than hiking the interesting trails at Royal Palm, the following days were not the same.  We spent more time in town looking at ideas for a family van, shopping, going to church on Sunday, and spending time at the beach at Biscayne.

The most interesting thing we did during this time was to observe Halley’s Comet, first through binoculars, then, as we got accustomed to its location in the sky and appearance with the naked eye, we could see it without binoculars.

View from Shark Valley Tower Although it’s quite a ride from the Long Pine Key campground, we like to drive to the North part of the park and visit Shark Valley.  By now it was nice and warm.  When we visited Shark Valley this time we rented bikes and rode out to the tower at the south end of the old Shell Oil exploration road. 

← This view is from the tower looking back North whence we had biked.  The road continues on to the right, hidden by the brush in this picture, then wiggles its way back to the parking area, unlike the straight oil company road.  It’s not as interesting, though, because it doesn’t have the canal next to it that provides such an abundance of wildlife viewing.

For some odd reason on New Year’s Eve we drove all the way back down to Key West and took in more sites.  We usually don’t make this long drive twice in one vacation.

ECO Pond We spent New Year’s day at Flamingo, our last day in the park.  Although man-made in the late 1970s, ECO Pond at Flamingo is a great place to see wildlife.  →

Other than visited Emily’s uncle in St. Petersburg for a couple of hours, and stopping at The Varsity in Atlanta, we just made a bee-line for home.


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