Miami, Florida Keys, Everglades, August 2007 − Travels − Captain Tom

Miami, Florida Keys, Everglades, August 2007

On the way again with colleague Björn. We are going to do the remaining sightseeing program for Florida. An extended weekend should be sufficient.

1 Flight to Miami.

This time I get hit by the antiquated american air transportation system. The three hour flight was scheduled to depart shortly after 8 pm. Boading started one hour after scheduled departure. Then we waited for about three hours on the tarmack. Then we returend to the gate for refuelling. There we waited for another hour and then we got ready for take-off. The time for the "flight" totalled 8 hours. I arrived at the hotel at about 4 am.

Economy Parking in Newark is located right at the approach path.
2 Florida Keys

The first day starts with a very dozy view out of the hotel room.Florida Keys
Today's destination are the keys, the islands off the coast of Florida. All keys are connected via highway. The last key is about 160 miles away. So there is some driving time today
First stop is at John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park. We want to see the mangrove woods and via glass bottom boat the reef.
Tom still very tired.
Björn watches mangroves
The boat accelerates after having passed the swamp area.
And here is the reef
We are on a similar boat
On the way back we see a jet ski with overheating problems
We move on over countless keys to the last one. Key West. Hemingway lived there and his house is now a museum.
There is a lighthouse museum
And there is the southernmost point of the USA. But it is not where the mark is. The most southern part of the island is occupied by a naval base.
And as ususal in the USA: Everything close by is southernmost too.
Key West has even a Hard Rock Cafe.
Key West is a nice little tropcial town worth seeing.
On the way back I take a photograph of the 7 Miles Bridge between Key Vaca and Little Duck Key
3 Everglades

The next day is all about animals, especially about aligators which live free in the Everglades.

Straight ahead. The Everglades are only about 20 miles away from Miami.
First stop is Shark Valley State Park. We expect a narrated bus tour but the bus is not there. So we rent bicycles. Not the most common way to explore the Everglades but not the worst way.
Björn on his way.
The first aligator (we have seen - probably hundres of aligators have seen us so far) is a little camouflaged.
Another name for Everglades is "River of Grass"
We see many different birds.
The next aligator is much better to watch
and another one
There is an observation tower half the way which gives a good view over the swamps.
This is where we came from.
After visiting the state park we did the mandatory airboat tour. But this is more tourist rip-off
The boat goes through the swamp.
The driver demonstrates the depth of the water
A little lizard watches what's going on
We see more aligators at the Oasis Ranger Station visitor's center
Then we choose to go an unpaved road (CR 94 Loop Road) with our little rental car and we get a lot to see.
The road
Swamp, boondocks
Tom looks for things to photograph
and finds something
Björn is veeeery carefully taking a photograph of a snake which by the way crawls from right ro left over the road.
Big vulture like bird
In the evening we enjoy the busy life at Coco Walk
4 Miami and Miami Beach

Before I fly back in the evening we start the day with a walk around Coral Gables, a very expensive neighborhood of Miami (the travel guide says "one of the country's richest neighborhoods")

Nice trees on the road.
Congregational Church Biltmore Hotel
Next stop is the harbor. We see the Freedom of the Seas, the worlds largest passenger vessel. It is even larger than the Queen Mary II.
Then I try to ride a Jet Ski for the first time. This is really fun.
Last stop Miami Beach Tom has a look at the beach
Interesting life guard posts
The famous Ocean Drive...
reveals being a little road with little houses which are hotels and restaurants. On the road you find any kind of tourist rip-offs.