We headed out pretty early this morning - before 9:00. It was a beautiful day for the drive on the Tamiami Trail across the panhandle of Florida. Don't know what we expected of the everglades but were surprised at its diversity - wetlands yes, but also dry areas (now we see how they can have wildfires in the everglades) - indian villages (the Seminoles fled into the everglades when the government rounded up the indians to move to Oklahoma - they're the only indian tribe never conquered) - panther crossing signs (didn't see one but guess they're out there). We also didn't see any alligators lying along the side of the road - which we did expect. We passed a number of airboat tour companies & got the impression most are run by the locals. A couple of the tour companies had giant airboats with long seats across them - seated probably 20 or more - with 2 fans on the back. It was a very interesting drive.
As we turned south toward the Keys we drove thru an agricultural area - huge fields, huge groves of palm trees, huge nursuries. It is Mothers' Day so there were lots of roadside stands selling gorgeous orchid plants in every color. (Judi suggested stopping to buy an orchid for sister Norma's collection but David didn't think it would make it all the way back to California.)
Once we hit Hwy 1 out to the Keys we were in stop & go traffic. There would be passing lanes & everyone would spread out & speed up - then the passing lane would end & everyone would have to slow to a crawl to get back into one lane. We saw a couple of rear-enders off to the side of the road & that didn't help the traffic either. (Praise God everyone around us was watchful!) We had expected a long bridge from the mainland to the Keys but it is evidently a long spit of land that's mostly marsh. We did cross a high bridge onto Key Largo - with a beautiful resort & big boats beneath the bridge.
We're actually staying at the Florida Keys Elks Lodge in Tavernier on Key Largo - another Elks Lodge on the water. We have a nice view of the water from our trailer & there's a tiki hut & pier for our enjoyment. They even have kayaks we can use (but David has no interest in kayaking).
We've finally made it to the Florida Keys! Enjoy the sunsets with us. More later...