Monday was a busy day. We left Long Key and headed back to Marathon to return the rental car, get haircuts, and then to Fiesta Key RV resort to get a propane refill. As we headed into the Everglades, we took in the vastness of this plain which was a striking contrast to the constriction of the tiny islands that we had lived in for nearly 5 weeks. We chose our campsite and settled in as Tom made pink shrimp Shish Kabobs. As we ran the generator to make coffee and charge the batteries, we noticed it was sputtering. Our batteries made it through the night, but showed a dwindling level of power as Tuesday went on. Tom went on a Back Country Boat Tour on the Buttonwood Canal. He saw a crocodile, but not too much else. The January cold spell killed truckloads of fish, many of the alligators, and other animals that rely on the higher temperature water for warmth.
When he returned around 4PM, Anne who had tried to get the batteries back up, called him on his cell phone and suggested that they may need to break camp and get to a place with electricity. Anne had psyched out a nearby commercial campground (Miami Everglades Campground) just an hour away and we called to get a reservation. While we felt sad to leave the Flamingo NP campground, we knew we could not make it through the night with only half charged batteries. The full power hook-up solved this problem. We had planned to kayak on Wednesday, and after breakfast, we headed back to Everglades NP - just an hour away. We were in the water by 1PM after a quick lunch and headed across 9 Mile Pond and into a thick mangrove tunnel. The wind had been increasing and seemed to be on our nose for most of this twisty paddle that covered skinny water plains of sawgrass that slowed our boats. Once or twice, we lost our way looking for the poles that marked the route. Often the poles were intwined in the mangroves and looked more like branches. The paddling was strenuous and we were glad to find the middle of this water trail with the "short cut" sign pointing the way back. When we arrived back at our launch site, we packed up, loaded the kayaks back on top of the RV and we were back at the campground by 5:30. We feasted on one of the frozen soups (meatball) with freshly made biscuits, but we were so tired that we didn't even make it to the camp store to get what we thought was a well deserved dessert.
After a good night's sleep and we headed out, checked out a local county park which was highly recommended by the RV web site and drove to our son Greg's house in Fort Lauderdale where we had a wonderful family reunion with Greg, Chuck (his partner), Audrey (our daughter) and her husband Jeremy with the cutest grandsons, Jesse and Tim.