After leaving the Keys, we traveled about 100 miles to Big Cypress Swamp, a wild natural preserve that nestles against the eastern edge of the Everglades.
A Magical, Wild Place
It’s a magical place of tall cypress trees festooned with Spanish moss and bromeliads; the knobby knees of the trees poke up out of clear pools of water. The haunting calls of Great Blue Herons, Snowy Egrets, White Ibis, and Red-shouldered Hawks echo through the wildness. Alligators lie motionless in the shallows, ancient and unblinking.
The weather was surprisingly cool and dry. Amazingly, there were no bugs. We set up at Midway Campground, a spacious and very nice park within the national preserve, and a perfect location for exploring Big Cypress.
In two full days in the swamp, we did a beautiful driving tour of the scenic 27-mile loop road (the numbers of wading birds and alligators are astonishing), biked the 15-mile loop trail of nearby Shark Valley, and explored the Visitor’s Center and boardwalk trails. And we signed up for a 5-hour canoe trip, which seemed like an intriguing way to spend my birthday.
Except that a torrential rainstorm appeared the eve of my birthday, replete with lightning and thunder and bringing with it dense humidity and a horrific number of insects, all of which were trying to get into our trailer. On the morning of my birthday, I looked at Eric and said, “My idea of a happy birthday does not include being hot, sweaty, bug-eaten, and in a thunderstorm while kayaking in an alligator-infested swamp.”
Bailing On The Swamp, Heading Back To Civilization
So we bailed on the canoe trip, packed up, and moved 70 miles north to Sanibel Island, stopping on the way in picturesque little Everglades City (population 403), where we had lunch at the Camellia Street Grill, along with every sheriff and wildlife patrol officer in the county. The heat, humidity, and bugs dissipated with the miles, and sunset found us walking on the lovely beach at Sanibel Island, followed by a fantastic dinner at Sweet Melissa’s Café. A very nice birthday, indeed.
Happy Birthday Sweetie! Looks like you made the right choice in where to spend it. Cheers to YOU!!!
Haha, yes–Sanibel won hands down over the alligator-bug-thunderstorm canoe trip. Thanks for the cheers! xo
I must say, whatever the birthday year, Laurel, you are a young, beautiful, healthy woman. May you have many more years of joy and travels ahead. Love, Barbara
Such sweet birthday blessings — thank you. ;-)
Happy belated birthday, girlfriend. Your commentary cracks me up – birthday lunch with cops, no stinkin’ buggy alligators for your birth day.
Sounds like it was a good one – you look beautiful!
And, as usual, the photos are fabulous.
Thank you, darlin’. It was definitely an unusual b-day.
Happy Belated Birthday Laurel! You look great!
According to some of my friends, I get to celebrate for 60 days. Sounds good to me. ;-) xo
Laurel your pictures are fantastic! Happy Birthday!!
I think I need to take some lessons from you on how to do Florida without being so stuck in reservations. I love this roll with the punches you are doing. It’s much more my style. I loved Big Cypress and staying at Midway. Would love to ever be able to get reservations in the Keys. If you figure out the January deal please cut me in. And Sanibel….you stayed on Sanibel, in December. SIGH….how do you do it? Birthday on Sanibel sounds top notch.
Thank you, my fellow Sagittarian! I will email you my secrets for getting reservations in the Keys. Think of it as a belated birthday gift. ;-)
Hi Laurel, We met at the Hideaway Tiki Hut in Cedar Key. It was lovely talking with you and Eric. I will surely enjoy following you guys and your adventures. Hope we get to meet up again!
Alice, Fin, and little Daisy
That was so much fun meeting up with the three of you! We’d love to stay in touch and meet up again. Happy travels!
Happy B-day, Luv K
I want to be like you when I grow up. And I want to look like you when I grow up. Wait! I’m already grown up. This is NOT fair. HOW can you look SO GORGEOUS girl???? Wow. What a fantastic photo of you. Usually I love looking at all the birds and landscapes, but this time you won the photo contest. You look SO good!!! Nice to read your blog, as always.
OMG you are so hilarious! And so incredibly kind. You made my day. ;-)
Well, Laurel, I am reading the archives and getting the picture. You were in Big Cypress just a couple of months before we were, and we have been traveling along a similar pathway. So far, we have avoided the northwest part of the northwest, mainly due to a fear of the crowds, but not for long. Soon to be in your island world of the San Juan’s, even if only for a few days
Sue, I’m glad our paths are finally crossing! Don’t worry about crowds in the northwest-northwest — once you get to the islands (especially Lopez) I think you will find it heavenly! Definitely plan to do some kayaking while you’re here.