Next destination: Marco Island, FL, also known as Paradise! But first we must take an adventurous ride through the Florida Everglades.
Did you know the Everglades became a National Park in 1947? South Florida was first inhabited by Calusa Indians. As the area was settled and developed many groups pulled together to protect what was left of the wetlands. The Everglades National Park is home to over 350 species of birds, more than 50 reptiles from a tiny grass frog to the largest American crocodile, nearly 300 species of fish, over 40 species of mammals–rabbits, racoons, opossum, fox and deer to name a few, and there are more insects in the Everglades than any other group of animals.
We were fortunate to see many alligators lurking in the water, all looking for the same thing…..a McNavigator sandwich…lol!
Our route, Route 41, cut directly through the Everglades from East to West. Since this is a National Park you can imagine there was very little development on this road. The occasional gas stop or roadside stand offering airboat rides, but not much else.
About half way in to our drive, we noticed a caution sign stating, “Panther Crossing Next 8 Miles”. Wow…we might see a panther? Heck yeh! And, within 4 miles later we saw one. A 40ft long by 12ft high one! Everglades City is the home of the largest panther statue in the world (probably!).
With Dan’s encouragement JoAnne turned the car around, high tailing it back to the panther sculpture. We had to capture this on film. Dan got out of the car, wandered over to the sculputure, began sizing up the perfect angle when suddenly realized he was covered in mosquitos. Panicking. he ran back to the car with his arms flailing, jumped in (NOT a good idea), jumped back out of the car, ran around the parking lot looking like a fool and then once there was less of a swarm, jumped in the car without snapping a single shot of the panther….bummer!
Who knew our ride through the Everglades would have been so adventurous!
Time to enter paradise…..as we came over the brigde onto Marco Island (still killing mosquitos) we noticed this sign welcoming us to the island. We would have gotten a better picture but neither one of us dared to get out of the car after that last episode!
Look at the line of people welcoming us! We knew they were expecting us, but we didn’t know they’d be this excited. (Over the course of our two days here the enthusiasm didn’t stop. People LOVE living here!)
Now time to eat!
Quinn’s on the Beach–a Gulf view and a buffalo burger. Life is good!