Everglades is not an eye-catcher at first sight. It isn’t as bright and colorful as Yosemite, nor as splendid and spectacular as the Grand Canyon. However, when you venture into the heartland of this massive wilderness, you will be enthralled by its subtle, unobtrusive, and mystic beauty.
Everglades N.P. is the biggest park in the U.S., boasting about 1,509,000 acres of land. It attracts visitors from all over, thanks to the wild alligators and crocodiles that call it home. I decided to go on an adventure once more, and I bought a ticket to the nearest city Miami, FL in no time.
I had a lot of fun while in Miami. Popular natural attractions include Miami/South Beach, Key Biscayne, and Brickell Park. Please be aware that all the state parks have an operation hour. I went to the Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park early in the morning before it opened. Although I managed to get inside by jumping over the gate, an employee quickly evicted me.
I used a combination of Uber and Public Transportation. The metro rail system in downtown Miami is awesome! Not only does the train come every 5 minutes, but it also has free WiFi inside the cart. Most importantly, it is FREE! For lodging, I suggest the Hampton Inn & Suite in Brickell, Miami. The hotel offers clean and ample guestrooms with full service at a reasonable price. For safety, always hang around popular areas, and take extra caution at night.
After spending a whole day walking around the nearby beaches and forests, I got up early at 5:00 am the next morning to meet my tour guide, Steve, for Everglades.
Previously, I reserved a walking and airboat tour with the Everglades Nature Tours (ENT) company. They had perfect reviews on Yelp. Steve drove with extra caution as we proceeded to the sacred land now dominated by the Indians.
During our trip, Steve constantly regretted upon the ever-changing landscape of Everglades due to human activities. Water is essential to the flora and fauna and drought has never been as severe as in recent years. Foreign plants brought by city-dwellers conquer half of all the creatures here. If we don’t respect Nature, she will eventually claim us all.
One interesting fact I learned was that crocodile and alligator are two separate species. The former lives in the southern part of Everglades that is contingent to the ocean. They usually grow bigger than alligators and will kill and eat people if necessary. Sometimes they can even swim tens of miles into the ocean! Alligators are what we often see in zoos and Everglades. They might kill people, but not eat them. There’re only two sub-specifies, the Chinese alligator, and the American alligator. I was lucky enough to touch a baby alligator raised by the locals. Look how cute it is. Can you imagine that it will grow so big? (Shame on those who steal them!)
The airboat trip was brilliant and breathtaking. It reminded me of a line in a Chinese poem: “山重水复疑无路，柳暗花明又一村。” (“After endless mountains and rivers that leave doubt whether there is a path out, suddenly one encounters the shade of a willow, bright flowers, and a lovely village.”)
I spent the last morning visiting South Beach again. It was a fantastic view without many people around.
See you, beautiful Miami and Everglades!