The Everglades and Coral Castle

The Everglades National Park!!!!!! Needless to say we were so very excited to have a chance to visit this natural wonder.  The wildlife was AMAZING.  It is worth at least two weeks of someone’s time to feel like you have explored it thoroughly, that and some kayaks as well as taking the list of walking, slogging, and boating tours.  We walked several of the scienic loops seeing numerous birds and butterflies, two turtles, fish, a snake, caterpillar, alligators, crocodiles, and a manatee.  That and we saw a dolphin driving through the Keys yesterday so I feel like for the time we had we were able to see quite a bit.  The manatee was fun.  It was in the boat dock area by one of the visitor centers.  One time it came up and showed us its head back and then tail.  We could have watched all day.  The idea of paddling around amongst the crocodiles and alligators in a kyak (the bay had crocks the inner ponds had gators) didn’t seem like a very responsible thing to do, but this isn’t their first rodeo so if they are letting all kinds of people rent kyacks and canoes for this kind of adventure it must be mostly safe.  We didn’t do it this time, though if we are to ever come back and get to spend a week I’m going to have to spend some time in a gym prepping my arms for all they kyacking we will have to do to see the Everglades well.  

   The first park with scenic walks took us off gaurd when we pulled into the parking lot to discover all the cars covered in blue tarps.  What was going on?  We soon discovered the birds that make this part of the park their home have a thing for the soft rubber on cars and will peck at your car and destroy the rubber unless you use one of the provided tarps to protect your car.  

  Florida Bay  
 The Everglades National Park was nothing like we expected it to be.  We weren’t surprised that it was beautiful, but we had expected the proverbial swamp.  We learned that instead it is a 50 mile wide river basin that’s shallow depth and slow moving water allow for grass and other plants to grow up to the surface of the water so that it looks like grasslands the areas that are slightly higher in elevation make little mangrove tree “islands” and cypress trees cover the ground that is slightly higher than that.  The plants filter the water making it surprisingly clear.  Animals big and small can move easily through the water.  As the water moves toward the gulf it becomes brackish and hosts different animals.  There are some 200 spiecies of birds, 50 reptile spiecies and many different land and marine mammals that call the everglades their home.  Soooooo cool!  On the way out of the park we had noted that the Coral Castle was a mere 13 miles away.  It is a historic and engineering wonder that Chad had been talking about visiting ever since we graduated from college in 2004.  It didn’t look like too much from the pictures online.  We were very pleasantly surprised.   

  10 cents was the price Ed, the builder of  Coral Castle charged for a tour of his home.   Below is a life size cut out of him.  At 5’0″ tall and a whopping 100lbs we can not attribute his stone castle to be built by his Amazonian physique which makes the castle even more of an engineering marvel.   
  The 6000 lbs gate was no match for the kids they were able to rotate it with just a push.   
  The reading area with chairs not only positioned for the beast lighting for morning, evening, and afternoon but were surprisingly comfortable.    
  A table the shape of Florida.    
 Lake Okeechobee geographically acurate on the Florida shaped table.   
  A hole in the wall that is aimed at another hole in the rock behind it that aims at the North Star all year long.  Of course it is not dark so I couldn’t see if it worked.  
  Looking at the sun dial clock that is somehow accurate with in a minute.  
  Below is a better look at the numbers inside the sundial.  
  Above is a sunning table. Supposedly Ed was from the Pacific Northwest and had been diagnosed with Tuberculosis he was told he needed to move to a place where he could get lots of sunshine and fresh air to get better.  They think it is possible that he was misdiagnosed but there was no sign of Tuberculosis in his lungs when he died.  Below is a look across the courtyard the building in the corner is on the first floor a tool shed and the second story a small room so if the elements required it he had shelter.  
  Above is a well in the courtyard and below is his refrigerator.  Down in the insulated ground water Ed would store his parish able food in water tight glass jars.  By the looks of it I had guessed it was going to be a bath.    
    Above is the back gate.  Much much heavier than the front gate it used to turn with just the push of a finger, but over time  it has stiffened and no longer turned as Ed had originally designed it. 
  Above is an outdoor bedroom including a bassinet, child’s bed and child’s chair besides the two adult beds.  He  had always hoped to get married but it never did happen.  

 Outdoor cooking station.   

    Tool shed. 
  The meager furnishings of his indoor space.  
 Suspended bed looks fairly comfortable.  
  Hannah has grown a bit…she needs to lay off the GMOs. 

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