Everglades National Park, Day 12 – Tuesday – February 19, 2013

Day 12, Tuesday – Nine Mile Pond Paddle and A SPECIAL Dinner:o)
Originally, we made reservations for this ranger led paddle for last Sunday.  However, when we saw that the weather for that day was supposed to be in the 40s and windy, we were able to switch our reservation to today.  That was a great move!!  The paddle starts at 8am and today we arrived at that pond to spectacular weather.  While we waited for the paddle to begin, we had the opportunity to see some unusual birds.
According to the ranger, this pair of Royal Terns have a strange relationship.  The one with the fish in its mouth, heckles the other one until it is fed.  Even then, it stills chases and hollers at the other one.  He said they have been here displaying that behavior for a couple years!!!01 - Royal Terna
Next the ranger pointed out some White Crowned Pigeons.01a1 - White Crowned Pigeon - carribean 01a2 - White Crowned Pigeon          These birds are from the Caribbean and this is as far north as they come.
Finally, we prepared to start the paddle. 
Ranger “G” pointed to where we would be paddling in relationship to the entire Everglades. 01b - Map showing 9 mile pond 01a3 - Map of Everglades                    Sure glad we have a guide… you can’t drop bread crumbs out there;o))
Normally, six canoes go on this paddle.  However, today there were only five going.  Actually, two couples did not show up, but there was a couple waiting at the pond hoping to get a cancellation. We would recommend that you make your reservation when you first arrive at Flamingo as this paddle fills up very quickly!!
Ranger “G” led the way and one by one we followed across Nine Mile Pond,
03 - Ranger G 02 - Heading across the pond
passed a small alligator,
05 - gator
then through a narrow mangrove tunnel
06 - First paddle through the Mangrovews
to open water at the end of the tunnel.
07 - Follow the leader 07a - My Paddler
Many times, Ranger “G” would stop and explain different things about what we were seeing.07b - Ranger G holding court
He was a great guide and you could tell he loves what he does. 
But more than that, he loves the Everglades and
wants those he meets to realize how special and important this place really is!!!
The Everglades are formed by mangroves that start as tiny seed pods 
which  grow in to larger islands!!
 09a - Mangrove 09b - Mangrove09c - Mangrove 09d - Mangrove08 - Dry Season Water Level
In the photo above, you can see a high water line. 
We were here near the end of the dry season so the water was quite shallow.
We were also here during Alligator mating season!!! We could here the males bellowing to attract a mate. Since we paddled through many Mangrove Tunnels, it was a bit unnerving to hear the bellowing close by;o((
09e - Mangrove Paddling through
Never did we feel in any danger… just a little out of our comfort zone!!!
10 - open water
Tricia and Syl got a hitch-hiker in their canoe;o))
10b - the hitch-hiker  10b2 - the hitch-hiker
These Wood Storks passed right over our heads:o)11 - Wood Storks
At one point, we met a kayak tour group. 
We pulled over to the right and let them pass;o))12 - two way traffice
However, most of our trip was very peaceful and quiet...
just our group, the beautiful scenery and the wildlife!!
This was the last pond before we got back to Nine Mile Pond.13 - last pond
We saw an Alligator and a Cormorant that just caught a fish. 13b - last pond - gator 13c - last pond - fishing comorant
Then we saw – CROCZILLA  – the biggest crocodile ever!!!13d - last pond - croczilla
One more mangrove tunnel and we were back where we started.14 - Last turn to home15 - The end of the paddle
We’ve hiked, paddled and been to several ranger led activities,
but this paddle was a real highlight!!!
Later in the afternoon,
just when we thought things couldn’t get any better…
we were invited to Gin and Syl’s place for a “SPECIAL”  dinner!!18a - Gin and Syl
Yep, we had ICE CREAM for dinner….too cool:o))))18c - Ice Cream and more Ice Cream
Guess who was first through the Ice Cream Bar?!?!?18d -  The Elder gets to go first
A little of this and that…       all topped off with whipped cream and a cherry!!!18e -  A work in Progress 18f -  The finishing touch a cherry on top
One by one we each got to create our own ice cream sundae masterpieces!!18g -  Next 18h -  One by One18g -  And the Winner IS
It was so much fun:o))
The Perfect Ending to a Perfect Day!!!


  1. A little out of your comfort zone??? I would have been a whole LOT out of my comfort zone! :)
    That ice cream dinner might have made it worth it though :)

  2. Better that little frog than croczilla hitching a ride in the canoe!

    Those royal terns acted just like a married couple of people we used to live near. :cD

    Now we have to buy a new motorhome like Gin and Syls. We're lucky we can hold a popsicle in our freezer and they can hold four quarts of ice cream in theirs!

  3. Don't worry Paul. We can't hold the ice cream for long. Has nothing to do with the freezer though.
    That was indeed a very nice paddle. I really liked hearing the alligator bellows. That way, I knew they were thinking about mating and not eating. :-)

  4. Ranger-led excursions are the best. We need to do more of them. I am sooooo jealous. Ice cream is my favorite food. We do not keep it in the MH because I would have no will power.

  5. That looks like so much fun..and I'm talking about both adventures!

  6. Great pictures showing the mangrove progression. I think the ranger's explanations would be a real addition to the paddle although you really can do it yourself since the route is numbered. We obviously left too early. I want to hear the bellowing alligators and fix a sundae just exactly like Gin's. I'm trying to figure out what all they had on that counter. Sure looks yummmy!!!

  7. The ice cream looks awesome!! Looks like a great paddle, great experience!

  8. I am really behind in my blog reading! But it's all good as we were enjoying family time. Loved the paddle and ice cream....did not care too much for the bellowing! :-)

  9. We're even further behind in blog reading than Dan and Tricia. Ice cream dinner -- now that's our kind of dinner!