The Everglades Adventure - Day 0

Flamingo and Steve's Memorial Cruise on 'The Windfall'


Garmin Mapsource view taken from the eTrex Legend C. This is a great little handheld GPS. It takes two AA batteries and I only used four during the entire adventure. Pretty amazing! (of course the backlighting was off).



This is the Everglades National Park South Entrance - the road to Flamingo.
I left home, St.Petersburg, Florida that is, at 3am. The sun had just poked its head above its Homestead Eastern horizon. I'm at the peak of excitement about this wilderness adventure at this time and the adrenaline is cranking. This is the type of adventure Steve and I enjoyed most in our younger days.
Our Grandad Clark would take us men up to our lake place in Darby, Fl for the weekend so Steve and I could learn about the birds and fish...bees came later. At such a heightened stage of awareness we sometimes see or hear things that would normally be passed by. I was keen on anything that moved, smelled, or made a different sound...



Skunk Ape...what the...thought I saw a Skunk Ape in the rear view mirror. Been prepared to encounter one of these creatures but not on the first day just driving in the park! Tried getting a photo but...too late...in fact I did not see it all that well...think it was a Skunk Ape, smelled like Skunk Ape, looked like Skunk Ape country. Man was that thing fast, it must have blended in with the surroundings, eyes playing tricks already. Put up my brave chin and moved on. I'm geared up for some excitement now! Frigin Skunk Ape country - was I ready?



I'll be ready here on out with camera in hand. Will not have another Skunk Ape get away from the viewfinder next time. And really, thought I was prepared...



I have arrived! I located the Windfall schooner with ease as it is the only large ship of this type around. I walked down the dock checking out the rig with tanbark sails and no one is stirring. Thinking this may be a good time to get my permit so off I go a hundred yards or so from the marina. This is the Flamingo Visitors Center in which Steve shared countless words with folks from all over the world. It is the place to go for Backcountry Permits and just about anything else you would want to know about the Everglades.



An Osprey has made a home here too! Just look up as you enter the center.



View of the Flamingo Visitors Center from the Florida Bay back side. Note the Osprey nest in the upper right on the tower in this photo.



This is a memorial plaque put together by Steve and Amelia's good friends Tim and Christy. The plaque is located inside the Flamingo Visitors Center, Everglades National Park, which Steve was such a large part of for 25 years. Please click for the larger view, you should be able to read the caption. Please come visit Steve's special place...



Inside the Visitors Center a very helpful Geri checked all of my daily destinations and wow, my 1st choices were available. I get her stamp of approval and my permit. I had originally scheduled 14 days - 13 nights in the wilderness but the weather had a few plans of its own. Read about the changes on the main Everglades Adventure Day pages to find out why...



I came upon the rental canoe loading area just in time to meet this 14' fellow. Welcome to the Everglades! These American Crocodiles were all around the boating area on the Buttonwood Canal side as canoeists took to the water. I dreamt about launching possibilities and powerful jaws next morning, for sure! None of the Crocs looked as if to be starving. A quick scan revealed at least four of these babies with fat bellies hanging around in and out of the water. I wondered their reaction should one of the many inexperienced tourists tip a canoe nearby?



Same loading area the previous photo was taken, 5 minutes later...notice the red canoes...the Croc ran his snout into the one on the left. Park workers did warn folks about getting too close. One foreign group on return got within 10' to take photos and the worker said "That's close enough". Darn right, I would be on the opposite bank with a telephoto lens walking backwards.



Sunbathing Croc in Flamingo. This little fellow was soaking rays on the Flamingo dam embankment just opposite the canoe launch ramp. These reptiles seem pretty tame but that could change in an instant. Too many folks become complacent around these prehistoric carnivores - I caution respect!



Windfall at her Flamingo Marina berth. Owner Captain Rob is a fine and able sailing master with just enough pirate in him to take a leg or arm, better watch your step landlubbers. Thanks Capt. Rob for an unforgetable Full Moon Howl Memorial Sail.



Capt. Rob at the helm. Full Moon Howl memorial cruise for Steve on the Windfall with his friends and coworkers from the Everglades, Capt. Rob, owner/swashbuckler, was a grand skipper. I was fortunate to stow away and meet the original owner of 'Robinson Calusa' and learn much about the history of this very special 1985 Wenonah canoe. As the sun was setting a feeling came over that I was in a special place. The adventure had begun! Tomorrow morning I would embark on something I have never done in a small ship. The memory from earlier in the day of huge Crocs near the launch site made it that much more interesting. See the Windfall Memorial Sail page for photos. The last words I remember were "Arr Matey", I was thrilled to have disembarked and awake the next morn with all limbs still atached.

The Windfall


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