Naples, FL - Aug 2017 - Sun is back in the Sunshine State - Chapter 2

The week started with rain, but today it has moved on. The sky is now a brilliant blue with the white puffy clouds that let your imagination run wild. Gazing skyward, I decided to revisit the Naples Botanical Gardens. A short drive from where I’m staying, this is one of my favorite places that is close to walk the well maintained paved trails with boardwalks and a bird watching tower. Walking these trails, you’ll not only be able to enjoy the natural beauty, but get about 3 miles of exercise.

With the ideal climate, these gardens have plants representing countries from around the world. The majority of plants in each theme garden are marked for easy identification, the flowering blooms are vibrant with fragrances abound. The gardens are well maintained, and most have benches located throughout the garden for relaxation.

This is more than a little water
To the west and south of the gardens are the upland trail and south wetlands which meander around Lake Tupke and Deep Lake where there is a bird watching tower.  With the large amount rain SW Florida has gotten many of the dirt trails were closed due to flooding.  I talked to one ranger and he said there was a 'little water' at the end of the boardwalk; his definition of 'little water' is a lot different than mine.

The other end of the boardwalk trail; still more than a little water
 Along these trails, depending on the time of day and season, you’ll see various birds and other natural Florida wildlife. Although I haven’t seen any yet, the lakes and surrounding wetlands are marked with alligator warnings. As with the gardens, many of these plants are marked for identification.

Wetlands by the birding tower
You're in FL, if you see water expect an alligator
A snake getting sun
A bird along the trail


If walking through nature isn’t your thing, then another pleasant place I revisited was 5th Avenue South in downtown Naples. As to be expected, along here you’ll find plenty of shops and restaurants. While the majority of shopping and eating establishments are within a few blocks along the avenue, following it westward will take you to the Gulf of Mexico.

Taking advantage of another good weather day, I headed south and east into the Florida Everglades. When I arrived my plan was to complete the drive along Janes Scenic Drive which I’d attempted last year. But as life would have it, the semi-maintained dirt road was more flooded this year than last. So, I opted for a 45 minute airboat ride; much more fun than driving on a rickety ass road.

I choose Corey Billy’s Airboat Rides which is located on US 41 or locally known as Tamiami Trail. Prior to the completion of Interstate 75 (Alligator Alley), the Tamiami Trail was the primary road linking Tampa on the west coast to Miami on the east.

An 11 foot gator at the airboat docks
Pat, the alligator trainer holding one of his baby
Teeth, made to clamp and hold-on
A friendly kiss; not for me
Pat's gator waving; looks like the Gieco gecko
On the ride
Wetlands are truly wet
 And now, check out this video of our 45 minute ride.  Relax, the video is only about 3 minutes.

Well the end of phase one of my southern pilgrimage has come to an end. For the next few days I’ll be home, monitoring the track of hurricane Irma. If all goes well, my next stop will be Puerto Rico.

Will I get there before or after Irma?

Until next time,
Safe travels,

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