Sunday, February 22, 2009

Better than Disney!

We headed south to Naples after doing Disney World and the Space Center so we could ride an airboat in the Everglades. It was my favorite part of the trip! We ended up at Captain Doug's small airboat tours in Everglades City, and Captain Bobby took us out on the airboat. Captain Bobby grew up there and knew the area like the back of his hand. And the front of it too! He took this picture of the 5 of us. That is my mom next to me, and CJ, Katie and Deena in front.

As we pulled away from the dock and headed out, this guy decided to ride with us for a while. Every airboat I saw coming in or going out had at least one Pelican hood ornament. We had 2 for a while. And you know how much I love Pelicans! I was in a Peli-lover's photographic heaven! I'll post more of those later though.

So we head over to where Captain Bobby spotted this gator earlier in the day, and he was still there, soaking up the sun. He looked to be about 9 feet long, but we didn't get close enough to make sure. That saying about sleeping dogs applies to gators too!

We left Mr. Gator to continue his nap while we hunted for more critters. Captain Bobby really knows where to look. He stopped the boat and said to watch in this one spot of the water where there were different ripples, and sure enough, up popped a manatee snout. This was the only photo I got of it before it disappeared into the depths of the swamp. The airboats have a flat bottom and no propeller so they can't harm the manatees like other boats can.

We zipped around in the mangroves for a while. The trails looked like a dead end, where we would crash into this tangle of roots and branches, but Captain Bobby navigated them perfectly and we would emerge into a lake of sorts. What a rush!!!

This guy was hanging out in one of the lakes, and he swam over to check us out and see if we had any snacks for him. Feeding the gators is not allowed, but people do anyway.

He saw my camera and gave me a big smile... Cheese! What a ham.

We left Mr. Gator heading over to another boat that had just emerged from the mangrove forest and went looking for more swamp critters. Captain Bobby pulled up to the shore of this little island and two sets of eyes peered out. It was a momma raccoon and her little one.
They like Captain Bobby because he gives them treats. Have you ever seen a raccoon on too much caffeine? More like a tasmanian devil. Ok, maybe not. It was just water in the Mountain Dew bottle. These are salt water swamps, and since fresh water is hard to come by, Captain Bobby gives these little guys a sip whenever he happens by. They also had a marshmallow treat as we were leaving.

As we were heading back in after an hour that felt more like a few minutes, our escort returned.

Sorry Mickey, I have never had this much fun at Disney...
By the way, if you are ever in Everglades City for an airboat ride, go to Captain Doug's and ask for Captain Bobby. He knows where all the critters like to hang out.

1 comment:

  1. Okay - I'm jealous! That looks like the most wonderful outing! We had decided to cross off Florida from our return vacation list, but I may have to write it back on just to do Captain Bobby's tour! Fabulous pictures! Love that speed one - really looks like we're all zooming down the marsh!