florida. part deux.
so i’m rEALLy thankful that these posts (true to their name) are post-experience. for one, i might not have done things if i knew what i was getting into. and two, there are certain people (hi mom!) who would be having heart attacks knowing what i was up to. this is for sure with my time in the southern part of everglades national park. but i’ll get there :)
so i got here later saturday evening – got to cruise a couple of my favorite spots on the drive in. even got here in time for the evening ranger program (there’s my nerd side again). caught a great moonrise after. i actually slept in my tent saturday night and got some good sleep. knowing that the next morning was easter morning, i was curious how much i could “make it” into easter, as i was not with any friends or family, nor anywhere close to a church. but i decided to just get up early, and make breakfast while watching the sunrise over the florida bay from the visitor’s center, while i read the resurrection stories in the four gospels. it was an amazing sunrise, and just a really simple time to reflect on the pinnacle of our faith.
then i headed straight to the ranger station to see about kayaking out to the backcountry for an overnight. i’ve done that before here, and it’s really fun being out in the swamp all by yourselves (i was with a friend that time). so i really wanted to do that again. so i got a beach campsite out on the very southwest-most tip of florida…and had to kayak across the florida bay to get there. i didn’t think much of it, since i could hug close to land most of the way, but i was out in open water, sometimes pretty far from land due to being pretty shallow. especially on the way back, i was at lowtide, and was at one point probably a mile from the mainland, out in open water, in my little blue kayak. talk about vulnerability.
here’s where it gets interesting. on my way OUT, i find myself paddling straight toward a crocodile, who is sitting on the muddy bottom with his head poking out of the water. and he isn’t small, folks. from the size of his head, i would guess he was 5+ feet. i stopped paddling, but was still drifting closer. he slowly drew under the water and disappeared. even with all the alligators i’ve paddled by, i never felt so freaked out being in open water with a pretty good sized crocodile. i did NOT feel like the crocodile hunter – “SHE’S A BEAUT!”.
THEN, on the way back, at the point where i was probably a little under a mile from shore, in the open water, in my little blue kayak – i see a dorsal fin. at first glance, i’d assumed it was a harbor porpoise which are all over (and very cool by the way). but the porpoise’s (like a dolphin) tailfin goes horizontally, so you don’t see it out of the water when you see it’s dorsal fin. well this dorsal fin i was seeing, had a tailfin sticking out too. maybe you’ve already guessed, but YES, a shark’s tailfin goes vertically. about 20 feet away was a shark. luckily, it looked relatively small judging by the distance from it’s dorsal to tail fin. but still. a shark. not very far. from me and my little blue kayak. i won’t tell you about the larger dorsal and tail fin i saw about two minutes after that.
but it was worth the trip. i got to spend some time on a SECLUDED BEACH all by myself, and listen to the surf all night long. bugs, you ask? well let me tell you. no mosquitos. BUT. the WORST no-see-ums i have EVER encountered (yes LaVida folks – i mean THE WORST EVER). in the split second it took me to get into my tent to seek solace, like 500 of these things got in with me. wow. i spent the next hour mashing little pencil-tip-size-bugs on the inside of my tent. unbelievable. but i got to see this sunset…
and this sunrise…