The Everglades

A few weeks back (before all of this snow in New England), I had a short business trip to Florida. In between meetings, we got a chance to visit the Everglades. We didn’t get far enough south to visit the national park, but I have been there before. We did go on an air boat ride in the Arthur R. Marshall Loxahatchee Wildlife Refuge, which was spectacular. It was a warm day and the sun was shining brilliantly. You could practically hear Interstate 95 just five miles west, but the Everglades was a paradise. It is an amazing ecosystem and we saw so much wildlife. We were told that the glades had receded by miles, eliminating millions of acres of habitat.

We spotted alligators, turtles, fish, bees, waterfowl, and other birds. Our tour guide was “Wild” Lyle from Loxahatchee Air Boat Tours. Wild Lyle was a capable guide and driver. He told tall tales about Everglades rescues, airplane crashes, alligator fights, and skin burning water.

We spotted several encampments, which Lyle said sell for millions of dollars. He said that they cannot be used for commercial purposes, but that the owners can stay there. He said that many of them are party spots.

The air boats are custom-built skiffs. They are fitted with eight-cylinder big block engines that make a lot of noise. The driver sits right on top of the engine. Everyone wore ear protection.

We spent a couple of hours exploring the waterways and experiencing the wonderful wildlife. When we got back to the sprawl of the 95 corridor, it was weird to leave nature behind.

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