Miles Today: 193.2
Total Miles: 3868.7
Days on the Road: 100
Minimum Number of Bug Bites on Anthony's Right Foot: 41
Left Foot: 45
The Dizzying Heights of the Everglades
Decked Out Adventure Tourist o' the Day
You Will Be Seeing Unusual Accomplishment
People who live in South Florida would never go anywhere near the Everglades in the summer. And with good reason. We thought the mosquitoes elsewhere were militant, but these surely qualify as a terrorist organization. The campground was eerily empty, even the lodge was no real haven; the advice given to us when we got a room was, "Go in, close the door immediately, turn the air-conditioner on full blast, kill all the mosquitoes you can find and don't go outside again until you're ready to leave. Oh, and also don't walk on the grass, sit in the shade, or open your car windows." Welcome to the wonder that is our National Parks. Nothing like getting back to nature.
Yesterday we were in Biscayne National Park, just a few miles away from Everglades, and almost entirely under water. This is a nice feature, since mosquitoes are land dwelling. We had a great day snorkeling over the east coast's last living coral reef and chatting with our deadhead guide and leathery boat captain.
Everglades is a different story. After driving, escorted, through 5 miles of dense smoke from a "prescribed burn", we almost ran over a huge snake, a raccoon and several bunnies. Thankfully no one was actually hurt. We had less compassion for the bugs, whom we kill with extreme prejudice every chance we get. We've taken to leaving as many carcasses around the car as possible as a grim warning to those that would follow, but it's not working. They're fearless.
We arrived at Flamingo, where most everyone was wearing full head-to-toe net suits and we didn't have any. We locked ourselves in the room for the night, munched crackers and swatted at the walls. In the morning we hopped on a boat full of much older tourists and were yelled at by the captain to sit down. The trip was pretty, and pretty damn boring, until a group of 6 or 7 dolphin started swimming alongside the boat. They played and cavorted and raced and chased the boat for 20 minutes, demonstrating their obvious intelligence. We were then horrified to hear about Key West's annual Dolphin contest, during which a large cash prize is given to the angler who can land the largest dolphin. And then we saw dolphin on a menu. And then we realized that there is a fish called dolphin, and people are not, in fact, eating, like, dolphins.
The unusual accomplishment? Coral Castle. Built entirely by the hands of a 5 foot tall, 100 pound Latvian, Coral Castle is a large, weird monument to lost love. Turns out this guy was left at the altar so he decided to spend the rest of his life quarrying and carving coral. Why not. He made rocking chairs, 9-ton gates that are so perfectly balanced they turn with the push of a finger, and, of course, the penitence corner. To this day, no one is really sure how he did it. For our part, we couldn't figure it out either. It was also quite a mystery why it cost $9.50 to get in.
© 2002, 2003 Anthony Hecht and Liz Jones. All rights reserved.