We started off our adventure at The Museum of the Everglades, which is chock-full of interesting information. Everglades City was founded as a company town by the Collier Company. Barron Gift Collier (his real name) had amassed a fortune in the advertising business. When he came to Southwest Florida, he acquired more than a million acres of property. In exchange for having a county named in his honor, Collier agreed to complete the portion of Tamiami Trail that crossed the Everglades. The difficulty of the project was likened to that of building the Panama Canal.
|Pam and Pat on Sandfly Island|
Collier was a fascinating character. In addition to his role in completing the Tamiami Trail (a project that eventually bankrupted him), he also was influential in persuading the U.S. government to join Interpol and served as the public safety commissioner of New York. In a time when the streets of New York City were suddenly populated with horse-drawn carriages, street cars and automobiles, injuries from jaywalking were a serious problem. Collier's anti-jaywalking campaign reduced the number of accidents by 50% in the first 90 days. (As a veteran NYC jaywalker, I can appreciate this issue. While I never had a problem when I lived there, the ever-increasing bike traffic in the City now makes stepping off the sidewalk a dangerous proposition.)
|Pat with Ted Smallwood|
We woke Saturday morning to a glorious day with sun and no wind. Our ranger-led canoe trip was on!
Although I'm comfortable in a kayak, I was nervous about canoeing. When Pam signed up for the trip, the ranger drilled her about our level of experience and cautioned her that we had to be able to "self-save" if we tipped over. Pam sent us "how to canoe" videos as homework for the outing. And then I started thinking about gators.....
|Pam on the water|
Once we got settled in, it was fun to be on the water. The highlight was two dolphins cavorting near the mangroves. It seemed out of context for Flipper to join us instead of a ravenous alligator, but that was just fine.
It was another wonderful outing with wonderful friends. We're already plotting our get-away for next year. And while a different venue is in order, I'd actually like to get back to the Everglades sometime. There's a 15 mile bike loop in Shark Valley that sounds like fun. And I've always been intrigued by the idea of Clyde Butcher's swamp walks. All in due time.