During our time here we visited Marco Island down the coast where we could not believe how many large resort style buildings there were - with nobody in them! Now we are aware that they get big storms here now and again but is there something we were missing? Anyway, we stopped off at a marina for a walk and to enjoy the calm waters and wildlife before heading back to Naples for a look at the pier
. The sand was a lovely white-gold colour and it wasn't that busy either. At the end of the pier we stopped a while and watched some of the fishing activity, including one guy who struggled for about 10 minutes with a huge fish (can't remember what type, but it was about 5ft long) before it got away.
Monday morning we headed south east towards the Everglades, which incidentally is big, and took a detour up a few side roads to get a look at the in-land waterways. Along one path we found several pull-in places where we found alligators just lying at the water's edge, literally a few feet from the car. Understandably we just opened the window a little to get a look and a few shots and stayed firmly in the car! We carried on to Cypress to a visitor centre where in the water infront we found a mother and baby resting in the shade. Although we, like a few others, were safe behind a railing several feet above the water, when looking over and down above them it's easy to forget that these creatures can accelerate pretty quickly!
Once in the national park we headed for Shark Valley and joined a two hour eco-tour through the wetlands
. The guide was actually very informative about the history of the Everglades and about the water and it's levels. We spotted several more 'gators, a nest, lots of birds and far too many bugs! Good thing was there were few mosquitos as they all get eaten by the dragonflies, but these are everywhere and are quite large. We were also introduced to a couple of other flying bugs such as the horsefly, whose bite leaves a painful welt. Nice. On the return part of the journey we saw the skies become darker and darker as a huge storm rolled in. They are so quick here - in the space of minutes it had caught up with us. We were literally just getting back in the car when the heavens opened and huge raindrops the size of golf balls plummeted down on the surface - you couldn't see more than a metre infront of you! Like many others we left the area knowing a lot more about the Everglades than before and finding out things that are very surprising - like the number of burmese pythons there are! We were lucky to see it in two different lights as well - when we arrived it was hot and sunny with lots of wildlife visible but by the time we left the storm had made it very windy, overcast and caused the animals and insects to seek refuge.
This place is like a quiet haven in such a touristy, holiday state where there are lots of big houses and condos or appartments. Having said that there were very little numbers of people around and the only frequently spotted workers were fishermen. We stayed in a place just out of the main town but the beach was only a short drive, along with many local shops including somewhere that sold Key Lime Pie. Obviously we tried some - good, but nothing to write home about. Claire's mum's lemon meringue pie is much better!