Got the motorhome set up and then went exploring - we'd heard so much about the Everglades, and here we were in the middle of that area...it was time! Our RV Park was about 10 minutes away from the Everglades Alligator Farm, which was the first alligator farm in Dade County - allowed by the state back in 1985 as a way to halt the extinction of this species, which dates back to the time of the dinosaur. The Everglades Alligator Farm is currently home to about 2,000 alligators of all sizes. The smaller alligators are kept in growout pens and the larger alligators are in natural settings called breeding ponds
. (See Picture #1) It takes about 6 years for an alligator to start breeding. The female alligator will have only one clutch of eggs a year, depending on the mother's age and fertility the clutch will contain up to 45 eggs. A trip to the alligator farm includes an exciting airboat tour (See Picture #2) into the surrounding Everglades and a walk around the farm to see the alligators, crocodiles, caimans, and wildlife. There are Alligator and Snake informational presentations...we were amazed to hear that these huge alligators (the largest there was 15' and weighed over 700 pounds) have a crushing power of 3,000 psi in their jaws and, despite their appearance, alligators are extremely quick and agile. They are capable of amazingly fast bursts of speed, if only for a short distance. It has been said that an alligator can outrun a horse for a distance of 30 feet. There is also a great display of local snakes along with some of the more exotic species of snakes from around the world. After the snake show, anyone who cared to hold the albino python could do so - you can see that one of us took advantage of this opportunity in the third picture.
After leaving the alligator farm, we drove around the area and checked out Homestead/Miami Speedway, (Pictures 4 & 5)which was getting ready for the Indy Race there that weekend (yes, believe it or not, we were going to leave an area without having attended a race!). When driver Paul Dana was killed in practice there that weekend, we were relieved we hadn't stayed.
We drove from Wauchula down to Homestead/Florida City - just about the Southernmost mainland point before entering the Florida Keys. (and...because we questioned how/why they were called the "Keys" - here's the scoop: "keys, cays 1. A small low island or reef formed of sand, coral, rock or mud, especially one off the coast of Florida. Etymology: 17c: from Spanish cayo.")