With the water still sloshing around in my ears, we packed up our stuff and headed out of the Keys. Bye bye beautiful palm trees. Our next stop was a couple of nights in the Everglades National Forest. I’d asked Stef to make sure we stayed there when she was planning Florida. To be honest, I don’t know why as I knew nothing about it apart from there are crocodiles everywhere. I guess the name just sounds cool.
As we were arriving, we saw a sign that warned us of the great Florida Panther. A little bit worrying as we were due to be camping there! A few miles into Panther territory, we stopped for our photo at the park entry sign. It was right next to bushes. Perfect for a Panther to jump out. As soon as the photo was taken, we ran straight back to the car! Stef told me that in the book, it states that the area is also known for its mosquitoes. Great.
As we got near the Flamingo Campground, there was a car with its hazard lights on in the road and a woman hanging out of the rear window. What an earth was she doing? As we got closer, we could see that she was looking at a giant crocodile just lying by the side of the road. It was massive. As we approached it, it ran into the swamp. It could move fast.
So not only did we have to worry about man eating panthers and blood sucking mosquitoes, we also had to fear crocodiles that can give a cheetah a run for its money. It’s a good job we were sleeping in a tent with walls made of thin cloth…
As we entered the Flamingo Campground, we were puzzled to see how empty it was. There were only 2 other tents and it was quite a big site. We took a second look at the tents. One of them had a jeep next to it. The rear doors and the boot were open and there was no one around. The other tent had collapsed at the back. There was no one around and it felt really spooky. Had they become victims to the wildlife? I didn’t investigate. We never did see the owners.
After putting up the tent under possibly the biggest tree ever, we went for a walk to the sea that was about 10-minutes away. After taking a very dodgy short cut across some very dangerous marshland, we made it. Did I mention that there are also 5 types of deadly snake that live here too? The water was very calm and shallow – perfect for crocs. As we stood by the edge we wondered how quickly a croc could come out and grab us. Every now and again we would hear a splashing sound. By the time we turned around, all we would see were ripples a few metres out to sea. Stef started to get concerned. I should have been but I decided to stay near the edge and get my camera at the ready. If I were going to get attacked, at least there would be a great photo of it!
We then saw what was making the noise. It was fish. A FLYING FISH! They were jumping out of the water. Again! What’s with all the fish in Florida? But at least this time they were jumping back into the water and not onto land. It was so bizarre and very hard to film or photo. They jumped out so quick that it was pure luck that I managed to capture some on camera. I don’t normally post sub-par quality photos on the blog so excuse the slight blurriness – but they just had to be seen.
Apart from looking at the extremely bright large moon that graced us that night, there was nothing else to do there apart from cook some dinner and watch a film. The mosquitoes were out in full force so we were grounded to the tent.
During the night, all sorts of noises awoke us. At one point, you could hear an animal dragging itself on the grass just outside a tent. Possibly a killer crocodile but I sure wasn’t going to look. Maybe it was the next tenants of the next door tent ripping up a cardboard box…
The next morning we were up very early. We heard a small animal scuttling outside, around our head area. It then ran up the tent and stopped at the top. I shone the torch up to see a mouse running around! We had originally decided to spend 2 nights here. We were going to go on a trek. Yep that’s right. Stef had planned for us to walk through a forest inhabited by wild panthers and crocodiles. I quickly vetoed that. As we looked up through the skylight in the tent, you could see all the mosquitoes trying to get in through the netting. There were hundreds of them. It was time to get out of there. We’d had enough.
It was baking hot but to protect ourselves from getting bitten from the bugs while we packed up the tent, we both had hoodies and trousers on. I was sweating buckets. After stopping back at the fish jumping sea for some sunrise photos, we stopped off at Starbucks for a morning pick-me-up and I booked us a night back in Orlando. We still had tickets to the water park and as the weather was very sunny, it was our last chance to use them.