Welcome to the A-Z Guidebook Link Up. If you would like to join, read the A-Z Guidebook tab at the top of the blog and write a travel post relating to the letter of the month.
Things have settled in nicely and it’s great to see some regulars and newbies joining in. Make sure you invite your blogging friends to join in for one letter or all of the letters. It doesn’t really matter as long as it’s the right letter! This month:
F or Fast
I never thought I would find myself in Florida. I love the ridiculousness of the United States. Its fakery and bling. Its supersized lifestyle. Its cheap groceries. It’s an easy and fun travel experience. I just never saw myself visiting Florida as I thought it held little interest for me. Then the long, dark, freezing European autumn and winter loomed and suddenly, Florida became an appealing destination. We planned a two week trip from the UK to Florida in 2010 to coincide with the launch of the Space Shuttle Discovery on its last mission, STS-133. We figured: visit the Kennedy Space Centre, do some rides at Disneyworld, eat some pumpkin pie and food draped in cheese, watch the Space Shuttle take off from Cape Canaveral and above all, stay warm. NASA had other plans. In the two weeks were in Florida, Discovery’s launch was delayed four times. There was nothing for it but to see what else Florida had on offer. As we found out – quite a lot.
Two weeks in Orlando turned into a road trip along the east coast, all the way down to the tip of the Florida Keys at Key West. We crammed a lot in but one of the most memorable days was visiting the Florida Everglades. First stop was Everglades National Park. Americans do National Parks very well. We’ve been to many and have never been disappointed. The visitor information centres are always so interesting and the Rangers helpful. Visiting Everglades NP was a bit like visiting a NP in the Northern Territory. It was hot, sticky, there were lots of insects and warning signs about not straying off the path lest we should be eaten by a large predator. We took a self guided walk along wooden boardwalks, keeping our eyes peeled for alligators. There was nothing. We sat in a rest area with a shrill cicada soundtrack, our eyes becoming accustomed to the shadows and lazy currents. As we sat looking, we realised that there were eyes looking back at us.
There, camouflaged amongst the grasses was our first wild alligator. Not the biggest monster we’d see that day but certainly worth the wait. After a while, the alligator quietly submerged and disappeared without a ripple. Continuing along the boardwalks, we became better at spotting the gators hidden in amongst the grasses and lily pads, always watching us. Later in the day we visited an alligator park which included an air boat ride out into the midst of the Everglades where the big alligators lurk. It was just as thrilling as it looked all those years ago on Gentle Ben and though completely touristy with zig zags and donuts, was not to be missed.