Monday, January 23, 2012

Shark Valley–Everglades National Park, FL…

Purple Gallinule

Baby GatorAnother really special park can be found in Shark Valley at the Everglades National Park. There are several way to see this park… on foot, on bike, or take the guided tram. We decided to do the wonderful bike ride there since we had brought our bikes along and the weather was perfect…

The sign to Shark Valley is a bit hard to see but the cars parked all along the roadsideGreat Blue Heron are not easy to miss. As is typical on weekends, the park’s parking lot was already full and cars so cars were parked along the state highway. We found a spot and parked, took the bikes off of the bike rack and rode to the pay station where we flashed our National Parks Pass, which will save you the $5.00 per head entry fee.

The bike trail is a 15 mile paved road with no hills to climb or rough terrain to traverse making for a nice 2 or 3 hour ride. We know this now after having done the loop but when we first arrived we planned to ride 1-2 hours around what I recalled was a 6 mile loop… but is is much longer, ooops!!!

Observation Tower

The first half of the loop was teeming with various birds and oodles of alligators. We stopped for many photo opportunities but eventually made it to the observation tower just short of halfway on the loop trail. It was then that I began to suspect the bike trail was closer to 9 miles… Not to be deterred we went up the tower to look over the expanse that is the Everglades…

We continued on the trail which I assumed to be about the same distance as the first part only to discover it wasn’t as it meandered back and forth along the marsh lands. The first half of the trail had been a straight shot to the tower so as time passed we both started to get a bit tired and cranky. Because we didn’t eat lunch before we began the ride, this may have attributed to some of the crankiness along with the extra 3-4 miles of unplanned riding we undertook…


If you do this ride I may recommend that you only ride to the observation town and then back along the same trail since the best wildlife viewing is on this half of the trail. Plan on a long and tiring ride in the Florida heat and as we found out we both needed some time to recover from the long day it took riding the full loop…

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Road Treats of Key West, FL…


Some of our favorite things we did while here in the Keys:image

  • Best Happy Hour outside of Key West – Hogfish Bar and Grill
  • Best Happy Hour in Key West – Boat House Bar
  • Best local food establishment in Key West – Mr. Z’s
  • Best Beach – Higgs Beach
  • Best Happy Hour Menu – Boat House Bar
  • Best Street to Walk – Duval Street, Key West
  • Best Event to Watch/Photograph - Key West Race Week
  • Best Biking – Anywhere in Key West
  • Best People Watching – 100 to 300 block of Duval when cruise ships are in
  • Best Bartender – Patty Wacker at the Hogfish Bar and Grill
  • Most fun event – Key West Seafood Festival

Sailing Regatta