Thursday, December 26, 2013

The Everglades and Miami

In the morning we got back on the road after staying in a hotel on the mainland but not too far from Sanibel. Our mission was now to see the Everglades. Well it turns out the Everglades are freaking gigantic, so it was a bit difficult to decide how to interact with them. Going to the National Park visitor center is usually a pretty solid move when in doubt, but this time it was pretty disappointing. The actual visitor center was small, and situated above a sketchy gift shop pushing boat rides aggressively. It wasn't really worth the stop, but it did free up time for some fun later on.

Native Americans have several touristy spots along Route 41, which traverses the Everglades. We decided to take a peek at a couple of them.

I feel like there were others, but the tribe that we interacted with was the Miccosukee.

I challenge any tourist to not stop when driving by a giant statue of a man punching an alligator.

We first checked out a gift shop area, and they were having some sort of a cultural festival which felt expensive to us at the time. The fan boat rides, though, now there's some entertainment.

At the mid point of the trip we were fan-boated (blown?) over to an encampment in the middle of the swamp. It's apparently a pretty old spot, and our guide said that the tribe is descended from the Native Americans who evaded government relocation by hiding in the Everglades.

Lydia was worried about wild animals, but I was on the lookout.

The ride was awesome, but it had an unfortunate ending. Despite the fact that we were right next to the dock, our guide wouldn't let us off the boat. I thought we were going to get a "be sure to tip me" talk, but instead the guide treated his captive audience to a weird rambling religious speech featuring a near-death experience. No tip for you, crazy!

Back on shore we ate at a nearby restaurant run by the tribe. We read that they had exceptional pumpkin bread, so had to have that. It was like a dense, crispy pancake sort of thing. It was great but filling. We hardly had any room left for our frog legs!

 The rest of the drive to Miami was uneventful, but rainy. Lydia had found a pretty awesome hotel for us to stay at, the Mayfair Hotel & Spa, which had these unique open air atrium things within it.

In a cruel twist of fate, the hotel's coolest feature ended up being its downfall. All of that rain mixed with the open roofing led to some serious leakage. Now I'm not a scientist, but I'm pretty sure that fan boat captain put some sort of a swampy curse on me for not tipping.

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