Billie Swamp Safari, Seminole Indian Reservation 12/11/2013

DECEMBER 11, 2013 (Wednesday)

 

CORRECTION: Just got word from a nice fellow who reads our blog, Rodney, that I was wrong about the name of the group photographed on 12/6/2013.  We had been told The Wanted was there and I “assumed” it was them.  Rodney, who is from Florida and knows much more about Disney World than I do said it was an Italian singing group called “Il Volo.” Thank you Rodney for keeping us straight. Appreciate it. Wish I had seem them on PBS last night.

 

Fun day! The one thing Michael wanted to do while here in Southern Florida was ride on an air boat. He said that’s something he’s wanted to do for quite a long time (who knew). Anyway, we were up, had breakfast, and out the door to this adventure by 10:30 AM.

First stop was gas ($3.50 gallon, ouch) and then on I-75 North (Alligator Alley) for about 30 miles. We were told to take the first right after you get on the toll road (I-75) and go another approximately 20 miles to Billie’s Swamp Tours. Michael had tried calling before we left the resort to make reservations but they don’t accept them unless it’s for a large group. 

Wanted a full tank for our trip into the everglades.

Wanted a full tank for our trip into the Everglades.

Not sure why it is so high here.

Not sure why it is so high here.

I-75, Allegator Alley, the everglades.

I-75, Alligator Alley, the Everglades.

 

How can it be bad when your exit is Snake Road?

How can it be bad when your exit is Snake Road?

Immediately upon turning onto the approximate 20 miles of road the first exit off I-75, heading to Billie Swamp Safari, we saw an alligator near a gas station. We stopped and took pictures. At first we thought it was fake, until it moved to get more comfortable. It was fresh out of the water as it was still jet black and hadn’t dried out any.

Just off the freeway and Edie insisted I stop at the gas station on the corner.  We went to the side and saw this fair sized alligator sunning himself. There was a cyclone fence between us and the gator, but he could have walked around it.  We were ready to run.

Just off the freeway and Edie insisted I stop at the gas station on the corner. We went to the side and saw this fair sized alligator sunning himself. There was a cyclone fence between us and the gator, but he could have walked around it. We were ready to run.

Lots of nice houses on the reservation, but all had a hut in the yard, open below and thatched roof above.

Lots of nice houses on the reservation, but all had a hut in the yard, open below and thatched roof above.

Vultures hanging out everywhere.  Lots of death afoot.  Someone's got to clean up the mess.

Vultures hanging out everywhere. Lots of death afoot. Someone’s got to clean up the mess.

 

Vultures, quit lookin at me!

Vultures, quit lookin at me!

We drove on and got lost a little but then found the turn to the tour. The road is under construction so it was a little tricky but Michael did a great job of getting us there safely. The facility was undergoing a lot of construction as well. We saw people putting thatched roofs up and other activity.  The sidewalk up to the main part of the gift shop (where you buy the tickets) was closed so we had to go around. Buying the tickets was very quick and we were told the boat left every thirty minutes or so.

Florida Bear Paw Prints in the side walk, I hope they are fake and no bear was harmed in the making of these artifacts.

Florida bear paw prints in the side walk, I hope they are fake and no bear was harmed in the making of these artifacts.

Grumpy old man wandering.

Grumpy old man wandering.

Big turtles at the safari center. Not Galapagos size, but about 3 feet long I'd guess.

Big turtles at the safari center. Not Galapagos size, but about 3 feet long I’d guess.

Turtle trails in the sand.

Turtle trails in the sand.

I've seen these a thousand times on TV and have always wanted to ride one.

I’ve seen these a thousand times on TV and have always wanted to ride one.

Donkey.

Donkey.

We walked around and saw the panther in it’s cage. Felt sorry for it as it looked so lonely. Saw some turtles, donkeys, and alligators (in cages). We walked over to the boat launch area and saw a boat pulling out. We decided to go have lunch while we waited for another one.  We walked a short way over to the Swamp Water Cafe. I ordered a diet coke, Lexi a regular coke, and Michael ordered water. He said it tasted like swamp water. It was so funny to see the look on his face every time he took a drink.

Florida Panther.  Looks like what we would call a mountain lion back in California.

Florida panther. Looks like what we would call a mountain lion back in California.

Alligator.

Alligator.

Coming out of the water.

Coming out of the water.

Michael then ordered a veggie burger, Lexi a regular burger, and I ordered Indian tacos. Very large portions – too large – but the food was decent.  (They have more exotic things like frogs legs and gator meat if you want.)

Giant drink.

Giant drink.

Edie's Indian Taco on Fry Bread.

Edie’s Indian taco on fry bread.

 

My Veggie Burger.

My veggie burger.

 

Lex's cheeseburger.

Lex’s cheeseburger.

After lunch we meandered back to the boat launch and were greeted by a very nice young man (sorry we didn’t get his name).  We asked him how long he had been driving boats and he said about 45 minutes. He got us right onto the boat and we were his only passengers. Loved it. We were able to have fun and leisurely go through the swamp. He pointed out the gators for awhile, along with the turtles, but we also saw water buffalo and tons of different types of birds. Saw so many gators – big ones, small ones, medium ones, and one huge one. He pointed out the cypress trees and the “knees” that are part of the root system. All very interesting. Was sad when the ride ended.

Turtle in the alligator pit, hope they are not feeding the alligators.

Turtle in the alligator pit, hope they are not feeding the alligators.

Turtle love, Edie was greatly amused as he moaned and made "the face."

Turtle love, Edie was greatly amused as he moaned and made “the face.”

 

Edie's penchant.  Pretty flowers.

Edie’s penchant. Pretty flowers.

Felt like I was going into a Tarzan movie.

Felt like I was going into a Tarzan movie.

It was pretty.

It was pretty.

Water buffalo.

Water buffalo.

 

Would not want to swim or walk in these waters.

Would not want to swim or walk in these waters.

Big guy, or gal, not sure.

Big guy, or gal, not sure.

Trying to imagine war in the everglades or prison escape movies.  Rough country. Lots to eat, but lots that wants to eat you.

Trying to imagine war in the Everglades or prison escape movies. Rough country. Lots to eat, but lots that wants to eat you.

Lex in the everglades, on gator watch.

Lex in the Everglades, on gator watch.

 

Grumpy old man trying to figure out the camera he can barely see.

Grumpy old man trying to figure out the camera he can barely see.

 

Cypress Trees.

Cypress trees.

It was exotic.

It was exotic.

Trees with knees, which is a part of the root system of the cypress.

Trees with knees, which is a part of the root system of the cypress.

It was very pretty.

It was very pretty.

 

Lots of tree moss in this area.

Lots of tree moss in this area.

 

Gator.

Gator.

 

Gator.

Gator.

Swamp thing crossing in front of us.

Swamp thing crossing in front of us.

 

Neat birds.

Neat birds.

 

Our boat captain.

Our boat captain.

 

Native huts.

Native huts.

 

Totem.

Totem.

Dugouts being created.

Dugouts being created.

Birds.

Birds.

Nice touch in the sidewalk.

Nice touch in the sidewalk.

Dugout in progress.

Dugout in progress.

Small carvings.

Small carvings.

Men's restroom.  I liked the wood counters.  Not sure why they had showers.  Considered it briefly and decided not to shower there, no towel, no place for clothes, etc...

Men’s restroom. I liked the wood counters. Not sure why they had showers. Considered it briefly and decided not to shower there, no towel, no place for clothes, etc…

Pretty woman and her girl.  Edie always says, "I am following you."  This is what I always see.

Pretty woman and her girl. Edie always says, “I am following you.” This is what I always see.

We were going to go to the Sawmill Outlet Mall (the largest one in the world(?) we were told, but the Garmin couldn’t find it. We decided just to go home and relax for awhile before we took a swim. We’ll probably do the outlet tomorrow.

That was our exciting day. Hope yours was great!

 

 

 

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