The ever evolving decor of our camper has reached new heights (or depths!), as our wetbath is now a mermaids delight, adorned with whimsical sea creatures! Okay, maybe more than just a tad childish but they make me smile! (Clearly I am very easy to please)

On Saturday December 10th we three amigos (Lizard, Bird, & teeny tiny Tyrannosaurus Rex) loaded our home away from home atop The Truuuuuck and ventured forth!

Sesquicentennial state park, SC was our first stop. Then a night driveway camping at Charlie’s before our final pre-Werz Family Christmas destination: Everglades National Park!

This is is Evergades National Parks 75th anniversary year, bonus! We arrived at our blissfully internet free, tv free, cell phone dead zone campsite in Flamingo Florida shortly before sunset. The campground is probably about a third full – likely will fill up closer to the weekend when we depart. The campground is resplendent with live oak festooned gaily in garlands of soft gray spanish moss!

On our first full day little T Rex & I foolishly wandered out to go walkies without dousing liberally with insect repellent. Big Mistake! HUGE MISTAKE..! We quite *literally* ran back to the safety of the camper, seeking to rectify the situation. First can of deep woods Off was dead… OMG!!! Fortunately we located another can which provided blessed protection and walkies safely resumed!

How could we have forgotten Floridas state “bird”?

Afterwards we drove to the marina to see if we could spot the loveable lumps- manatees! We were thrilled with manatee, pipefish, and the eyes of a crocodile. A flock of gorgeous white pelicans soared overhead! On the drive back we rescued a Florida box turtle, all in all a glorious start to our Everglades sojourn!

After lunch we walked over to oceanside. Glorious clear blue skies with red-shouldered hawks crying out as they flew past. Anoles popping up & quickly scurrying away! Brown pelicans fishing in the ocean with great clumsy splashes! We could even see the islands of the Florida keys in the distance.

Evenings at the campground were dedicated to holiday cartoon classics! First off was Dr Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas! Then Frosty the Snowman and Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer!

Guess who decided to ride up front?

Our last full day at the park started with a disappointment. The wondrous Anhinga trail where we saw 11 gators in 2019, and watched an anhinga hunting underwater(!) was closed. So we went to every other stop on the way back to the campground! Mahogany Hammock still kept its barred owls hidden but its lovely boardwalk crosses the sea of grass & loops around through the lush hardwoods & tropical palms of the hammock itself!

Our marina stop was sheer delight with at least a dozen manatee drifting up, snorting, and sinking down again! When we had our fill of the floating huffalumps we walked over to the canal and spied an utterly massive crocodile! Ranger said he was about twelve foot long(!) The beast swam right over to where we stood on the bridge overlooking the canal – his head was as big as Rex!

I treated myself to Marjorie Stoneman Douglas’ classic book “The Everglades – River of Grass” which was published in 1947, the same year Everglades became a National Park. Thoroughly engrossing, I spent the rest of the the afternoon happily immersed!

Oh happy happy day! On our way out of the Everglades we stopped at Royal Palm to do the Anhinga Trail! Lovely water lily filled lakes, walking on boardwalk trails through sawgrass plains that stretched as far as the eye can see. We even had an obliging alligator cruising across the waterway! Practically perfect in every way!

Fun factoids I’ve learned about the Everglades: The first english maps referred to the area as “River Glades” (glades being meadows) but soon it became “Everglades”. The term hatchee means river and slough means marsh! So Coosahatchee Slough is a name describing the coosa river marsh! Also sable is french for sand!

Everglades Bird Sightings: Great Egret, Great Blue Heron, Turkey Vulture, Green Heron, Ibis, Belted Kingfisher, Crow, Boat-tailed Grackle, Red Winged Blackbird, Anhinga, Wood Stork, Brown Pelican, RedBellied Woodpecker, White Pelican, Palm Warbler, Red Shouldered Hawk, & Osprey with prey!

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