Our winters here in the Pacific Northwest are generally a wet, overcast and grey skies kind of affair. There have been times, when the sun wasn’t visible for well over a month! The positive side of all the precipitation is, of course, lush beautiful forests, rivers, lakes and snow covered mountains.
During one of those gloomy and dreary winters, we escaped to Florida for a short vacation. We flew into Fort Lauderdale and traveled by car all the way down to Key West. We spent a few days there, visited a bird sanctuary along the way and on the way back up, we spent a night in Florida City at the Everglades International Hostel, explored the area around Everglades City, and then checked out the Everglades National Park.
The resident cat and a great egret greeted us at the entrance of the Laura Quinn Wild Bird Sanctuary. Magnificent wood storks with their bald, black heads and dressed in long white plumes appeared to be unafraid of human visitors. A large congregation of egrets, both the great and the snowy, were grooming their plumage in a grassy meadow. Brown pelicans curiously checked me out from the safety of their roof top. This sanctuary is big, and houses many different species of birds, many of them recuperating until they are ready to be released back into the wild. Others are live out the remainder of their lives at this sanctuary due to permanent injuries and an inability to survive on their own.
If you love birds, it’s definitely worth a visit!
We got glimpses of playful, giant manatees peeking out of the water, white ibises waddling through grass and turkey vultures sunning themselves atop a gazebo. In Florida City, the hostel we stayed at had papaya and starfruit trees! A few pieces of fruit came home with me in my suitcase!
There wasn’t a whole lot of time to explore the Everglades. We did enjoy some nature walks, on which we encountered lots of alligators basking in the sun. On a boat ride, we went past numerous pairs of osprey, guarding their nests, terns, cormorants, herons, egrets and a few bald eagles. On a future visit, I hope to kayak through some of this terrain!
Key West is an interesting place to visit. We stopped by the southernmost point in Florida, the Key West Nature and Butterfly Conservatory, ate delectable Cuban food and indulged in a piece of Key Lime pie!! A brilliant sunset on our last evening in Key West made for a memorable romantic evening walk, and a perfect ending to our quick winter escape.