Every year, we try to do one activity as a large group. A couple years we went deep sea fishing, a couple more we did trips to nearby scenic areas and another couple years we all just went to see a movie and eat out at a nice restaurant. This year, since we were in a different area of Florida, we opted to try something local to that area, an air boat ride. We drove north to the Kissimmee River Basin at the head of the Everglades where we charted a couple air boats to take us out through the swamps and marshes to see what we might see. We were hoping to see some alligators and we did, the biggest one a 12 footer seen above. We saw lots of flora and fauna that was exotic to us as well. It was a good trip though a bit on the chilly side since it was only in the low 40's there. Don't worry, we had our light jackets on while the pilots of the air boats were bundled up in heavy down parkas!
Another of our traditions has always been to have a shrimp boil for one meal. In the past, we've always had it towards the end of the trip but there always seemed to be leftovers that had to be tossed before the long drives back home. This year, we did it on the second night there so we could eat leftovers the rest of the week. There were only 13 of us eating, (my grandfather wasn't feeling up to coming over for supper) and we still had enough food to last us several meals.
Path through the preserve
Our rental was just down the road a mile from an preserve where they are trying to establish oak scrub for the scrub jay bird. We did a walk there one afternoon on the only trail which was a vehicle access road that also doubled as a fire break. There was no need for maps because you really couldn't get off trail due to impenetrable scrub growth. I saw one gopher tortoise burrow though it appeared to be inactive. That was the first one of those I've ever seen in my life. We also saw long long leaf pines, a species of trees I don't run into very often either. My southern living brother spends a fair amount of time trying to propagate the species of tree at his job so it was neat listening to him talk about them.