Thursday – January 31, 2013
We awoke to a brief rain shower this morning with the temperature dipping into the low 60’s. The cold front from the north had worked its way down into southern Florida. It was overcast all day with a few sprinkles occurring in the afternoon. The cloud cover finally started to clear out to the east around 6:00 p.m. The weather forecast for the weekend is sunny days with temperatures in the mid-70’s, so no complaints from these two happy campers.
We decided to visit the Oasis Visitor Center today. It is located on the north side of US-41, three miles west of our campsite at the Midway Campground, in the Big Cypress National Preserve. There is a water canal that runs parallel to and on the north side of US-41 throughout the Big Cypress National Preserve. Within the visitor center boundaries, the canal is approximately 20 feet wide by a football field long by 5 feet deep.
The visitor center has an abundance of wild alligators, Florida garfish and other species of fish as well as Anhinga water birds. A boardwalk, approximately 50 yards in length, runs parallel to the canal providing a safe and close-up viewing area for the visitors. A park ranger provides very informative on-site lectures on the wildlife that inhabit this area. He explained the large volume of water, accessible open banks and abundant food sources, attracts a large gathering of alligators and water birds to the visitor center area. In our travels throughout southern Florida we have never seen so many alligators gathered together in one area as they are at this location.
The alligators vary in size from 3 feet to 6 feet in length. Most of them are just casually lying on the bank of the canal while a few are gently gliding through the seemingly still water in the canal. It is mesmerizing to observe an alligator swimming through the water. Their muscular tail slowly undulating back and forth provides the thrust to propel their body silently through the water. Their front and rear legs are tucked in against their body, pointing backwards toward their tail. These leg positions seem to provide them with a multiple rudder type arrangement, which allows them to easily change direction.
The visitor center provides an informative 25-minute film on the ecosystem of southern Florida. This film is a thought provoking visual essay on the important responsibility mankind has to protect our environment and our natural resources not only here in Florida, but throughout the world.
Following our visit to the Oasis Visitor Center, our next stop was to the Big Cypress Swamp Visitor Center, located 17 miles further west on US-41. We were pleased to discover we received a very strong cell phone signal on our T-Mobile Smartphone at this location. We do not have cellular reception at our campground, so we will use this location to access the Internet on our laptop computer through our smartphone.
We arrived back at our campsite in the late afternoon just in time to settle in for the day to view our favorite soap, General Hospital, on the West Coast feed we receive on our Dish satellite service.
Tomorrow another adventure begins.