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posted by Bill Maksim alias Bill Maksim Photography on Tuesday 17th of February 2015 02:01:10 PM

The Florida Trip The next trip and set in my series is set in none other than sunny Florida. Me and Sam decided on a trip last February (2014) to see some of the things in Florida that generally get overlooked, including of course...National Parks. February also marked a pretty crappy time for me, I had a massive kidney stone I was battling for nearly two months. I had it in me the entire trip, lets just say drinking about a case of water a day while your stuck in a car all day while taking vicodin isn't exactly a fun way to start off a trip. We ended up driving to Florida, which in my opinion is one of the most boring drives you can go on in the entire country. We made it to Georgia after one day and did the rest of the haul down to St. Pete (near Tampa) the next day. Our first stop was to spend a few days on the beach near Clearwater, we ended up getting a hotel right on the beach. It was definetly a different experience than sleeping in my truck or a tent out west, but hey I wasn't complaining. We spent two or three days relaxing and catching some rays & waves. We even went to a Lightning game, two tix for 40 bucks... you can't beat that if your a hockey fan. After Sam got her part of the trip in, it was my turn. So of course we headed south for a pretty well known National Park, The Everglades! Now this was my first time going to the Everglades, I honestly had no idea what to think it'd be like, would there be tons of gators and swamps everywhere, boa constrictors? Monkeys? The cool thing we got to do since we were in the western part of the state, was we got to head through the Shark Valley area of the park, which from what I hear is pretty much overlooked when going to the Everglades. We saw more wildlife in the Shark Valley area of the park than we did the main area, so keep that in mind when visiting. After Shark Valley we called it a night just outside of Miami and decided to hit the main section of the park the next two days. Once arriving in the main section we stopped at Royal Palm visitor center and got to see some cool displays, we drove the entire park in one day from Royal to Flamingo and picked out some hikes we wanted to do the next day, along with doing a few that day as well. After two entire days in the park I felt like I did almost every hike the park had to offer, one thing you have to understand is the Everglades hiking trails are very short, its almost difficult to find one that is over 5 miles. Canoeing and kayaking might be better for those looking for something a little more long distance. A lot of people ask me what I thought about the park, in all honesty I really wasn't impressed in terms of anything. A lot of the vistor centers are looking run down, the board walks and trails could definetly use an upgrade. As for the wildlife, we only were able to see a handful of gators in the main park, and as for wintering birds there were barely any. Maybe it was just a bad week down there? I'd like to go down in the summer and see how it is one day. After 3 days in the park we headed out to spend a day or two around Miami. Our first stop was another National Park, probably one not a lot of people have heard of, Biscayne. Biscayne normally has sub contractors who rent out kayaks and canoes, upon arriving we found out that sub contractor backed out the day before, bummer. We still were able to go on a few boardwalks and see some of the crystal clear water and mangrove trees. Our last stop was sort of a whim decision, we headed through Miami and out onto an island to see the Cape Florida lighthouse, definetly worth the stop when your in Miami. Then the next day was another long drive back to Pittsburgh.



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