We had the Everglades to ourselves this weekend. The annual Changing of the Guard -when the mosquitoes come and the tourists go- had a gap.
Grabbing the best camp site (by the lake) was a cinch.
The morning sun peeked through pines accompanied by cardinals, crows, and whip-o-wills.
They say there are also 10,000 Burmese Pythons hidden in the brush but they left us alone. You can be a few feet away from these huge, hungry reptiles and never know it.
Ten hours earlier we had seen the full moon rise. A spectacular, desolate setting just an hour from home.
There's even poetry in the park now. The resident artists program has produced a few works that are posted on park trails.
Our friend, Superintendent Dan Kimball, told us, "We've got it all over now. We love it!".
After reading this one about bard owls and panthers, we walked by the lake and saw wide cat tracks leading to the water.
Later,a nature book told us they probably belonged to a large, thirsty dog. Panthers tracks do not have claw indentations and besides,
the only land animals left are the mega-snakes.
They are there because hundreds of snake owners took their too-big pets to the 'Glades and said, "Be free!". The River of Grass, being reptile heaven, allowed them to multiply like crazy.
A 2011 survey found the pesky critters have reduced the population of the Everglades' rabbits, rats, raccoons, and deer by 98%.
When that happens, park officials pray they will begin eating each other.