We finally took Connor to Shark Valley last weekend! Not to be confused with Alligator Alley, though we did do that last weekend as well to celebrate Colton's first birthday. My family has been taking trips to this unique location for as long as I can remember. We would either pick MLK weekend or Presidents' Day weekend to make the trek, because it was still "cool" outside, and it made for a special memory. I remember when I was so little that they would tie a rope to my bike and to either mom or dad's bike to help me make the entire trip. When you are talking about a 14 mile trip bike ride into the everglades, you must have good hydration, great company, and a camera.
Here is the gang at the beginning of our trip, before we were exhausted, before the sunburns (for some), and before naptime! Let's be honest, I think I was the only one exhausted by the end, and wanting the nap (and a shower). I think Aunt Kaitlyn would have gone another few miles, she was in the lead at the end for a while.
Here is a Mama gator with her babies. Papa, may or may not have wanted to catch one to show Connor up close, but we were very careful not to "molest" the alligators.
Typically when we are traveling along the road the gators stay on the side blissfully bathing in the sun. On the trip however we encountered quite a few alligators that were up and walking around. WOAH! The reason this bike trip is relatively safe is because alligators don't eat very much in the winter months. They are usually very dormant and lethargic. Maybe it's the rain we've been having, but these gators were active. When we came up to this one he just got up and started walking to the middle of the pathway. Can you say roadblock? I love Tim's face when it started walking towards them. It just decided to lay down and take up some space. We let him have it. Connor still remembers this gator. He kept his ipod with him during the ride, and would insist on taking pictures of the different alligators as we came upon them. It was adorable! This alligator on the other hand wasn't so much.
At the end of the 7 mile ride into the everglades is a nice little tower to walk up and witness a panoramic view of the river of grass. There are always a bunch of gators hanging out down here. This is also were we rest and picnic. There is a way to loop around the valley, but the other half of the ride isn't as exciting so we always take the same 7 mile path back. Typically not stopping to take as many pictures because really at this point all you can think of is a little bit of air conditioning and an ice cold diet coke! Connor loved it! He had a great seat up high on the back of Daddy's bike and thought it was hysterical to lean from side to side to try and throw off Daddy's balance.
It was such a nice family activity, and simple enough that I know we can now include this in our list of fun activities to do on special weekends. I'm glad my parents did it with me, and I know Connor will have fond memories of it when he is older.