out hiking with the boys...

today we went for a hike...
not the standard hike with my black dog brutus in the woods of rock creek park
no... a hike just north of the Everglades while on vacation in Florida

the boys love it... there is some dispute before during and after
this is another "father knows best" moment
begrudgingly it all unfolds
no kicking... no screaming... but the kids are less than energized by my plan

no whining or crying
the tone is not entirely enthusiastic
the boys would rather stay at grandma and grandpas condo and watch Sponge Bob
that is not an option

we have done this hike before
this short hike is part of the mandatory activities on our Florida trip each year
at just over three miles it is not exactly easy for these little people with their short legs
we take the loop in such a fashion that the alligators and their home mark the last mile before returning the car
food is in my pack along with my camera and plenty of water
or on this day... Gatorade... the boys love Gatorade!
Gatorade and two types of trail mix

the hike involves an ecosystem very different than the trails near home
the tropical climate surrounds us with plant life unlike we see in our day to day life
I am not capable of listing the bushes and trees.... but think something similar but different than palm trees and something similar to spanish moss
and of course along with the tropical plants come tropical animals
there are a wide variety of birds, insects, snakes, lizards, and alligators
it is really a whole lot of fun for the whole family

birds of prey circle overhead

my guess is that they are turkey vultures
the boys stop for crickets and beetles
as much as I enjoy their enthusiasm I know that if they stop for every cricket and beetle we would never complete this short loop

so after some time huddled around a cricket I usher them forward

highlights of the hike involve my catching a small anole
I caught the little lizard without much effort
then I passed the little critter from hand to hand
the little dinosaur looking creature bit Dean
it was painless to him... but gave him a little shock
he was a little trooper

not a bit of panic

a black snake of one variety of another was an exciting site to see
I was not so lucky or so cool as to catch this legless reptile
the effort was made
but I did not even come close

the alligator family that live in a small body of water on the trail side is always the most exciting part of the hike
alligators are usually seen in the zoo or on television
seeing these guys in their natural habitat is a rush

the boys were total troopers
no... they would not indulge me in every photo opportunity request

yet I managed to snap a few shots
when Dean held the little lizard it locked its jaws on his thumb
he was shocked but did not panic
he remained calm
everyone got a chance to hold this poor little lizard who we released with the same gentle grip that I caught him with
teaching the lessons of catch and release

we met a few people on the trail

including a fly fisherman named Mark along with his dog named Eddie and an older couple from Naples
we walked and chatted with the older couple but I told the boys that we needed to march ahead for fear that the other hikers would spook any wild life that we wanted to experience
sure enough... just as Dean and I approached a black snake the sound of the other hikers sent this legless creature slithering along its way

the three mile hike was completed with only a few meters of Grant being carried
even seven year old Dean took a turn carrying this muscly little man

I learned that there is another trail on the other side of the street just south a few miles more down the Tamiami Trail towards the Everglades
but I fear that this six mile trail may be more than my boys can handle
even if we were to devote a day to the hike
perhaps I will scope it out alone for future trips to Florida

we arrived back at the Grandparents for a late lunch
the short drive home was made longer as I chased down every garage sale sign thinking that lisa could find a tennis racket and I could find a bicycle
no such luck
there was a bike... but this junker was a five dollar piece of crap that was not worth a buck that the owner was asking forty bucks for

after our late lunch we took to the beach
the beach and then the pool

I grilled fajitas for the family
everyone is asleep
I should be asleep as well

not bad for the morning of day two of a week long vacation

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