gLiding over FloRida

The timing was perfect for our quick trip to Orlando last week! We got texts and pictures from home of rain and snow. Meantime, we experienced temperature shock as we stepped off the plane to 89 degrees! Doesn't take long to get used to that wonderfulness.

As is his tradition, once we were checked into our hotel, Scott went straight to the hotel's "tourist pamphlet" display and picked up an advertisement for airboat rides in the Everglades. Wait a sec. I thought the Everglades are way way south. (?) Come to find out, this place called Boggy Creek is at the northernmost point of the Everglades system and so, before I could say, "Real alligators," we were on our way to the Florida countryside. It was a short forty minute drive to go from mouse country to LakeTohopekaligo. (Short drive but worlds apart.)
Airboats are fast, loud, and fun. They skim the surface of the water powered by...not an airplane engine as I expected, but a Ford truck engine. The driver was friendly and knowledgeable and had a great twangy accent. 
I gave up trying to spot alligators within the first three minutes. Best thing to do is just sit back, relax, and enjoy the ride. 
The scenery is incredible. The sky, the water, the beautiful plants. As the lake reaches the horizon, the fluffy clouds come into view and take your breath away. 

            There were birds and ducks everywhere. We saw at least a dozen different types of birds. 

And HERE is our one and only alligator. The guide stopped the boat in the tall grass and gently floated with the current. Then he pointed and said, "There." Everyone saw it before me. It's right in the middle of the photo - a dark green spot that kind of looks like a tire. That's all we saw. No head, no eyes, no teeth. 
Although the alligator viewing was less than spectacular, the afternoon was amazing. As we drove, we saw cattle grazing in green fields - everywhere - and realized we were traveling through the boundaries of the LDS Florida ranch. We remembered a past trip when we toured the headquarters of the ranch. We tuned into the local country radio station and rolled down the windows to enjoy the warm, humid air. It was just one of those perfect days.