EVERGLADES NATIONAL PARK & MIAMI, FLORIDA

 Following our time in Dallas, we made a huge, 2 full day drive from Dallas, Texas, to Miami, Florida. On our way, we stayed overnight in Lee, Florida, after grabbing some awesome barbecue from The Shed, a BBQ place in Ocean Springs, Mississippi, which had been recommended by a great friend of ours. We had actually briefly driven by it last summer, but hadn’t had a chance to try the food. It was great! We arrived in Miami, Florida, in the early afternoon on Sunday, and immediately hit Everglades National Park. We took an airboat tour through Coopertown Air Boats, which took us on a tour through the Everglades. It was all of our first time on an airboat, and it was so much fun! On our trip, we saw three alligators in the wild, and learned a ton about the vegetation and animal life in the Everglades. So amazing! After the airboat tour, we attended an animal show, where we learned a ton more about the alligators, snakes, turtles, and other inhabitants of the park. After swinging by a software store on our way into Miami, we arrived at the Miami Everglades RV Resort, where we would spend the next couple of nights. Once we arrived, Justin spent a couple hours getting the RV networked and up and running for the start of school the next day, when the kids would begin to do distance-learning from the RV. We roasted some s’more’s over the fire before bed, and called it a day!

The next morning, we slept in a bit, knowing we would have the three hour time difference between the east, in Florida, and California, for the start of school. It was really nice to get some extra rest! The kids began school, and everything ran really seamlessly! I am so grateful to Justin for all of his hard work and making it happen for all of us. Since the kids only had a half day of school that Monday, we headed into Everglades again, immediately following their school day. We hit the Ernest P. Coe Visitor Center, and explored two hikes in the park. The first was the Anhinga trail, which took us on a raised boardwalk above the swamps. We got to see several hardwood hammocks, and spotted a few alligators on the journey, in addition to several large snapping turtles, heron, egrets, and lots of fish! The kids loved the hike! Then we hit the Gumbo Limbo Trail, which took us through some deeper vegetation, and gave us a little bit of a different perspective of the growth in the Everglades. All in all, such an awesome afternoon, even following a school day! After our hikes, we headed to the Robert Is Here Farmstand, for some highly recommended fresh fruit milkshakes (The key lime and strawberry was definitely the winner!)! They were incredible! We played some games as a family before bed, grateful for our adventures that day!


Day 1 in Everglades, getting ready to explore the park on our airboat tour...
Baby alligator!
Learning about all the animals in the Everglades...




Airboat tour!  The boat was WAY faster than I expected, and quite loud, and so fun!








Tons of airplants...
Alligators!













LOTS of birds in the Everglades!  We saw countless ibis, anhinga, egret and heron, to name a few.
Holding a baby gator!  CRAZY!






TONS of lizards and geckos around every corner...

A little downtime before bed. 



Playing the game "Werewolf, a new family favorite.
Hayden has raced his new RC Car every chance he can get!
Coffee and a beautiful morning in Miami...
Football before school, since the three hour time change meant we didn't start school until 11:15 Florida time!
Distance Learning on the road. We had to work through some kinks (Justin was incredible), but we made it happen.



Downtime with Quinn




HAD to take a photo with "Allie the Alligator" at the RV Park...
Everglades National Park, Day 2
Gorgeous drive into the park
Heading out to hike after hitting the visitor center...
Anhinga Trail.  We loved this boardwalk hike, and saw so much on our journey.







Alligator

TONS of snapping turtles!




More alligators!

More gorgeous birds...
Setting out to hike the Gumbo Limbo Trail...

"Robert Is Here" farmstand, a local must-visit in the Homestead area.  Their smoothies were INCREDIBLE, especially the Strawberry key-lime...


Getting ready for a night swim...

Shuffleboard with Quinn.  This was his FAVORITE, and we played usually at least a few times a day together during our stay.
Post-it note reminders on the RV doors by Grace.  I love her.
Hayden racing his RC car
Justin, working
TONS of time at the park together...
We loved the mini golf at the park, and played several times.  SO MUCH FUN.

Our last night before departing Miami for Key West, and the converter went out.  Justin was able to troubleshoot and did what he could, but we knew we had to get it fixed by a professional (he wasn't about to mess with the electrical and try to do it himself).  We ended up doing homework by lantern light that night since we had no lights.  It was a tad stressful, but now proves a good story for all.
Morning repair.  This shop was booking out a few months for appointments, but we pleaded with them and told them our story, and they agreed to help us.  AMAZINGLY, they were able to quickly determine that it was a problem with the converter, and they even had the part they needed to fix it in stock.  Justin and I felt like we won the lottery....
...because of the repair, the kids did an hour of school that morning from the repair shop.  J and I were HOWLING watching them and the questions from their teachers and classmates about their whereabouts were HILARIOUS.  I like to think that we are teaching them to be flexible learners.  LOL.


A memory for all time (though not funny at the time)...








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