Both girls enjoy a nice ride on a boat tour, so it was an easy decision to book the Backcountry Tour of Whitewater Bay in Everglades National Park. Boarding the boat was on a first come first board basis, so we were at the end of the line since we couldn't be as fast as everyone else when the boat pulled up to the dock. I was watching the boat fill up and we were going to be stuck at the front of the boat with little room for the wheelchair and in the direct sunlight, which is a trigger for Kellisa's seizures. The boat tour was almost 2 hours and I knew Kellisa would have a seizure. I was thinking about backing off the boat to see if we could reschedule for the next tour when people at the back of the boat offered to relocate for us. If we don't absolutely need this kind of random act of kindness, I will usually decline the offer, but I was quick to agree to the switch. I was even more appreciative when we were caught in a sudden thunderstorm during the tour. I think the heat and lack of wildlife viewing prevented Laurel from maximizing her enjoyment. However, her mood quickly changed when the captain asked her to steer the boat when we reached the open waters of Whitewater Bay.
After writing an article on wheelchairs and hotel safety for abilities.com, I was asked if I was interested in providing another article. I was excited at the additional opportunity and I proposed (and it was accepted) writing about a trip Kellisa and I took to Grand Island National Recreation Area in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan back in the summer of 2013. We spent three days and two nights on the island pushiking, backcountry camping and working on Kellisa's speech therapy. I also had a middle of the night encounter....
The full article with pictures can be found (here).
We hit the jackpot when we observed two american crocodiles in the wild when we went to hike the West Lake Trail. First we found the baby and then it didn't take long to find the momma standing guard. It's estimated that only 500-1,200 remain in the wild in south Florida.
As part of our Spring Break 2015 trip to South Florida, we spent our first night in Everglades National Park camping at the Flamingo Campground. This was Kellisa's 3rd visit to the park and Laurel's 2nd. We picked a walk-in site to get closer to the water and the cool breezes. We had front row seats as we viewed many large birds in their natural environment. It's amazing how quiet both girls can get when observing wildlife in the wild.
With our Spring Break 2015 trip to South Florida that included a quick stop at Biscayne National Park, Kellisa has now visited 21 National Parks and Laurel has visited 12. Biscayne is mostly a water park and best viewed by boat. For reasons I'm still not clear on, the concession boat was not operating the afternoon we visited, so we decided to hike the short nature trail on the mainland.
The nature trail was an out and back with a total distance of .84 of a mile. It started out with a nice boardwalk and ended with a sand and crushed seashell mixture. I was worried about getting a flat, but we ended up OK. Towards the end of the trail we found several nice little secluded areas to enjoy the water. It didn't look safe for swimming, but the girls enjoyed getting their feet and hands wet to cool off a little on a blistering March afternoon.
A quick look at the park map revealed an island with primitive camping...we will be back!