Coopertown, (Population 8!), where we would tour the Everglades in an airboat!
Our light rain didn't last and again it was pouring. Oh well....after about 30 miles of mostly unpleasant stop and go traffic we arrived at Coopertown. There was a group of German tourists on Harleys there as well and a group of ladies and a family of three.
We met Lisa who works there and she generously agreed to hold our helmets in the back office. Thank you Lisa! Like me, she is a DFF and rider too. ;-)
We checked out the alligators in pens and the snakes and turtles!
Then it was time to board the airboat.
Yes, it was raining. We had a nice group of people on our boat and our guide was awesome!
Having never been to the Everglades before we didn't have any expectations. Even in the rain it was spectacular. Lots of birds and all kinds of weird flora. Our guide took us out the channel and then gave us a good ride with some big swoops and turns, hahahahaha, fun! It was a bit strange to be riding over grasses!
Then he took us down another channel and turned the boat to low idle as he searched for alligators in the wild. Score!!! There she is!!! Oooohhhhhh. So very cool. A bit later we saw a very small gator.
More Everglades awesomeness!
We were lucky in that the rain slowed down considerably for the most part of the tour but unfortunately as we headed back to the dock it really began to pour again. Everyone was soaked!
Tidbit of the day, alligators don't like rain. Because their skin is their sensor network for detecting movement in the water, (i.e prey), the rain on their skin is a sensory overload. For this reason they stay mostly submerged when it rains, holding their breath for up to 45 minutes in some cases and slowing their heart rates way down. This made for great pictures of snouts and eyes, LOL.
At the dock we had the opportunity to hold a 2 year old alligator. Yikes! Yes, I did! I was so surprised to find the gator was soft and warm not cold and slimy. Hahahaha, a first and last for me thank you :-)
Even though it was wet, wet, wet, I truly enjoyed our Everglades tour and glad we took the time to make it happen. Who knows if I'll ever get another opportunity to do that.
Still raining, we uncovered our bikes and mounted up. Heading west our goal was Fort Myers on the Gulf Coast. Fortunately it was only about 150 miles. We were on Highway 41, the Tamiami Trail, the two lane highway that connects Tampa and Miami. Alligator Alley is I-75 a bit north of the road we took.
It was fabulous (even in the pouring rain)! We rode through the Everglades and then the Big Cypress National Preserve followed by Ten Thousand Islands National Preserve. Beautiful scenery and very little traffic. Side note - we had several groups of motorcyclists pass us going east. They did NOT look happy, hahahaha. Even though it was wet, we were relatively comfortable and our bikes performed flawlessly. Good stuff - hey this is what makes it an adventure!
We stopped for gas and a late lunch in Naples. It was at lunch that we discovered we were WET. Our gear failed :-( Not miserably, but enough to be uncomfortable. Crap, Eric got wet feet and I ended up with one wet foot. Other bits and pieces were wet as well. I guess with that volume of water pounding us at 50-60 miles per hour, we were bound to get damp. We also found water in our panniers, a first! Cripes it was WET!!!
Oh well, back on the bikes, we headed to our hotel, the Red Roof Inn in N. Ft. Myers. What a pleasant surprise to find a lovely room with an even lovelier view of the Caloosahatchee River! Score!!
We dragged our wet gear and bags to the room and immediately disrobed and put on warm fuzzy cozy sweats (me) and dry shorts and shirt (Eric). We scattered our wet stuff around the room, cranked the heat and took all of our wet stuff to the guest laundry to dry.
LOL, every lamp was covered with something that needed to dry out. The heater was stacked with helmet, gloves, hats and bags. Eric shoved rags into his boots to help soak up some of the water. The hotel staff was helpful and gave us some rags to dry things off.
Once sorted, it was time for cocktails and discussion on where to go for dinner. Not too far for sure because guess what? Yep, it's raining again :-) I have no idea what the weather is forecast for tomorrow. Guess it doesn't really matter because regardless we will be heading north. Where? I dunno. We'll figure that out later. For now, it's cocktails and relax.
Hope you enjoyed our day as much as we did. Stay tuned to see what we do tomorrow!