From my Wilderness Journal
FIRST TIME AT BIG CYPRESS NWR 1998 (Part One)
That magic weekend was rapidly approaching. Long awaited. Long verdue. I decided that the directions, as poor as they were, were better than nothing! My newest exploratory spot was to be Big Cypress National Wildlife Reserve in the Florida Everglades. I googled this place to get some stats on it, and maybe a map. I quickly found out that this Wildlife Management Area was 729,000 acres! That’s a hell of a lot of acreage by anyone’s standards. I was certainly impressed. My directions were to get on I-95 till I reached I-595. I was then to stay on this highway until I saw a sign that said “To Naples” and stay on it until I have to pay a toll. After that, it’s I-75. Alligator Alley all the way to Collier County! Approximately ½ hour later, I was to locate a blue Rest Stop sign, and get off at its entrance, and proceed to the Stop. I parked my car and went forth. Only the directions said to backtrack along the service road fence until I see a special one way opening door, along the fence line.
About a quarter mile later I found the entrance in. I was psyched with excitement and anticipation of what lay ahead. And that little adrenalin high when you made a discovery.
Now where’s my darn camera?
It is said “A journey begins with that first step”
I open the narrow spring loaded door and step inside. The door instantly snaps shut behind me. I gaze down a “road” that was cut from massive coral beds. It goes down a few hundred yards and then bends off to the left before disappearing in the foliage. I walk to the bend to see where it might lead. Just before getting to the bend, a family of armadillo crossed my path. They look like armor plated rodents with pig noses! They were actually quite cute critters. As soon as they heard the Velcro ripping sound as I tried to get at my camera to snap away, they made a sharp right and disappeared into the growth. Next, a Great Blue Heron, flying above a long canal parallel to the road, didn’t appreciate the disturbance in their neck of the woods either, starting making loud sounds. I mean this is a big bird with a wingspan of 6 feet! It seemed like it was warning all that a newcomer was present. Next, I see a white tail deer, a doe run off. You have to understand, this is a new place for me to explore. And I’ve only gotten to a bend in the road. And there is such abundant wildlife here. I think it will take years to really understand this beautiful area. It’s so worth it! The road goes on and on until it becomes just a blur with a canal on one side and the woods on the other.
Reminder to me: Get a GPS because nobody is gonna find me if I get lost!
My first impression of this new place…Holy Crap! It’s HUGE! I’m impressed.
OK, it took me an hour to get from my home to here…Real Wilderness. I found it and it’s mine!
Now the next trip (hopefully the following weekend), I’ll be back equipped for what lies ahead. This was a good first trip! At least I found the place! Hidden away from the masses of prying eyes, devoid of human sound. I might move here! Permanently! Lol
Bring a lot of bottled water or a hydration pack. The humidity was extremely high and you WILL sweat. A lot! Oh yeah, and a hell of a lot of mosquito spray. Trust me !
I can’t wait to come back here and really start exploring! It’s going to be a long week!