February 2 – 15, 2015 – Settling in to Naples (and doing very little) – Gulf Sunset – Valentine’s Day Dinner-Dance – Shark River (Everglades National Park)

For the better part of our first two weeks in Naples we have awakened to generally cooler than normal temperatures, some days in the low 40s.  Fortunately, once the sun clears the palm trees,
DSC_0005the air has warmed up relatively quickly. However, steady winds out of the northwest have made daytime temperatures feel like only the mid-60s to low-70s!

At this point, I am certain our family and friends “up north” are far less than sympathetic with our plight!

Debbie has found a Jazzercise location and is also into aquatic-Zumba several days a week. I am playing golf and even have gotten back to swimming some days.

We did get our motorhome and Jeep cleaned … professionally, and the Jeep looks better than when we purchased it!.

RV Cleaning Jeep
These activities have been punctuated by Margareta Mondays (free drinks and Nachos), Trivia and Dancing on Wednesdays, Meet-and-Greet (free wine, beer and hors d’ouvres) and Dancing on Friday evenings, not to mention several last minute pot luck dinners and last Saturday’s annual Valentine’s Day Dance … this year the 50th anniversary of our engagement.

2015-02-14 - Dick and Debbie, Valentines Day Dance, Naples Motorcoach Resort, Naples, FLLast week, we were invited to Pelican Bay where one of Debbie’s best friends owns a condo. After an on-site tram ride to a restaurant on the beach,
Pelican Bay Oceanside Restaurant, Naples,FL - 2015-02-09we had a great meal and enjoyed a golden sunset.

Sunset (b), Pelican Bay Oceanside Restaurant, Naples,FL - 2015-02-09 Sunset (g), Pelican Bay Oceanside Restaurant, Naples,FL - 2015-02-09 Sandpiper Silhouette (b), Pelican Bay Oceanside Restaurant, Naples,FL - 2015-02-09Yesterday, we traveled to Shark Valley which is in the heart of the “True Everglades,” or river of grass,
Everglades Landscape (b), Evergaldes National Park - Dade County, FL - 2015-02-15 Everglades Landscape (a), Evergaldes National Park - Dade County, FL - 2015-02-15that stretches 100 miles from Lake Okeechobee to the Gulf of Mexico. Wildlife abounds here where animals share a freshwater ecosystem of sawgrass marsh and tree islands.

From the Visitor’s Center, a paved bike path
Shark River Bike Path, Evergaldes National Park - Dade County, FL - 2015-02-15
extends seven miles into the heart of the Everglades. To its immediate west, lies a dense black mangrove area and “river” which provide the main attractions of the area.

Literally hundreds of alligators, ranging from babies up to more than 12’ in length

Alligator Floating Among Lily Pads, Evergaldes National Park - Dade County, FL - 2015-02-15 Alligator Snout, Evergaldes National Park - Dade County, FL - 2015-02-15Alligator Baby, Shark Valley (Everglades), FL - 2012-02-20
Soft-shelled and Red-bellied Turtles

Soft-shelled Turtle, Evergaldes National Park - Dade County, FL - 2015-02-15 Florida Red-bellied Turtle (b), Evergaldes National Park - Dade County, FL - 2015-02-15

While turtles are a favorite food for alligators, they seem to know when the gators are simply warming themselves (daytimes)and when their on the hunt for food (generally at night)

While turtles are a favorite food for alligators, they seem to know when the gators are simply warming themselves (day time) and when their on the hunt for food (generally at night)

Water Moccasins
Water Moccasin, Evergaldes National Park - Dade County, FL - 2015-02-15Ibis
Ibis (b), Evergaldes National Park - Dade County, FL - 2015-02-15 Ibis (a), Evergaldes National Park - Dade County, FL - 2015-02-15Turkey Vultures
Turkey Vulture, Evergaldes National Park - Dade County, FL - 2015-02-15Purple Gallinule
Purple Gallinule, Evergaldes National Park - Dade County, FL - 2015-02-15Great Blue Heron

Great Blue Heron (a), Evergaldes National Park - Dade County, FL - 2015-02-15 Great Blue Heron Head, Evergaldes National Park - Dade County, FL - 2015-02-15Little Blue Heron

Little Blue Heron, Evergaldes National Park - Dade County, FL - 2015-02-15Great Egret

Great White Egret (b), Evergaldes National Park - Dade County, FL - 2015-02-15 Great White Egret Head, Evergaldes National Park - Dade County, FL - 2015-02-15Green Heron
Green Heron (a), Evergaldes National Park - Dade County, FL - 2015-02-15Snowy Egret

Snowy Egret #2, Shark Valley (Everglades), FL - 2012-02-20Yellow Foot

Yellow-feet (a), Evergaldes National Park - Dade County, FL - 2015-02-15Everglades Peacock Butterfly
Everglades Peacock Butterfly, Evergaldes National Park - Dade County, FL - 2015-02-15Bee collecting pollen from a Thistle
Bee on Thistle, Evergaldes National Park - Dade County, FL - 2015-02-15Poisonwood

As the name indicates, contact with poisonwood causes many people to break out in a severe rash … similar to the effect of coming in contact with poison ivy.  Even rain water dripping off the leaves irritates sensitive skin.  Birds eat the berries without ill effects.  Poisonwood is recognizable by its three to seven drooping leaflets with black spots and yellow midribs.

As the name indicates, contact with poisonwood causes many people to break out in a severe rash … similar to the effect of coming in contact with poison ivy. Even rain water dripping off the leaves irritates sensitive skin. Birds eat the berries without ill effects. Poisonwood is recognizable by its three to seven drooping leaflets with black spots and yellow midribs.

Anhinga

Typical pose, drying their feathers

Typical pose, drying their feathers

Juvenile nestling

Juvenile nestling

And, including one which had captures a fish much too large to swallow.

Anhinga with Fish it just Caught (a), Evergaldes National Park - Dade County, FL - 2015-02-15 Anhinga with Fish it just Caught (b), Evergaldes National Park - Dade County, FL - 2015-02-15 Anhinga with Fish it just Caught (c), Evergaldes National Park - Dade County, FL - 2015-02-15 Anhinga with Fish it just Caught (e), Evergaldes National Park - Dade County, FL - 2015-02-15 Anhinga with Fish it just Caught (d), Evergaldes National Park - Dade County, FL - 2015-02-15 Anhinga with Fish it just Caught (f), Evergaldes National Park - Dade County, FL - 2015-02-15 Anhinga with Fish it just Caught (g), Evergaldes National Park - Dade County, FL - 2015-02-15 Anhinga with Fish it just Caught (h), Evergaldes National Park - Dade County, FL - 2015-02-15 Anhinga with Fish it just Caught (i), Evergaldes National Park - Dade County, FL - 2015-02-15 Anhinga with Fish it just Caught (j), Evergaldes National Park - Dade County, FL - 2015-02-15 Anhinga with Fish it just Caught (k), Evergaldes National Park - Dade County, FL - 2015-02-15 Anhinga with Fish it just Caught (l), Evergaldes National Park - Dade County, FL - 2015-02-15We’ll likely make at least one more trip back this winter as we never tire of watching nature!

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