February 10 – 12 – Ave Maria and Corkscrew Swamp Preserve

Saturday we decided to take a drive to Ave Maria on the recommendation of some of the folks we’ve met here in Naples.  Ave Maria is a planned community conceived and developed (to the tune of several hundred million dollars to date) by Tom Monaghan, the founder of Domino’s Pizza, in partnership with Barton Collier Companies, legacies of southwest Florida’s founding family.

The community has been developed around a Catholic liberal arts university and boasts a Catholic church, single and multi-family housing, a golf course, a commercial business center and various medical and retail storefronts to support the community (which is truly in the middle of nowhere) which form an arc around a massive Catholic church.

After leaving Ave Maria, we checked the map and found that there was a nature preserve, Corkscrew Swamp Preserve, just 12 miles away.  As with other natural wonders we’ve visited, it gave us a chance to walk through (albeit on a raised boardwalk) view and photograph nature at its best …

Yellow Rat Snake

Turkey Vulture

Five Baby Alligators

Red-bellied Woodpecker

Yellow-crowned Night Heron

Ibis

Painted Bunting

Zebra Longwing Butterfly

Great Egret

Red-shoulder Hawk (enjoying "lunch")

Anhinga

Male Barred Owl

Gray Squirrel

Yellow Warbler

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker

Black-crowned Night Heron

a wide variety of leaves and flowers despite being before most plants begin to bloom,Bald Cypress before their leaves emerge,emerging Bromeliads (air plants),

and, when looking down from time to time reflections of the swamp.

Friday was another planned and successfully executed “down” day.  Debbie went to her Jazzercise class and, feeling guilty, I swam laps.  Friday afternoon, there is a weekly “Meet and Greet” get together, complete with complementary beer, wine, Mai Tai drinks and appetizers.  It’s a great place to meet fellow RVers staying at this campground.  Afterwards, there was music and dancing! Needless to say we were there until closing.

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