I put my company credit card to use and stayed overnight in Sunrise, FL at a La Quinta hotel. Apparently "La Quinta" is Spanish for The Quinta. It may mean villa, but their website says it means "accommodating". And for an over-priced, glorified Motel 6 hotel chain, I suppose they are. They were accommodating when I asked to move rooms from the one directly next to the elevator, which even at 11 pm was routinely, if not unrhytmically squealing up and down as I tried to sleep. They were also accommodating when I politely suggested they might want to take care of the roaches. They comped the $130 (corporate rate!) room charge. If I had paid the normal rate I wonder if I would have received a room without a moldy shower curtain or moldy tile?
The tour we do on the east coast shares similarities with the west coast tours, but my favorite difference has to do with the friendliness of the natives. While Purple Gallinules can be found on the airboat ride out west, they tend to be shy and are hard to see, but on the Miccasukee Reservation where I took the ride today, this one (my favorite bird here) came right up. They have iridescent purple, green and blue feathers and huge feet for walking in the marsh. The airboat ride
takes you out to a hammock or island in the middle of the river of grass where a Miccasuke elder sells handicrafts and Pepsi.The reservation is along Tamiami Trail (US-41) that cuts across the Everglades. Further out we stopped at the old Jetport, where in the 60's, the plan was to relocate Miami International (To the middle of the Everglades!). Now it's a mostly desolate "transfer station", but a good place to stop and look for gators and frogs. These two Green Treefrogs were tucked up under a palm frond. It's not easy finding frogs, or any amphibians for that matter. The phosphates, nitrates and pesticides that are dumped into the Everglades have had a serious impact on the populations of most frogs, whose semi-permeable skin absorbs toxins and causes all manner of reproductive issues.
We stopped in at Clyde Butcher's photography studio. I think of him as the Ansel Adams of the Everglades. He does a great deal of black-and-white photography of the area. Here's my best imitation for the day. (not the best i can do....)We also spotted a Florida Water Snake here. Non-venomous.
The day concluded with a boat ride into the Everglades National Park and the 10,000 islands where we had the luxury of watching Atlantic Bottlenose Dolphins, ahem, make more dolphins. This video I made shows two males and a female roiling about around the boat. Apparently there is no breeding season and they do this as much for enjoyment as they do to repopulate the species.