Too many people. Too much development. Too many cars. Too many traffic lights. Makes Pete angry! Want to SMASH! I've been practicing meditation while driving lately. I need to relax. A 9 mile drive to work takes nearly 30 minutes and there are over 36 lights on my way to pick up the eco-tour van. I try not to stress. I've even resorted to punishing myself for cursing. Ma-Le gets $1.00 for every really bad word I shout out. (If she hears it - she tunes out my rage!). There are nearly as many people in Lee County (565,000) where I live than all of Vermont (860,000). And the population increased 24% since 2000. Not good.
But the trade off includes beautiful beaches and amazing parks. Work today included scouting Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary for my trip on Saturday. We're taking bigwigs from the largest insurance company in the world and I need to make sure it goes smoothly. So it was walk the boardwalks as if I had a tour and see how the time goes. In the span of 1 hour and less than one mile of strolling down the Bald Cypress shaded boardwalks I spotted 6 baby Raccoons foraging in the swamp (I called them baby acoons when I was little).a juvenile Night Heron, 2 River Otters (one dove under the vegetations and spooked a flock of Ibis) and an American Bittern - doing what they do best, rocking back and forth like the plantlife to blend in. And for Mr. Charbonneau's delight, a nice 4 foot Yellow Rat Snake. Joe hates snakes. (This one didn't bite me).
This was my first day back at Corkscrew in almost three years (since the VINS Teen Eco-Trip in 2004) and I was disappointed to see so much development along the way. I'm not sure when it will stop. You'd think hurricanes and tornadoes would give people pause when they consider coming here. I'm grateful we have these places for wildlife but they're running out of room. The woodstorks are not nesting this year at the Sanctuary and that's a sign that food is not abundant enough to even think about raising chicks. Frustrating. Everyone that comes to Florida should be required to experience the beauty of this place. This is the real Florida. Sadly, it's disappearing and I wonder how many people that live here today have ever even seen it.
My sister Mandy thinks this stuff is depressing. She wants less sad and more happy. So here is a bonus picture of her crying (circa 1975). More for my amusement. And yes that is me in a blue leisure suit.