vineri, 22 aprilie 2011

Pa-hay-okee @ The Dragon

Hello again,
Pa-hay-okee, Laguna del Espíritu Santo, River Glades, Ever Glades, Everglades

This is what I dreamed of visiting when first planning the conference trip. Click on the link above and wikipedia will tell you a lot about this outstanding wetland. It is a slow-moving 97 km wide and over 160 km long river, flowing southward across a limestone shelf to Florida bay. The Everglades are shaped by water and fire, home of thousands of species and, if you are lucky to come in a season when there is no flooding nor fire, is the place where to take amazing pictures and enjoy peaceful relaxation in undisturbed nature.

I planned this very carefully by selecting a extreme South Miami motel in order to easy reach the place early in the morning. I knew I was going to experience the jetlag. 
The fact that, in the day before, I traveled 20 hours (and no sleep) with the planes, then it took me a lifetime to get out of Miami airport, reach the car rental and then to struggle across the huge Miami area alongside with the entire commuting community of South Miami, helped me in getting to bed very early and waking up at 5:30 AM.  I was ready. Fast packing my photo gear, short jeans, sport shoes, T-shirt, a 10 min "healthy" American breakfast, coffee to go and I was ready. 
The sun was trying to wake up. 

This pictures were taken in the parking lot of Ramada Motel, Homestead, Miami, crossroads of South Dixie Highway 1 and the Everglades National Park Road

98% of the roads in US are straight long, long, long, long lines. This was no exception. At first turn I found out that Robert was there and - picture this - healthy food actually exists in America. Across the road they were watering the field very, very early in the morning. Americans are hardworking. I definitely knew this.

Second turn was the alligator farm but will come back later to this. Then was no third turn left but I had to stop. The sun was coming out. Bad planning, no time to install the tripod. I just played with whatever silhouettes I could use against the rising sun, took out my 100-400 lens, increased ISO and shoot from my hand. Not bad for low light conditions and a 3 kg photo gear.

20 km after the sun was already 2 meters up from the horizon. Passed the park entrance, paid my 10 bucks for a weekly pass and reach the first visitor center. The place, the light, the early morning mist, the wet of the night, the birds still sleeping, everything was a photographic dream. I had to find my way in high wet grass, trash my cloths and shoes before the day to actually start, been beaten by 500 mosquitoes but I had to shoot this:

Next stop: Royal Palm.
In the parking next to the visitors center (of course there is a parking, this is America, right?) some funny looking cool standing birds were trashing some dude's car. Later on I met him and found out he was a bird photographer. How ironic is that? 

Anyway there is nothing much to tell about the place, no more than the pictures below.

I drove 60 km stopping whenever I felt like having a good spot, watching birds enjoying sun and, most of all, the blissful nature sounds. 

I ended up in Flamingo Bay, a tourist campground and a marina. And yes this is the place you should have guessed in the Contest. We had only one participant who said this was done " In America of course" which was close enough so he is the lucky winner :) (for some reason I can't grasp less than 1% of this blog unique visitors convert into comments).

I sat there for 15 minutes, looking into Florida Bay, enjoying the fly of the pelicans and the absence of the thoughts in my mind. I tried to do my meditation there but some crows behind me were hungry therefore noisy so I moved on. I considered taking a boat trip in Florida Bay but was only for later so I got in my ugly but inexpensive basic car to return to city. But not long after leaving Flamingo I found this side road and explored it a bit. This is what I have found.

Of course the road through the park is the same long, long, long line and I was a bit tired so I speed-ed up. A young, wise good looking policeman stopped me for speeding obviously but I practiced my proverbial cop charming and I got up only with a warning. I guess the fact that he needed 15 min to spell my data from the driving license contributed to that.

On the way back I turned to Aligator Farm, paid 22 USD to visit it (airboat tour included). "Home grown alligators" were not interesting after seeing the wild living ones. Airboat was short, muddy, exciting but enough noisy to realize that everything I enjoyed before is spoiled by this mechanical monsters. They should ban them in Everglades. Even though is main revenue generator for the remaining Seminoles native Indians populating the park.

That was for today, long post. Thank you all making it until this point. Stay tuned tomorrow for some amazing ocean colors and sun burning canoe trails.

See you later, alligator!

Niciun comentariu: