Joel’s Journal - Entry #165 - 4/13/2017
The engine roared into life, pushing the nose of the boat into the air as we gathered momentum and began to soar across the water.
The Florida everglades sped past us, the world at the edges of my vision becoming nothing but a blur as the roar of the fan filled my ears. I stared straight ahead. The deep brown river stretched to the horizon where it met a wall of reeds. Along the way, walls of grass and reeds cut and divided the river into columns and pathways, creating almost a patchwork of roadways.
Listing to the side, the boat angled across the water, tilting left and right, the movement more akin to the cruising of an airliner approaching the runway than a boat sailing across the water. I guess that’s what you get when you strap jetliner engine to a boat.
The southern Florida drawl of Captain Lawrence fills my ears as he explains that this is the largest river in Florida, covering thousands of acres. We push out into an open patch of water heading straight for a dried and gnarled tree standing at attention in the centre.
When we get close, the engine cuts and the nose drops.
Atop the pole sits a bundle of sticks, looking as if they could fall apart at the slightest breeze. Although I know they won’t, because I know exactly what I’m looking at before Captain Lawrence speaks the words in my headset.
We have Osprey in Ontario, I’ve even seen a couple before while hiking. However, I’ve never been this close to one, and I’ve never seen a baby.
The large female stares down her beak at us from her perch, the young one’s head pops over the edge and joins her gaze.
I’m in awe. M squeezes my arm beside me as if she can feel my excitement. We’re only five minutes in to this air boat trip and I’m already amazed. We circled the nest, the boat’s engine revving occasionally to keep us on track. My shutter clicked constantly.
When we moved on, we could have driven back to shore and I would have happily handed over the $45 for the trip and gone home.
We didn’t though, and I’m glad.
Alligators. Ibis. Cattle Egrets. Great Egrets and the American purple gallinule (one of the most colourful birds in the everglades), we saw it all. We also drifted slowly by a Great Blue Heron who watched us with slight curiosity. It’s rare to get up close with these birds, the last time I did was during men’s week up on the Trent River and I came within about 15 feet of it before it flew off. This time, it was standing just in the reeds on the other side of the boat.
Along with the Cardinal, they are one of my favorite birds, and are absolutely stunning up close.
The trip was amazing, and if you’re ever in Florida around Vero Beach, Florida Crackers are your best bet for a solid ride.
I’ve got to run now, M and I have to pack up the car before heading off.
Sadly, it’s our last day in Florida, but thankfully, we still have the weekend to spend in South Carolina.
So, the vacation isn’t over yet!
Until next time, keep doing what you love and doing it well.
And thanks for reading.