Tag Archives: National Parks

The Conclusion of an Evening Adventure

The Beautiful Night Sky

We continued to descend as quickly as possible but that was slow going at the best because each step had to be felt before placing your full weight on your next step. A fork in the trail arrived and while I was pretty certain which direction to go, I did not want to end up making a very costly error so out came the lighter. Most of the time you would think of a lighter as a source for light because there is so little there. In complete darkness a lighter can blind you for a minute or two. After a little light near the sign indicating which way to go a little feeling of calmness fell over me and now time to continue on. Unfortunately it took another minute to go as my eyes needed to re-adjust to the darkness. Moving slower once again we came to a staircase built out of rocks. I recalled this part of the trail and knew that Karen should be at the bottom waiting – this is if she was still brave enough to be sitting in the dark forest. I was anticipating that she moved on to the car. There was just one problem, I had the only set of keys. What I believed to be the bottom of the stairs was approaching but I could not make out a bench and there certainly was no sign of Karen. I stopped and tried to get my baring’s but the feeling of being lost was creeping in. I could not find the direction of the trail and where to go next. Finally I decided that the best direction was to continue in the same direction we were already going.

An Airplane Streaking Across the Sky

Moving extremely slowly we I found more stairs to descend and in a short time the place we left Karen was in front of us. Still no sign of Karen though. I was pretty sure that she had returned to the vehicle. Maybe it was more hope that she had gone back. Only one way to find out – continue on. The trail was relatively flat at this point with few stones to trip over allowing us to move faster. FINALLY! THERE IT IS THE PARKING LOT! There may have been more whoops of joy if it were not for the welcoming words of Karen. O.K. so they were not as welcoming as scornful. The ensuing conversation does not need to be repeated here but I was still extremely glad to see her standing by the car.

Finding the Parking Lot

Kristy and Lysa have agreed on a new hiking rule since this – no hiking within 45 minutes of darkness. I believe we just need to bring flashlights next time. A good night hike can be a great experience. The next day the girls thought we should go back to bubble rock so mom could see it. What they didn’t realize is that mom had no interest what so ever to go back to that location after the less than positive experience the previous night. I believe this was a great learning experience for all of us and created an adventure we’ll never forget.

Where Everbody Knows Your Name…

Cheers on Beacon StreetWe arrived in Boston after a short delay in our flight and hit the ground running… I mean walking. Our goal was to get information about the Freedom Trail which is part of the National Park System and possibly see some of the sites on that trail. After quickly finding something to eat we were off and managed to visit a few sites including where the Boston Massacre happened and the oldest graveyard in Boston which opened in 1630. I was amazed at the detail engraved into headstones over 300 years ago.

These sites were closing down for the day so it was on to one of the other landmarks that was on our list:  Cheers. Or at least the bar that the TV show Cheers was modeled after. Fortunately this was within a few blocks of where we parked the car so there really was not a lot of walking involved. Obviously this is still quite a popular attraction as there were trolley loads of people coming to take their pictures by the Cheers sign. The original Bull & Finch Pub that was the model for the set used in the Cheers series is still downstairs however a replica set has been added along with a giftstore to where “Melvilles” would have been. It was great to see this in person after watching it in a number of Cheers episodes. I would never guessed it would be in the location it is with a lot of residential buildings and parks around it.

Off to explore more of the Freedom Trail…..

Adding Biscayn N.P.

 
Boca Chita Key with Miami in the distance

While I’m sure we could spend many days exploring the Everglades National Park, we have chosen to visit nearby Biscayne National Park as part of our excursion to Southern Florida.  This destination is not on our National Parks edition of Monopoly but is a place we highly look forward to experiencing.  It is common for us to add non-board destinations to our trips which help both in tiring us out and packing more experiences into each trip. We have planned for one full day at Biscayne National Park so I hope the weather is nice.  This is not enough time to do all that we would like to do I’m sure but does give us a taste of this park which is the intention of our visits to all of the National Parks on our board.  

 

Most of Biscayne N.P. is underwater (95%) which is one of the features that really draws us to it.  Snorkeling is a favorite activity whenever we are in tropical waters with reefs.  Kristy is anxious to travel to Southern Florida as this will be her first attempt at snorkeling.  This will be Lysa’s second time snorkeling.  Her first experience was in Cozumel, Mexico three years ago. I am excited to take them and let them experience life on a reef.  They have both looked over pictures of reefs and fish and we have a small saltwater aquarium with corals and fish but to be able to see everything going on at a natural reef is so much more mesmerizing.  Fortunately by watching how different animals work together in our aquarium, Kristy and Lysa will have the opportunity to notice many things that can be missed when snorkeling such as how the cleanup crew (snails, crabs, shrimp, and sea stars) scavenge around the reef and interact with the fish.  Watching all of this will make the day go by exceptionally fast!  

Our home reef away from the reef

 

While snorkeling appears to be a great way to explore Biscayne National Park, there are other activities that highlight the diversity of this park.  There are hiking trails, the Dante Fascell Visitor Center at Convoy Point, boating, fishing, and a lot of history according to the National Park Service website.  The beginning of the Florida Keys is considered by many to be in Biscayne N.P. – Elliot Key.  Since we won’t have a boat to freely move about the reefs and keys, we need to plan ahead to use the park vendor for boating excursions in order to be able to experience this area and see what we can.  I would like to see the lighthouse on Boca Chita Key and Stiltsville in Biscayne Bay along with snorkeling.  Kristy and Lysa enjoy becoming Junior Rangers at all of the national parks that we visit so this will be a priority at Biscayne National Park as well.  

Motivation and Anticipation!

 

Camping is allowed on Elliot Key and Boca Chita Key which would be a great way for us to really enjoy and explore this wondrous area.  Unfortunately, we are limited by our arrival to Miami late the day before and have commitments early the day after.  I would love to watch the sun set and rise again from a key while star gazing and surveying the nighttime Miami skyline.  These are some of the things we may have to explore on another trip after completing our National Parks Monopoly Board.  

As I write this I am looking forward to this trip more and more.  Maybe it is time to stop writing about this national park and focus on the upcoming holidays.

Our Next Destination

The Great Egret Among Cypress Trees

Our next National Parks edition monopoly board property has been chosen and planned – Everglades National Park!     

We are planning on spending only two days there which is going to be enough time to start to experience all that this park has to offer.  Our intentions on these trips are only to get an introduction to these parks and experience many different areas of the United States.  Once Lysa and Kristy are older, they can return to whichever locations they may want to explore further and do the activities that interest them.  For now, our family will explore some parts of the Everglades to get a general idea of the intricacies of that park.    

Some interesting information about Everglades National Park:    

  • It is the 3rd largest national park in the lower 48 states with 1.5 million acres
  • Created in 1947 when President Harry S. Truman dedicated the original 460,000 acres
  • This is a sub-tropical environment with a distinct dry season (December – April) and wet season (May – November)
  • Wildlife include the American Alligator, American crocodile, indigo snake, Florida panther, West Indian manatee, many different birds depending on the season, freshwater and saltwater fish, along with many different amphibians
  • Known as the “river of grass” and has the largest continuous stand of sawgrass prairie in North America

    Sawgrass

 Exploring the everglades    

There are a number of different ways in which to explore this vast area.  Driving, hiking, biking, canoeing, fishing, or boating all are options that can give different experiences and perspectives to the diversity of life in Everglades National Park.  For the diehard adventurist there is the option to camp overnight.  We have chosen to enjoy the comforts of environmental controls typically associated with a hotel.  Hiking, driving, canoeing, and boating are the modes of transportation that we are researching currently.     

Once arriving at Everglades National Park we will find out what ranger programs are available and begin to plan our two days according to which programs are of interest to us.  I always enjoy these ranger programs and gain some great information.  Being able to identify some of the flora and fauna or knowing some of the planning and history can really increase the enjoyment while we are out exploring the park on our own.     

There appears to be other tours available such as tram trips, boat tours, bird watching trips, canoe trips, and fishing trips.  These all would give different aspects to the wilderness of the everglades but due to our limited time we can only participate in a few activities.  How do we determine which actives will provide the best experiences for us?  We have to prioritize what we want to do and see the most.

Florida Bay

 

Once we get a list of the ranger programs we can determine which of those we want to attend and we know that Lysa and Kristy want to get their Junior Ranger badges.  Visiting the Everglades without riding on an airboat doesn’t seem like a complete visit so that is something we want to schedule in.  We will take some time to drive through as much of the park as we can to see how the scenery changes as Everglades change from the saltwater of the ocean to the freshwater rivers and streams that flow through the park.  While driving around we will likely stop in a number of locations to enjoy some hiking at a number of different trails.  If there is time, canoeing would be a great addition to the experience for a couple of reasons.  First, Lysa and Kristy have never really been in a canoe before. Secondly, much of Everglades National Park is based around water so seeing the park from this perspective can enhance our adventure.    

We have much more planned with our trip to southern Florida which I will write about in a later post.  For now, we are excited and looking forward to exploring Everglades National Park and including this location on our monopoly board!