Solar Family Travel Journal Entry 6: "There was an alligator who wandered up on the path…"

There's nothing sadder than the last day of vacation... but we were determined to squeeze in as much fun as possible before we had to go to the airport. Even though we really wanted to have another beach day, we knew that flying on an airplane with sand in our hair and saltwater on our skin did not sound fun. We were still on Florida's west coast, so we had a bit of a trek to the airport in Ft. Lauderdale, but that also meant we had so many options for a last minute adventure!

A Sugar Stop
We were on the hunt for donuts since we had that on our bucket list and happened upon an adorable little donut shop called Peace, Love, & Little Donuts. They tasted amazing!! Every donut had the same cake donut base, but different frosting and toppings. They didn't have gluten free donuts, so Josh had to opt out and Ava wasn't in the mood for donuts, but the rest of us devoured ours. I have to tell you, I would totally go there again! Yum!

After we got our sugar fill, we decided that the Everglades were so awesome that we needed to squeeze in one more quick adventure there before leaving Florida. We started driving toward Everglade City, which is the North Western entrance to the park. As Josh was driving, I was doing a little research trying to figure out exactly where we should go. We hit Everglade City and decided to keep driving to the Shark Valley entrance, which was closer to the airport. The Internet said you could rent bikes there and that seemed too fun to pass up.

We made it to Shark Valley and it was HOT. Like quintessential Florida hot. Like you're dripping sweat within 2 minutes, hot. But whatever, it was our last day in Florida and adventure was calling. There's a 2-hour tram ride through the Everglades that circles around Shark Valley and if we had had enough time, we definitely would have done that. The next tram didn't leave for a couple of hours so we rented bikes instead. There's a 15-mile bike trail loop and sure enough, there was a bike rental shop.

Trail Ride
We picked out our bikes, sun-screened up, filled our water bottles to the tippy top, and took off down the trail. I was smart enough to know that we could not even pretend to make it the fifteen miles in that heat. We decided to ride for thirty minutes and turn around, which is what we did. It was a beautiful, lazy bike ride. The trail runs right along the water's edge, so we saw alligators all over the place. The kids were especially thrilled to see the babies. The crazy thing is, those alligators were literally just feet away from us.

On one part of the trail, there was an alligator that wandered up on the path and decided to take a little break. I wasn't really too worried since he was facing the water and had just his tail hanging out on the trail, but told Ava that was about as close as she would get to getting eaten by an alligator. On the way back around, he was already back in the water, so we felt like got a special little up-close look at him.

The bike ride was fun, but we almost melted. It was SO hot. Although, I think riding bikes was way better than walking would be! We had a nice breeze while we rode, which helped and we made it almost to the 2-mile mark before we turned around. We were all pretty hot by the time we got back, but the overall consensus was that the bike ride through the Everglades was pretty amazing. We chatted with some people who made the whole loop and it sounds like you get different scenery the whole way through, so I can't wait to come back someday and ride the fifteen miles... hopefully on a cooler day!

After our Everglades biking adventure, we had just enough time to squeeze in a quick lunch and ice cream before it was time to head to the airport. We dropped off the rental car, zoomed through security, and settled in to wait for our flight. We had an uneventful plane ride home, which of course is the best kind to have. We were all pretty exhausted for the hour long car ride home, but we made it, and I think the kids were all happy to be back in their beds. Of course, Josh and I were already dreaming about our next adventure.

Trip Budget:
Total - $2500
Airfare - $1380
Car rental - $160
Food - $315
Hotel - $310
Beach toys - $15
Ponchos & water shoes- $30
Everglades pass - $10
Canoe rental - $20
Antibiotics & Benadryl- $10

 

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