Cypress knees and baby ribs
We had an early start today - the fact that we'd been awake since 3.45am had absolutely nothing to do with it of course. After breakfast - today's yogurt flavour was Boston Cream Pie, I kid you not - we set out to explore the Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary just northeast of Bonita Springs.
Containing the world's largest subtropical Bald Cypress forest, and accessed via a 2 mile boardwalk, we had high hopes for a fun morning. Before we even got there, the good ole interstate allowed us privileged views of: a service station with a branch of Hooters, an 'All you can eat' KFC, a Bikini Barn (who'd have thought that many bikinis existed) and the 'All Dogs Hair Haven' - my personal favourite. We assumed this meant pet dogs but we can't make any promises.
On the way also began my near obsession with getting a decent photo of a panther road sign. The Florida Panther is critically endangered with an estimated 80-100 individuals left in the wild. It now occupies only 5% of it's original range - mostly due to development of roads and resorts. Considering their population size, a huge number have been killed on the roads in recent years so in an attempt to stop this, 'Panther traffic' signs are posted. What's wrong with this I hear you cry. All the signs seem to be along stretches of road lined by shopping centres and hotels. If a single panther still lives in any of these areas, then I'm the queen of England! I have yet to get a decent photo by the way, but I'll keep trying.
Luckily, the boardwalk at Corkscrew Swamp proved to be pleasantly shaded by the cypresses so we didn't have to melt in the heat. We discovered a Red-shouldered hawk's nest complete with 2 chicks, some gorgeous swallowtail butterflies that blatantly refused to be photographed and found that cypress trees have knees apparently.
We kept being overtaken by four beige brigaders as we wandered along. I refer to all those bird watchers who take their fashion tips from Bill Oddie and only wear clothing of a certain hue and with more pockets than a mob of kangaroos. It turned out this bunch were volunteer park rangers and they kindly told us all about the wildlife we could see on the boardwalk. We didn't have the heart to tell them we'd seen them all within the first 10 minutes.
Back at the villa, we had a warm bath of a swim, followed by a quick shower and a kip - with two alarms set this time coz there was no way I was missing dinner again. Tonight's culinary adventure was held at Porky's Last Stand - a paradise of BBQ and smoked meat offerings. Mr F chose the smoked, chopped and sauced pork sandwich which could, quite easily, have fed my entire family. For a week. With seconds. I, on the other hand, opted for their signature dish of BBQ baby back ribs. Having seen the portion sizes on other diner's tables, I decided to play safe and went for a half rack with sweet potato fries and coleslaw. This turned out to be a wise move. Needless to say, we didn't make it as far as dessert.
No. of dolphins seen: 0
No. of manatees seen: 0
No. of alligators seen by Mrs W: 3
No. of Florida panthers seen by anyone ever: 0
No. of pigs eaten: 5 (at least)