91 miles today, mostly through the Florida Everglades. Currently in Florida City Florida, described as the "Gateway to the Keys". Judging from the number of other bike riders on the road, I am likely the only person in the world to be able to say I rode through the entire Everglades today!!! How cool is that? Some incredible scenery....great early morning sunrise, sun shining on underwater rocks, flowing sawgrass fields, diverse trees, massive water pumps, the elusive Everglades panther and I knew eventually I would encounter Big Foot on the ride.
Now to the Everglades. There is just so much to cover. The Everglades is a natural region of tropical wetlands in the southern portion of Florida. The ecosystem it forms is not presently found anywhere else on earth. The system begins near Orlando with the Kissimmee River, which discharges into the vast but shallow Lake Okeechobee. Water leaving the lake in the wet season forms a slow-moving river 60 miles wide and over 100 miles long, flowing southward across a limestone shelf to Florida Bay at the southern end of the state.
Human habitation in the southern portion of the Florida peninsula dates to 15,000 years ago. Before European colonization, the region was dominated by the native Calusa and Tequesta tribes. With Spanish colonization, both tribes declined gradually during the following two centuries. The Seminole, formed from mostly Creek people and assimilated other peoples created a new culture after being forced from northern Florida into the Everglades during the Seminole Wars of the early 19th century. After adapting to the region, they were able to resist removal by the United States Army.
Following are 10 facts about the Everglades:t the region started constructing canals throughout the first half of the 20th century, and spurred the South Florida economy, prompting land development. In 1947, Congress formed the Central and Southern Florida Flood Control Project, which built 1,400 miles (2,300 km) of canals, levees, and water control devices. The Miami metropolitan area grew substantially at this time and Everglades water was diverted to cities. Portions of the Everglades were transformed into farmland, where the primary crop was sugarcane. Approximately 50 percent of the original Everglades has been developed as agricultural or urban areas. Plans have been formulated to restore the Everglades but as can be imagined, implementation will face significant cost and political challenges.
Following are 10 interesting facts about the Everglades:
1. The size of the Everglades is absolutely tremendous at more than 1.5 million acres – 1,508,538 acres, to be exact.
2. 36 threatened or endangered species call the Everglades home. Included in the list are both the elusive Florida panther and the American crocodile.
3. While famous for alligators, the Everglades features over 350 species of birds and 300 species of both fresh and saltwater fish.
4. Sawgrass plants are known for their razor sharp blades of grass that are known to be able to even cut through clothing. Rivers of these plants fill the waterways with grass up to 6 feet tall, and boats in the everglades use large, air-powered, fans to ride right over it.
5. While the Everglades are mostly famous for the alligators; it is the only place in the world where alligators and crocodiles actually coexist.
6. One out of every three Floridians (over 20 million people) relies on the Everglades for their water supply.
7. The Everglades is the largest wilderness of any kind east of the Mississippi River.
8. Often described as a wetland or swamp, the Everglades is really a very slow moving river.
9. It’s also North America’s largest subtropical wetland ecosystems.
10. The average depth is only 4-5 feet deep. The deepest point is only 9 feet.
Tomorrow I will begin riding down the Florida Keys on my way to Key West. I am roughly three weeks ahead of schedule so I am likely to "slow ride" down the Keys until next Thursday playing tourist along the way....might even do some fishing.