The expansive “River of Grass” that is the Everglades gives you two distinctly divergent looks. One is the spectacularly beautiful gifts that nature provides. The other, the greedy, self-serving, destruction that only man can produce.
Since the 1930’s the rapid development of the south Florida landscape and the diversion of its water has wreaked irreversible damage. There are now 93% fewer wading birds than when development began.
The National Park was created in 1947 to help save part of the Glades (it’s the only park in the US ever created just for that reason).
Gators are everywhere, but even they are becoming endangered by the lack of water (drained off by man-made canals) in certain seasons.
We climbed the observation tower at Pa-hay-okee for some amazing vistas of the salt and freshwater habitats and hardwood hammocks. A wonder of different micro-environments in an area that never gets more than 8-feet in elevation.
We hiked the Anhinga and Gumbo Limbo trails with a little alligator trepidation, but came away unharmed and in awe. Go visit as soon as you can!
Fortunately, sometimes man can get it right too. Our next stop was at the extraordinary Vizcaya Museum and Gardens on the Biscayne Bay.
No photos allowed inside, but the grounds themselves are as spectacular. We stepped out the back door to find “The Barge”, a concrete “ship” on which guests could party.
Vizcaya was built by wealthy businessman James Deering (International Harvester) as many American industrialists were inspired by the palaces of Europe. It was completed in 1916, but made to look as though his family might have occupied it for years.
The gardens mix Italian and French design with plants that thrive in the subtropical setting. This is the view from the south terrace.
There are a surprising number of levels and specialty themed gardens with beautiful sculpture and stonework.
The theater garden…no performances today though.
A sphinx looking back at the house, probably contemplating an escape from the National Landmark. We make plans too, but to head for the art deco center on South Beach. Another era, another tribute to man’s creative side. So head up Rt. 1 and over the causeway. We’ll meet you there at five…in time for cocktails.