July 6, 2014

Speedy's Airboat Tours in the Florida Everglades

Speedy's Airboat Tours in the Florida Everglades 
Todd Swank's Diary Entry for July 6, 2014

On Monday, we drove down to the Florida Everglades to go on an air-boat ride and see some alligators.  We were kind of surprised to see all the signs warning us about Panther Traffic, but even more disappointed when we discovered them signs were liars.  We didn't see a panther anywhere!!

Our first stop was at Speedy's Airboat Tours.  I've always wanted to ride an air-boat through the everglades and now I was finally going to get my chance.

We told Captain Fred we were really excited to see an alligator.  So he showed us one!

The time came for us to get on the boats.  Since the boats could only sit 6 people, we decided to break up into two groups of four.  Of course, the kids wanted to stay together.

So the adults rode in a boat together.  But we didn't mind.  Those kids get kind of ornery.

We started off by zipping through a bunch of mangrove trees.

It kind of looked like they have taken this route before.

It took me about 5 minutes to realize I was the only one not wearing a headset.

I tried to ride without the headset for awhile but chose to put them on when I started feeling my brain rattle inside of my head.

Flying through the mangrove trees was fun, but out in the grasslands the captains could really show us some tricks.

I was kind of glad not to be able to see what the kids were doing, because I would have probably ended up worrying about them instead of having the good time that I did!

Here's a couple of video clips of our trip.

Before we did this, I was really thinking this was going to be more about going out and seeing nature, but it actually ended up being more of an adventure ride.  Captain Fred and Captain Kevin were very nice guys who provided a safe ride which was quite thrilling.  I was a little disappointed we didn't see many critters on the trip, but the captains said the airboats pretty much scare everything away.  They also told us the water was still pretty brackish and as the rains continue, more gators will appear with the fresher water.

They told us to drive down the road about 10 miles to the Big Cypress National Preserve and we'd see all the gators we could possibly want to see.  They weren't kidding.

 We drove down Turner River Road and saw a ton of them right next to where we were driving.

Tracy insisted on getting out of the car to get pictures up close.  It created a lot of debate between us on how safe is a safe distance as well as how fast can alligators really run.  I'm guessing this distance would be considered unsafe, but we were lucky and had no problems with them chasing us.  Most of them just kept laying down not moving in the hot sun.  And watching us.  And drooling.

The last time I was in Florida I was told they could run about 30 miles per hour and could catch you if they wanted to.

Lucky for my sister, they apparently didn't really want us.

I can only imagine how terrifying it would be to have one of these monsters chasing you!!

There were several boardwalks set-up through the preserve which gave us the opportunity to get near the critters without needing to walk right next to them.  Unless they were to suddenly figure out how to get on the boardwalks, then it would be back to the footrace concept again.

We didn't see any gators on this trail, but we did hear what sounded like some very angry bullfrogs.  

We also saw a very vicious grasshopper, but luckily he didn't mess with us.

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