Spring and Fall in Southwest Miami-Dade County, 2015

Spring starting point:
Silver Palm, FL 33170
25°33’03.40″N 80°26’43.82″W elev 11 ft

Fall starting point:
SW 168 Street and SW 208 Avenue, Miami FL 33187
25°36’30.57″N 80°31’30.14″W elev 5 ft

Our bike riding adventures took us to southwest Miami Dade County twice this year. In May, they took us to the Redland historic agricultural area. Our path followed public roads barely recognizable as roads and canal C-102. We saw a variety of farms: avocado, palm tree, mango, dragon fruit, bromeliad and many others. We also saw donkeys and purple love grass.

In November, we ventured into the fringe of Miami Dade County just west of the C-357 seepage canal where “farmburbia” peters out and the Everglades National Park begins. Once again we followed the ruins of public roads. This time they were overgrown with grasses as thick as your thumb and so high they blocked out the sun. Once inside the perimeter of Everglades National Park, there were two roads to choose from. One was cut out of the native limestone floor. We took this road as far as we could before it became flooded, which wasn’t very far. The other was made of raised hard pack and offered a great view of the endless horizon of Shark River Slough. We saw mocking birds, blue jays, butterflies, goats, chickens, cows, horses, dogs and, unfortunately, discarded tires, soda pop cans, mini fridges and cell phone accessories circa 2005. We also stumbled upon Julio’s Apiary, a licensed bee farm.














7 miles on the Fringe







Select Florida Native Grasses for North Central Florida – Fact Sheet #67, by Gale Kempner, University of Florida IFAS Extension
Modified Water Deliveries to Everglades National Park, 8.5 Square Mile Area, by Michael J. Collis, US Army Corps of Engineers, Jacksonville District, May 23, 2012
Agrilicious: Julio’s Apiary & Avocado/Mango Grove

Slogging the Florida Trail, Jan 2013

Florida National Scenic Trail (Southern Terminus; Loop Road access point)
25°45’32.27″N 81°02’52.61″W elev 4 ft

The trail was 60% mud, 20% water, and 20% dry grass. I was not prepared for how exhausting walking in the mud, or "slogging," is.

The trail was 60% mud, 20% water, and 20% dry grass. I was not prepared for how exhausting walking in the mud, or “slogging,” is.

See, muddy!

See, muddy!

About a mile into the trail is a pine hammock that was just full of wintering songbirds, inlcuding the Eastern Bluebird. It was really incredible how fearless they were; they darted about us, close enough to touch, as if we weren’t even there. They were so tiny and so fast that I wasn’t able to get a good picture.

The trail runs through a forest of “old growth” Cypresses. I think these are Dwarf Cypresses. Despite how small they look, they are hundreds of years old! They look kinda spooky in the winter without their needles.

There were air plants everywhere!

Tillandsia utriculata, the “Giant Air Plant”!

This itty bitty guy was about the size of a quarter.

The eerie Tillandsia paucifolia, small and silvery from being out in the sun. The Institute for Systematic Botany has digitized some images of Tillandsia paucifolia here http://florida.plantatlas.usf.edu/SpecimenDetails.aspx?PlantID=611

Isn’t he a cutie! Southeastern Lubber Grasshopper: 2 1/2″; flightless; slow-moving. Emits foul-smelling secretion when distrubed (National Audubon Society, “Field Guide to Florida”).

A crayfish. Isn’t he funny looking?! He was about 5″ long. He remained in this position for several minutes, then submerged himself in the mud.

Bartram’s Sabatia

Blue-Eyed Grass

Blue-Eyed Grass

Old Field Toadflax

Old Field Toadflax

Ollie’s picked up a scent! The air along the trail was delicious!

Loop Rd, Jan 2013

Loop Rd, Big Cypress National Preserve, Ochopee, FL 34141, USA
25°48’38.09"N 81°06’51.17"W elev 3 ft

A road, mostly unpaved, 25 miles long, running parallel to Tamiami Trail (US-41) on its south side.

There were hundreds of ibis feeding amongst the cypress trees and air plants.

There were hundreds of ibises feeding amongst the cypress trees and air plants. There must have been lots of yummy crayfish!

The Brown Ibises are perfectly camoflaged; there are three in this photo.

The Brown Ibises are perfectly camoflaged; there are three in this photo.

We also saw baby alligators...

We also saw baby alligators…

and a watersnake! But it was dead.

and a Southern Water Snake! But it was dead. Nothing to be afraid of either way, because they’re neither poisonous nor aggressive.