We were greeted by this fine fellow. I'm pretty sure that peacocks aren't what most folks think of when they think of The Everglades, but I bought a fridge magnet featuring him in the gift shop anyway.
Back when we were planning the cruise, DeeAnn and I contemplated an air boat ride, but we realized that the trip to the park would be far more expensive than the boat trip. We never expected to make it to the park, but once we got there (courtesy of Colleen), we kinda decided we were too tired, and maybe too chicken to do it anyway. But the boats were cool.
But should you ever get to this place, the air boat rides are really quite reasonable.
A hug-discouraging tree...
DeeAnn and I both squealed when we spotted the Spanish Moss hanging from this tree. I'd never seen it in person, and though Dee lives in North Carolina, she'd never seen it on a tree either.
I'm pretty sure Colleen had second thoughts about being seen with us after all that moss excitement. Dee took a handful home in her suitcase.
The power lines are shaped differently in Florida.
Colleen did not encourage us to get out of the car and wander around, looking for photo ops, given that this stretch of highway is called Alligator Alley.
It was such fun to see Colleen, and it was so kind of her to shepherd us around her world for an afternoon. We said good-bye reluctantly and then just settled in for an early night. My flight was early, and it was recommended that I get to the airport at least 90 minutes before flight time, which meant I was up and ready to go at 3:00am.
The less said about the fact that the airline folks didn't open the lines until 4:30am, or that a wonky scale prompted the agent to make me unzip my suitcase and redistribute dirty clothes into a duffle bag (in front of a line of other impatient folks) when I was absolutely certain that my case wasn't overweight (and surely enough, it wasn't- the pair of bags only weighed 45lbs, under the weight allowed for a single suitcase...), the better. By the time I got through security, even with precheck status, my flight was nearly ready to board. And by the time I got to Atlanta, I had just enough time to get to my gate and board a flight so bumpy that no beverage service was offered. So by the time I got to Minneapolis, I'd been up for 10 hours already, with no food. But, the less said...
I had enough time in Minneapolis for a leisurely lunch and a beer (at 10am, with no guilt whatsoever). I spent the rest of my airport time reading The Martian, a book I recommend highly.
The flight from Minneapolis to Aberdeen was smooth and short (it's usually around 42 minutes).
And the land at home, while still brown, was at least not white.
So, wonderful trip, wonderful homecoming. Next weekend, I am teaching in Rapid City at the Black Hills Fiber Festival, and after that, I'm home until mid-August! Woot!