First off, we hung around home for a little over a week. I guess that's getting normal enough that I don't take pictures. Sad, because Washington is awfully pretty.
Next, we drove from corner to corner of the continental US. You know, the commute.
We took about a week and a half to do the drive, so we would have time to see some stuff. Brilliantly, the government shut down right during that time, so we didn't get to see the parks we were hoping for, but we still saw a few things, such as a giant cow:
|Colorful, I know. Get me out of the green and grey, and this is what you get.|
and the old homeplace (why the heck didn't we take pictures of the neighbors we visited?! Oh well, here's Jeff collecting hickory bark for syrup):
Settling in took a while, of course, but we have gotten to explore our surroundings some. First impression: it's flat here:
We get out in more than just the car, of course. New place, new toys:
Jeff has been fishing quite a bit:
and has been pretty successful. He only keeps the invasive species, so he's thrown back quite a few bluegill and largemouth bass, but we've been eating a fair amount of tilapia and mayan cichlids, like these guys:
The infamous pythons have yet to be spotted by us. The alligators are all over, but don't care that we exist. The mosquitoes are decreasing supposedly, but I can't imagine being here when they're worse - at least down in Flamingo:
We get out some, as well, and have visited our friends Becky and Nate on Key Largo:
They took us out snorkeling at John Pennekamp State Park, where she works, which was fantastic:
|Wish we could have eaten that lobster...|
We also headed northwest for a weekend, and visited some Stehekin seasonal friends in Tampa and St. Petes:
Diane's friend has a sailboat with a couple issues, so Jeff offered to go up in the bosun's chair to check the pulleys up there:
All the way up:
But it wasn't all work. We also went to a rib fest (you won't find that in Stehekin!), and had a little wine:
Speaking of work, we do actually work here. Our job is in Environmental Education here, working mostly with fifth graders, typically from Miami, on field trips to the Everglades. It's great work and we're learning a lot. No photos, though, because of privacy issues (and we really don't have time when riding herd anyway!), but there are other parts to our job. Soon, we'll be starting up camp programs for the kids, and so we needed to help set up camps. The tents are ginormous, and take at least 8 people to set up:
A lot of our time has been training, as well. Some has been shadowing others doing programs, some has been powerpoint presentations, and most recently, it's been exploring the rest of the park (which is huuuuuge) with the rest of the interpretation division's staff, who are just arriving. We've been to each major section of the park: Royal Palm, Shark Valley, Gulf Coast, and Flamingo. Each has its different things to see, so it's been a bit of a firehose effect getting it all in.
First, there was Royal Palm, the area we work in. The most photogenic tour we took there was the Nike Missile Site tour. During the cold war, missiles and soldiers were stationed here to be the first line of defense against the Cubans. This missile site is about a mile from our office.
|Remind you of pro-coal and pro-logging campaigns?|
The next day was Shark Valley's turn, the area that gets the most visitation because it's right on the main highway between Tampa and Miami. We took the tourist tram with a ranger-training twist:
and visited the tower at the end of the road:
They also led us on a slough slog, which is something we will be doing with the kiddos at camp:
The Gulf Coast was pretty, but pretty flat, so not very photogenic. So on to Flamingo, where we took a boat ride just like the tourists do:
Many crocodiles and birds hung out for us to gaze upon:
|After seeing lots of alligators, crocs sure look funny.|
|Ospreys are to Flamingo as pigeons are to NYC.|
We got out on our own boat as well, for a Jeff-and-Kate paced adventure into Snake Bight:
And finally, we had a picnic and campout at the Flamingo Campground. It's very nice camping spot, except for the mosquitoes at night. Holy cow.
A corn snake decided to visit our picnic spot:
which brought around all the tourists- uh, rangers. Yes, we still get excited by corn snakes:
Rangers are very good at providing their own entertainment, and seem to be a circus show all by themselves. Glow juggling and hooping finished off the night:
until we couldn't handle the bugs anymore and took refuge in our tents.
Two more days of training, and then we'll be back to that tough, tough job of ours - hangin' with the kiddos.
Man, we're lucky.