Thanksgiving with the crocodiles

  • Posted on 28 February 2005
  • By Chapter Reports

Looking for an exotic trip without leaving the country? Join the third Angeles Chapter-sponsored Natural and Wild Florida trip. Participants will snorkel in a coral reef, swim with manatees, and tour the Everglades, among other adventures.

This year's trip of 10 days and 10 nights, November 18-28, has been extended from previous trips to allow for more activities.

We will spend a few days exploring the Florida Keys, including a five-hour ride on a glass-bottom boat to some beautiful and remote areas, such as Looe Key, the best coral reef in the U.S. Swimming with dolphins, seals, and rays will be an option, and we'll watch dolphin and sea lion shows. Other stops include a bird sanctuary and Key West.

Everglades National Park is a World Heritage Site containing both temperate and tropical plant communities, including saw grass prairies, mangrove and cypress swamps, and pinelands. The park is known for its rich bird life, particularly large wading birds such as the roseate spoonbill, wood stork, great blue heron, and egrets.


photo by Fred Dong

Participants in previous Chapter trips saw exotic wildlife, like this American alligator in the Everglades.

It is also the only place in the world where alligators and crocodiles exist side by side. We will spend two days here, hiking, canoeing, taking an island boat cruise, and enjoying an evening barbecue. You will also have time to explore this wilderness on your own.

Next stop, Big Cypress National Preserve, adjacent to the Everglades. Then a hike in Fakahatchee Strand State Preserve, which contains the largest stand of native royal palms and largest concentration and variety of orchids in North America. We also will visit the Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary, an Audubon Society preserve that is home to the largest remaining stand of ancient bald cypress in North America, and Sanibel Island, one of Florida's resort areas. Our Sanibel visit will include Thanksgiving dinner at a beachfront resort.

Finally, we'll travel to Homosassa Springs and visit a native Florida wildlife park. The trip finale will be our swim with the manatees in front of our waterfront hotel.

Naturalists and rangers will lead us on many of our adventures. We will also get an opportunity to meet local Sierra Clubbers, when members of the Florida Chapter hike with us in Loxahatchee National Refuge near West Palm Beach. Our knowledgeable guides will ensure that we meet many denizens of Florida's magnificent natural areas and return from this trip rich with memories.

Once the sun goes down we'll find comfortable quarters at two- or three-diamond AAA-rated establishments. This includes two nights in Key West, two nights in Everglades National Park and two nights in Homosassa.

The Angeles Chapter's Florida trip runs November 18-28. The price for this O-rated trip is $1,495 until June 30, after which the price goes up to $1,525. (Nonmembers pay $100 more.) Price for children under 12 staying in room with two full-paying adults: $1,000. If you want to arrange your own airfare, a limited number of spaces offer a $350 credit against the trip price. The price covers admission to all parks and attractions, numerous boat excursions, Thanksgiving dinner, breakfast every morning, and a barbecue dinner. Also included are nine nights' lodging, roundtrip airfare, bus touring costs, refreshments, and more. Nearly all the excursions are included, except swimming with dolphins, sea lions, and rays, and one day of events in the Everglades.

To sign up, send three large SASEs, contact info, and check for the full amount (payable to Sierra Club) to reservationist Cliff Caplan, 2108 Rockefeller Lane, #A, Redondo Beach, 90278 (310-376-9105). Leader: Fred Dong (818-545-3878).

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