At 1:11 a.m. I woke up SWELTERING. The girls and I were spread like starfish on our shared bed, each of us clearly trying not to cross tendrils with the other. The outside sleepers were sticking closer to the cool insulation of the walls. There was no wind blowing through the trailer, but ample wind shaking the bushes and trees outside. It was time to move the trailer back into a wind tunnel. Moving wind would be better than none at all. Finding no access to wind in our site, I finally pulled out and backed into the site across the driveway from us, with our back door (screened) open to the Atlantic and a stiff breeze, albeit warm, blowing from the storm.
Then I crept back in the trailer and, for quite some time, watched the strobe show that continued for the remainder of the night. I've seen some pretty good electrical storms before, but nothing quite this spectacular. I'm surprised the girls slept through it. Between the lightning aloft flashing at intervals so close that counting wasn't feasible, the crashing wavelets (they were still only a foot or so tall, but they crashed right on shore about 25 feet from the trailer door), and the wind blowing through the trees it was a loud, disruptive night. I woke again at 2:30 when the faucet opened on the roof, and the rain began splattering through the screens. I closed some of the windows, but it was too hot to close them all, so I left those on the sheltered side of the trailer and at the back door open.
At 7 a.m., my heavy sleeper woke up and was ready to go. It would have been a great morning to stay in bed and read, what with the wind, rain and lightening, but it was just too hot to lock ourselves in, and nothing on the island (ie. nature center) was open, so short of hanging out in the restroom or sweltering in the trailer, there weren't many options. So we packed up (I got a freshwater shower in the process) and headed to Marathon Key where we happened upon "Stuffed Pig," a local favorite breakfast spot. Pecan pancakes and other treats hit the table minutes before the lightening FIRST struck just across the street. KABOOM! Midway through our meal, KABOOM again! Certainly the most EXCITING breakfast we've experienced.
We did opt to hang out in the restaurant a bit longer than usual rather than walk back out the rig and carry on. Who wants to stand in a puddle on a flat island in mid-ocean while lightening strikes around you? NOT I!
Then off we scooted for Everglades National Park - in search of birds, alligators, crocodiles and maybe a little dry spell.
On our way in to the park we were warned by several volunteers that the campground at the end of the road (Flamingo) was overwhelmed with mosquitos. But after our summer horse packing trip with Maddie we felt prepared. Plus, we had four cans of repellent and the screens on the trailer are good.
We took a hike on the Anhinga boardwalk where we spotted our first 'gator in the wild, and a variety of birds including the namesake. Like a cormorant, it flies under the water to catch fish. It's long, flexible neck also earned it the local nickname "snakebird." We checked out the visitors center, then looked for manatee in the marina (none sighted...murky waters) before heading to camp.
The scare tactic apparently works with most people. There were TWO RVs in the trailer loop. We were the only camper in the other open loop. That's it. Three crazy camper groups in a park with 300 sites. Clearly we hit it off season. But thanks to the storm, the mosquitos were knocked down. We had one in the trailer that night, and swatted a few on our runs to the bathroom, but otherwise the girls enjoyed a lovely evening outside while I made dinner which we all opted to enjoy inside the trailer.
Our pre-bedtime run to the bathroom was indeed our most interesting ever. With flashlights in hand and flipflops on feet, we each exclaimed something or another at the same time as we opened the bathroom door. What came out most clearly was E's, "Look! A scorpion!" I'd noted a large spider. V pointed out a frog just outside the door. The spider was notable for its size (though hardly a fraction of a tarantula - still interestingly large), but the "scorpion" was a crawdad/crayfish that had found its way into the girls' room. Freaky!
After we wrapped up our bathroom business, I dangled a piece of toilet paper in front of the crawdad which immediately attacked it and attached itself to the paper. I carried the weird creature out to the grass where he threw himself off the rescue tool and began hiding, tail first. Then we decided to turn back and look for the frog. Instead, we found a coiled snake which, I believe, was a pygmy rattle snake, one of the park's four poisonous snake species. GREAT!
And guess who got ENTIRELY dressed, complete with close-toed shoes, and carried a flashlight on that very early mornin' wake-up run to the loo...