Everglades National Park, FL - 11/21/2011

Published at 11:48 PM in , ,

Today we drove down to the Everglades National Park, right on the southern tip of Florida.  One of several visitor's centers is located about 29 miles south of the section of I-75 known as Alligator Alley, in a little town called Everglades City.  I wasn't aware that there was a city there, but sure enough, there is.

Outside of the Visitor's Center

We headed into the visitor's center, where there were hands on activities for the kids, which they really enjoyed.  We also watched a movie on the Everglades and learned about what makes it special.  It was beautiful and serene.  There were all kinds of different birds flying around, as well as the much-loved mosquito.
The entrance to the park

After our time in the visitor's center, we went a little further south into the city of Chokoloskee to see Smallwood's Store.  Smallwood's has been in business since 1906, and has served many pioneers and Native Americans, such as the Seminoles.  It was a general store and trading post.  The Seminole would travel 30 - 40 miles by canoe to get to the store. Since it was such a long trip, they often stayed a week before heading home.

Smallwood's Store

Smallwood's was filled with a huge display of items sold during the early days of the store, as well as photos.  It was a neat trip back through time.

Outside were the beautiful waters, where birds fly low and land just off the water.  Michael enjoyed skipping rocks, and the girls loved getting a little dirty and wet on the small beach area.

Interesting to note about Smallwood's Store: The surrounding land was bought by developers to turn into a marina.  Without a permit, or the residents' knowledge, they destroyed and fenced in the road leading to Smallwood's.  After a long and drawn out battle, Smallwood's owner and Ted Smallwood's granddaughter, Lynn McMillan defeated the developers, who are now court-ordered to open and repave the road.  At the time of our visit, the road was open, but not paved, so we parked the RV at the end of the road and walked the quarter-mile or so down to the store.  It's nice to hear that the "little-guy" can still win against a big corporation.  Read more on this battle HERE.

It is 7' by 8'!

On the way out of the Everglades, we stopped at the SMALLEST operating Post Office in the United States!  It is the second smallest in the world, with one in Germany being smaller.  It is located in Ochopee, Florida.  The kids, and Jim and I, couldn't believe how tiny it was.  It was originally an irrigation pipe shed for a local tomato farm.  When a fire destroyed the general store, which housed the post office, this became the new post office.  It has been there ever since!

We enjoyed our brief visit to the Everglades, and tomorrow we are heading down to the KEYS!!

More pictures in the Photo Gallery.

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