WUSF Everglades Canoe trip

I was fortunate enough to snag a spot off the waitlist to attend a supported Everglades canoe trip benefitting WUSF. My dear friend Chris Wilkerson was available to attend so away we went to Monument Lake Campground.

We met there to go to a docent led wet walk behind Clyde Butcher’s studio in Ochopee. WOW!

Orchids and Bromeliads.

It was just amazing. Over 2 hour walk. Chris and I were able to quickly go into Everglades City and a quick look at Rod and Gun Club. An old favorite.

Back to camp with a nice dinner. The tour operator was Wilderness Inquiry and they were great.

We had an early out for transfer of this canoe city to Collier Seminole State Park. Everything in the canoes before we head out.

It took longer to get in and we paddled to Tazz Key and camping before setting up home base on Whitehorse Key.

It was high enough to withstand tide and appeared beautiful until the no see ums. Talk about WOW. In tents at 6 pm.

Happy to get moving to Whitehorse Key.

It was in this day that we saw the flock of pelicans that were the featured image. Whitehorse Key was great and more often than not the bugs were not bad at all. The most spectacular green flash I have ever seen.

The next day was a longer paddle from home base to Buttonwood Bay Beach. Fishing and instructions before leaving.

The next day a shorter paddle to a beach near by and lunch. Manatee sighting.

Last night was pizzas and sunset.

Final day with breakfast, instructions and a heartfelt goodbye for all the participants. It was a great group of people. Our 2 guides Julie and Alex worked there tails off for our comfort.

Friday morning Aitutaki and getaway day to home

A long great sleep with usual grand breakfast. A last cloudy lagoon swim and pool swim. Shower and packing. Lunch at Tamanu Beach.

We have our room until our transfer from Etu Moana to Aitutaki Airport. 45 minute hop to Rarotonga. Big crowd at airport.

Some time to kill in Rarotonga before the almost midnight flight from Raro to LA. Our hosts at Etu Moana recommended Tamarind House Restaurant for dinner and it was superb.

I must comment on the unspoiled nature for the most part of the Cook Islands. It has been a refreshing change of beauty, culture and pure type of island life. Meitaki Maata Cook Islands.

Thursday morning Aitutaki

I was given an option to borrow a scooter and did so. A great solo roll around the island.

I came back and got Mariella convinced I could manage a grandma scooter ride down to the north end of the island for lunch and a surprise and she hesitantly agreed. The surprise was the aquatic nature center that farms… clams.

It was a big treat for Mariella, as well as me, which we thoroughly enjoyed. It was an amazing kaleidoscope of colors and sizes. We had lunch at the the Boatshed Restaurant with a colorful history and museum. Jimmy Buffett looked like he could have been here. Maybe he has.

On the scooter we hopped and I showed Mariella the Aitutaki Lagoon Villas. She was nervous on the scooter but, was a real trooper.

A long swim in a cloudy lagoon then the pool. Dinner at Sam and Beverly’s and it was lovely. Larry an American ex pat ate with us and it was a real nice evening. Lasagna with salad and passion fruit ice cream. Sam and Beverly were great hosts. They go to Raro for the weekend.

Peace out Tres

Wednesday morning Aitutaki after a cyclone hit Fiji

We had heard that Fiji was hit with a cyclone and the tail of it would cause some storming in Aitutaki. It did. Big swells of waves going over the lagoon reef with high winds and intermittent heavy rains.

My wife sent me out for breakfast in the rain. Poncho man.

We read for awhile and our room was made up. After a couple of hours and the rain had subsided some we went for a walk down the road to Pacific resort.

Lunch in room with short nap the pool swim. No snorkeling in lagoon today. Cleaned up and went to town for the Amuri village presentation of dance, music and singing in what is known as Koni Raoni. It was great. It is only done 2 times per year, Christmas and New Years.

Quick ride home.

Dinner at Sam and Beverly’s. Lamb shank to die for with rice and vegetables and passion fruit ice cream. Peace out Tres

Tuesday morning Aitutaki

I may start to sound redundant but, a lazy rollout, grand breakfast and fairly nice weather. Mariella informed me directly after breakfast that I needed to take a bike ride before she would be ready to kayak and or snorkel in our backyard lagoon. The road and I obliged. I got a different bike, a mtn bike, and off I went.

I headed north toward the airport.

Then went to see some places I had considered to stay at before deciding to stay at Etu Moana. Also the view from Boatshed Restaurant.

The helper from our lagoon cruise Joel. Real great guy.

I returned to find Mariella ready to snorkel. There are lots of fish where we are at. It was great we snorkeled for an hour and a half. Same underwater pics as before with a couple of new finds. Visibility already deteriorating.

Shower, lunch of tuna fish, nap and reading got us to a great dinner time stroll down the beach to Sam’s. Polynesian heaven. Storm coming. Stay tuned. Kia Orana Tres dog

Monday morning Aitutaki

A very lazy rollout after a grand day. Another outstanding breakfast at Etu Moana. It was decided that I would dawn bike clothes and get the best bike I could to cycle into town for the proverbial lunch stuff. Mariella would stay back and enjoy an easy morning. The road called.

I had a 3 speed metro bike with a basket. I got some more air in the tires. It seemed the bike only rolled so well but, off I went into Arutunga harbor.

I wanted to explore some more and up the hill I started. I climbed up to a ridge above town. Very cool neighborhood.

I followed the signs for Piraki lookout. It appeared that the 3 speed internal hub on the bike was intermittently catching and braking the bike causing it to slow. I had a piece of hill that just was not getting it done with the bike so. Not sure I was all the way but I was where I would stop and turn around. The views were cool.

I got down to Maina superstore and got my shopping list. Back down the road I went.

Mariella has a swim in the lagoon while I was away. A swim, shower, lunch, nap and reading for me, before fabulous grilled chicken at Sam and Beverly’s Local Grinds Restaurant.

I brought Sam his pineapple top. Really nice people. Peace out Tres