I finished up my Florida trip with some time spent visiting what I call the "real" Florida: wildlife, parks, ocean and nature.
We went to the waterfront at St Petersburg, where Cuban Pete welcomed us grandly:
"My Name is Cuban Pete! I'm the King of the Rhumba Beat!"
"Cuban Pete," actually, is my name for a huge stuffed alligator in a gift shop there. He's named after an old Mambo song. Outside, there was a very important convention having to do with the fishing business:
The next day we went to the Myakka River State Park, a gorgeous example of everything that should be protected and preserved in South Florida. However, it had been raining some the days before we went, so a good portion of the trails were being reclaimed by the swamp. After some heavy head-scratching, we finally figured out, with the help of this wonderful park service sign, that the trail was "very wet". Can you tell?
But did I let that stop me from my rough and rugged exploration? Heck no.
"Alligators? What alligators?"
This gator was actually in the river, and I got this distance shot of him very late in the day. You can't tell from the photo, but he was probably about 7-8 feet long.
South Floida is also bird-watcher's heaven, especially if you like big water-birds:
But alas, all good things must come to an end, so we bid a heartfelt farewell to the Myakka River at sunset, and made our way back to Tampa.