I returned about a week ago from a wonderful vacation with my sister-in-love, Carlene, in Florida! What a gift to be with her again, as we live on opposite sides of the continent and don’t get to see each other but usually a couple of times a year. Also, this is the first trip we have done together in about 3 years, so it was very special. We are both Jesus followers, and so enjoy that aspect of our lives together, as well as we like many of the same things when we travel, and so it was a pure delight to be together once again.
A very special highlight of the week was our trip into the Everglades Natational Park. What a special day that was! We found an Eco Tour that would allow us a motor boat ride (most of the Everglades tours use Air Boats and are very loud – so loud that the tourists need to wear headphones.) We wanted to be able to hear the birds as well as see them, so we thought this was wonderful! We also wanted a slower paced adventure, and so the accompanying kayak trip and walking tour on an old Mangrove Island were just perfect! In case you are already wondering, there were no alligators or snakes on the adventure, as we were boating in brackish water.
We observed wonderful wildlife while we toured the Mangrove Islands, and clam beds out to the Gulf of Mexico.
When we arrived at Pavilion Key, we took anchor and then grabbed a kayak for the trip to the island. Pavilion Key is uninhabited but for wild animals, but can be camped on with a permit. It is now a real sand island, one of the few in the area. It had been a mangrove island, but the outer edges of mangroves had been blown away in a hurricane many years ago. The area is called “10,000 Islands” for the many islands in these coastal waters, most of which are mangrove islands.
While on the island, we were privileged to see two recently dug Sea Turtle nests – it was fascinating to see the impressions in the sand where the massive turtle drug itself onto the beach the night before and had carefully dug its nest.
Also, while touring the island, the captain and guide, Bruce, began to tell us about the many beautiful shells that we were finding on the beach. As he spoke, he looked down and saw a Mollusk’s “incubator”, for lack of a better word. I had always thought that shells were just made by God in a variety of sizes, shapes, and colors, and then ‘flung’ out into the oceans where little critters like hermit crabs found them and decided in which ones they wanted to live – not so! Each critter (mollusk) forms a specific type of shell – the mollusk forming the shell and then growing the shell as it comes in and out of the opening to swim, walk, or eat. The mollusk has mucous on the outside of it’s body, and that mucous secretes and deposits calcium carbonate on the exterior rim of the shell. It hardens, and causes the shell to grow. The amazing thing that I disovered is that the dna of the mucous of the mollusk has the exact pattern of the shell within it, so that as it grows, the color, shape, and pattern extend without breaking the pattern! That is amazing! Also, if the pattern of the shell has spikes on it at the largest end of the spiral, it will also be in the dna of the mucous to have the spikes wear down as the shell extends, so that the spikes never preclude the shell from growing! If we were to think about it, with all of the thousands of patterns and colors of shells, this is too intricate a detail for happenstance. It has to be designed by an amazing artist/scientist/mathmatician all rolled into one!
After about an hour on the island, we returned to our kayaks to find an osprey posing beautifully for us! He sat there quite a few minutes – beautiful and majestic on his makeshift throne. He knew lunch was coming and really didn’t wish to budge!
“For as the waters fill the sea, the earth will be filled with an awareness of the glory of the LORD.
Habakkuk 2:14 NLT