Living Life Like a Tourist in My Own Part of the World
Tuesday, June 14, 2011
Chapel Trail Nature Preserve - Pembroke Pines
There are plenty of places to bike ride in South Florida. I try and stay on the trails and off the main roads but to find those trails, sometimes you need to go exploring. Last weekend was one of those times. I headed West and found a place I had never even heard of before. The Chapel Trail Nature Preserve. When I moved to Florida in 1978, the Everglades were about 70 blocks from the beach. Well here I was 198 blocks from the beach and there is hardly a square foot not developed. I was glad to see there was a tiny little bit of nature left so that people could see what the "Glades" once looked like.
Keep in mind this is June at noon and the temperature is about 92 degrees. The Everglades is really a river of grass that used to cover the entire southern end of Florida. Normally the water is only a few feet deep but on the day I was there, the water levels were zero. A lot of the park was bone dry. Add to that the reflective surface of the recycled plastic board walks and it was hot enough to clean an oven. Not surprising there was no one at the park. It takes a real South Floridian to venture outside in the summer time. Mostly we travel in little pockets of A/C from the house to the car to the store to the car to back home. The wildlife pretty much has the same idea. Not much moves at mid day and nothing at all seemed to be around this visit. So is it worth making a trip for? Absolutely but plan your trip after it rains a bit. There are long winding boardwalks with signs for wildlife spotting all along the way. I had just started down the walkway when an alligator made it's presence know with loud barks and grunts. It was right under me as it was the only shade and just a drop of water. The smell of drying muck is not the most pleasant but I had never seen water this low before so I pushed on to see what was out there. Aside from a few birds and one lone gator - nothing.
Later in the day a typical summer storm popped up with 60 MPH winds, hail, and about an 1/2 inch of rain all within 30 minutes. Summer is here and it won't be long till the Chapel Trail Nature Preserve is full of water and critters. For a real thrill, rent a canoe and see if you can find that toasty, hungry gator.