Jodi: Not long ago, David, Jeff and I got up early on a foggy Sunday morning and set off for Orlando Wetlands Park.
David: This land near the community of Christmas in east Orange County was purchased by the City of Orlando in 1986. The various wetland ecosystems on site – forested and non-forested – remove excess nutrients from reclaimed wastewater treated at the Iron Bridge Regional Wastewater Treatment Plant near Oviedo. I had wanted to visit the park for a long time and was glad to finally get the chance.
J: I was so excited to see the ‘Cranes and their baby! We kept a close but respectful distance as we watched them disappear deep into the tall grass.
D: Sandhill cranes are impressive even to a “non birder-type” like me.
D: A number of bird species can be observed at the park. Judging by comments we overheard from the few other visitors we came close to this day, bird watching seems to be a very popular activity here.
J: Ibis rookery??
D: Ummm…think pink with a more unusual bill.
J: Late night or bad hair day? You be the judge.
D: If you’re like me and scales and scutes trump feathers you won’t be disappointed. This place boasts a “robust” population of alligators.
J: As the sun rose higher into the sky, we realized we too were being watched!
D: It was a little intimidating to be watched by so many pairs of crocodilian eyes…just sayin’
J: So I’m on this path and I see a pretty flower with a dragonfly…photo op!
J: Camera in hand, I’m backing up, and backing up, and Jeff says, “STOP, stay right there, don’t move”. Why? I’m not done.
J: Uhhh, you guessed it… I almost stepped on an alligator. Imagine you’re an alligator laying on the bank. You’re watching this crazy lady as she keeps backing up and about to step on your tail. Do you wonder how fast she can run? Or how fast you can swim to get away from her?!? Oops!
On a serious note, this park is a great place to bring the relatives from up North who just want to see an alligator. We lost count of how many we saw in our short hike.
D: Robust population
D: Can’t forget about the plants
D: A nice feature at the park is the Oyler Overlook. It is an earthen mound with a gradual incline that takes one to an elevation about 30′ above the surrounding landscape. It’s a great spot to take some pictures, survey the landscape or just take a moment or two break from the hike.
J: We spent 2-3 hours leisurely walking the approximately 6 mile trail. Next time we plan to bring our bicycles to check out a different trail. If you would like to see the property for yourself, we recommend that you check their website before making the trip out as they are closed at some times during the year.
D: Right…the Park is closed from November 15th through January 31st of each year. There are opportunities for bike riding and there is also a tram operated by volunteers – “Friends of the Orlando Wetlands” (www.orlandowetlands.org for more info on the tram and events). I thought the tram and offer of a ride were mighty tempting when we were about 2 miles from the end of our little adventure. We “toughed it out”, but all bets are off for next time.
Now it’s your turn to get out and Hike Central Florida and beyond but remember to always, ALWAYS watch your step!
Until next time…
David: Whereas some like my brother and his mountain biking friends prefer to be out bashing and thrashing through the mud and trees of a mountain bike course, my taste runs to a nice smooth trail pedaling at a sane pace and soaking in the sights. The section of the Cross-Seminole Trail from downtown Oviedo to Layer Elementary in Winter Springs is a favorite of mine with bridges, creeks, parks, wildflowers, wildlife and easy access.
David: We scheduled our biking day for a Sunday. We wanted to get on the road fairly early in the morning so, Jodi’s husband, Jeff, and I loaded the bikes in my vehicle Saturday night. As I suspected, there were three bicycles and no lounge chair as was called for in the original, i.e. Jodi’s plan. This trip was going to be interesting!
Jodi: The plans were made and the day had come to bike and tan at Canaveral National Seashore (CNS). The guys were going off on their bicycles and I was going to soak up some rays. I wanted to finish up that John Grisham novel I’d started. Yeah! Dave’s SUV was loaded and ready to go. I called ‘shotgun’ and climbed in the front passenger seat. I looked back to see Hubby and three bicycles. Three? Is my chair back there? Nope!
I gave him that wife to husband ‘you’ve got to be kidding me?!’ look. He just laughed and said you’re going with us. Great I thought. The last time I was on a bicycle, I was nearly hit by a car. It was completely my fault. I’m not exactly known for my gracefulness. But that’s what this blog is about…getting up and out and doing new things. Ok, I’m a good sport, I’ll roll with it. (Pun definitely intended.) As it turned out, Hubby who is a Florida native didn’t know there were North and South Districts of CNS either.