Lenny and I are in Miami to visit his mother. But we took a day off to see another national park – Biscayne National Park.
Only an hour south of crowded, noisy Miami is this underwater park. Biscayne NP is blue – blue water and blue skies. And even in November, it is hot. We arrived at the visitor center just as it opened. We had made reservations weeks ago to take a boat ride to Boca Chica Key but now it seemed like our trip was in jeopardy. The concession that runs the boat trip wants a minimum of eight people and so far only had four. Not a good start.
I stifled a desire to ask “What is there to do around here?”. Instead we saw the movie promising us birds, turtles, manatees and more. But it was just a movie; I wanted to see the real thing.
They were able to get eight people so we were off – 15 minutes late. If the National Park Service ran it, things would start on time. But here in tropical Miami, things are casual. Why doesn’t the Park Service run these boats? The answer is that private enterprise can run it cheaper but it’s not the same experience. The first mate charged with giving us a talk did a superficial job.
The ride to Boca Chica took almost an hour. We saw herons, egrets, cormorants and brown pelicans on the way.
The island is very small. We walked the one 0.5 mile trail through the mangrove and saw plenty of black vultures close up. If we had rented a canoe and paddled ourselves, we could have gone through the mangrove swamp and gotten a more up close and personal look at the vegetation.
We climbed the lighthouse to see blue waters as far as the eye could see. The Miami and Miami Beach skylines were also visible. So were the beginning of the Florida Keys – Boca Chita being one of them.
I realize that without water skills we were at a disadvantage at Biscayne National Park. It’s like coming to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and saying “I don’t hike”. But I’m glad we came. It certainly was a different park.