LET THE ADVENTURE UNFOLD: Phoenix Kids Travel to Study

(Can you spot the alligator?)

We awaken hungrily, and truly appreciate our breakfast of Kyle pancakes, cereal, fruit, milk, and juice. After filling up, we head back to discover the Anhinga Trail by day. Shapes and shadows of last night come to life in the sunlight. 

Lazy alligators bask on the banks, warming themselves.  Some glide effortlessly across the pond half-submerged like ancient submarines. 

Snake-necked Anhingas fly from tree to tree, watching for breakfast below in the clear dark waters of the slough. We are lucky to see one swim by, searching for fish, then climbing up to perch on the handrail, spreading its wings to dry.

Several social turtles pig pile at the water’s edge to steal their share of the bright Everglades sun. In the distance, Great Egrets float across the sky looking for productive fishing spots, before sinking gracefully into tall grasses, out of sight except for the tops of their heads. Herons fish along the bank, keeping eyes peeled for darting fish destined to become a tasty lunch.

Stretching out on the boardwalk deck, we open our journals and begin to capture the slough and glades with our watercolors. Some of us begin to understand how to let watercolor guide our creativity, while others are still experimenting. Soon, we all begin to see our art take on the feel of the slough.  

During lunch, under the canopy of the Visitor Center, a ranger, who we recognize from a video we watched in preparation for our trip, shares his extensive knowledge about alligators.  We enjoy his personable style and depth of information.

Too soon, it’s time to head back to the hostel for dinner before setting off to Mahogany Hammock for Celestial Navigation with Captain Kyle who, when not volunteering with us, captains a cargo ship that trades between northern Europe and Canada. Part of his licensing requires him to demonstrate proficiency in celestial navigation, just as navigators have done for thousands of years before GPS…just in case. 

Kyle finds us a spot on the boardwalk where we can see the heavens and emerging stars as twilight falls.  We follow the path of the ecliptic, talking constellations, and stars. We find Polaris and begin to understand why it does not seem to rise and set like the other stars. Our fists teach us how to find our latitude, and we imagine what the sky would look like if we were back in Salem, or at the Equator.

We ask questions and talk about Orion and his dogs, Ursa Major and Ursa Minor, using Dubai & Mirach to point us to the North Star. The moon is mischievous tonight, casting too much light for us to see as many navigational stars as we would like, and the planets sleep tonight until just before dawn, when we, in turn, will be fast asleep.

Leslie, Barbara, & Kyle