The spring I was 6 years old my parents drove to Florida to visit my grandfather, a perennial snowbird, and to show us the Everglades. Long before the rockets at Cape Canaveral and long before the explosion of development in the sleepy village of Kissimmee, the central portion of the Florida panhandle was ruled by the flow from Lake Okeechobee.
During the wet season, a shallow river fifty miles wide and a hundred miles long flows south to the Gulf of Mexico. This is the Everglades with 1.4-million-acres preserved as Everglades National Park. An International Biosphere Preserve and World Heritage Site well known for it wildlife, including roseate spoonbills, bald eagles, osprey, peregrine falcons, snowy and great egrets, herons, white ibis, anhinga, and flamingos, the park is also home to manatees, green sea and loggerhead turtles, bear, deer, alligators, crocodiles, and the Florida panther.
Alligator Alley or US Route 41 runs north of the Park from Miami on the east to Naples on the west. Canals that have been dug over the past 150 years to channel the natural flow of the water parallel the roadway.
At that time the Miccosukee Tribe of Seminole Indians lived in villages that were visible from the highway. Today, the people live in more secluded settings and the Miccosukee Indian Village, 30 minutes west of the Florida Turnpike, provides a setting that can educate about the rich culture, lifestyle and history of the Tribe.