Another of my childhood dreams realized: Explore the Florida Everglades. It was really not quite what I expected. My vision was one of swampy jungle and dangerous creatures at every turn. The reality is a slow-moving river flowing southward to the bay. More precisely [optional reading follows]:
The Everglades are a natural region of subtropical wetlands in the southern portion of the U.S. state of Florida, comprising the southern half of a large watershed. The system begins near Orlando with the Kissimmee River, which discharges into the vast but shallow Lake Okeechobee. Water leaving the lake in the wet season forms a slow-moving river 60 miles wide and over 100 miles long, flowing southward across a limestone shelf to Florida Bay at the southern end of the state.
Interesting factoid/question: Is the U.S. still at war with the Florida Seminole Indians? I read, a number of years ago, that a state of war "technically" existed, as no formal peace treaty had ever been signed by the Seminole Nation. Here's an update:
By May 10, 1842, when a frustrated President John Tyler ordered the end of military actions against the Seminoles, over $20 million had been spent, 1500 American soldiers had died and still no formal peace treaty had been signed. At that time, it marked the most costly military campaign in the young country's history. And it wasn't over yet. Thirteen years later, a U.S. Army survey party - seeking the whereabouts of Abiaka and other Seminole groups - was attacked by Seminole warriors under the command of the colorful Billy Bowlegs. The nation invested its entire reserve into the apprehension of the ambushers.
The eventual capture and deportation of Bowlegs ended aggressions between the Seminoles and the United States. Unlike their dealings with other Indian tribes, however, the U.S. government could not force a surrender from the Florida Seminoles. No chicanery, no offer of cattle, land, liquor or God, nothing could lure the last few from their perches of ambush deep in the wilderness. The U.S. declared the war ended--though no peace treaty was ever signed--and gave up.
The Florida survivors comprised at least two main factions--who remained isolated from Florida society and the rest of the world until well into the 20th century...long after most tribes had experienced assimilation, religious conversion and cultural annihilation.
Here are no lofty peaks seeking the sky, no mighty glaciers or rushing streams wearing away the uplifted land. Here is land, tranquil in its quiet beauty, serving not as the source of water, but as the last receiver of it. To its natural abundance we owe the spectacular plant and animal life that distinguishes this place from all others in our country. ~ President Harry S. Truman [address at the Dedication of Everglades National Park, December 6, 1947]