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Natural Wonders of Florida’s Great National and State Parks

Program Number: 20447RJ
Start and End Dates:
12/12/2014 - 12/19/2014; 1/23/2015 - 1/30/2015; 1/30/2015 - 2/6/2015; 3/27/2015 - 4/3/2015;
Duration: 7 nights
Location: Everglades National Park, Florida
Price starting at: $1,699.00 - Price may vary based on date, departure city
Program Type: On the Road; National Parks
Meals: 19; 7 Breakfasts, 6 Lunches, 6 Dinners    
Meal Options: Vegetarian; Gluten Free; Low Fat; Low Salt    

The subtropical wonders of South Florida amazed early visitors and naturalists, and today this patchwork of interconnected ecosystems remains one of the world’s most awe-inspiring landscapes. Explore the Fakahatchee Strand — the “Amazon of North America” — and participate in a wet hike in the Big Cypress. Enjoy a lecture about the restoration and wildlife recovery efforts that provide hope for the future.




Highlights

• Discover the story of the early pioneers of Southwest Florida’s “Last Frontier” at the Museum of the Everglades and the historic Smallwood Store.
• Explore the Audubon Society’s Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary, gateway to the Great Florida Birding Trail.
• Ride on a glass-bottom boat through John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park.



Activity Particulars

Walking on well-kept trails; some stairs. Participants will also take part in a wet hike.




Date Specific Information

12-12-2014, 1-23-2015, 1-30-2015, 3-27-2015

Enjoy the latest in hearing technology — listening devices — on this date.



Itinerary Summary

Arrival Miami Int'l Airport, coach to Everglades City, 3 nights; coach to Florida City, 4 nights; coach to Miami, departure.



Coordinated by Road Scholar.




Everglades City

Located on Florida’s southwest coast, Everglades City is the gateway to the Ten Thousand Island National Wildlife Refuge and Everglades National Park. Once a sleepy farming community growing sugarcane and bananas, Everglades City has been welcoming those who wish to explore the incredible wetland and coastal environments surrounding it for decades.



Miccosukee Island

Only able to be accessed by airboat, Miccosukee Island is the Everglades home to alligators, Great Blue Herons, Egrets, Woodstorks and Ibis. The island’s Seminole and Miccosukee history is rich and storied because families lived in harmony for generations despite what was considered by many to be unlivable landscape.



Florida

Florida City is situated at the eastern end of the only road that traverses Everglades National Park and is the last mainland community north of the Florida Keys. A popular stop for travelers en route to the Everglades or Key West, the city has a small but charming historic district.



Everglades National Park

The largest subtropical wilderness in the U.S. boasts rare and endangered species, such as the American crocodile, Florida panther and West Indian manatee. It has been designated an International Biosphere Reserve, a World Heritage Site and a Wetland of International Importance, in recognition of its significance to all the people of the world.



Accommodations
Charming Inn with swimming pool. Newly renovated, modern hotel with outdoor swimming pool.
Meals and Lodgings
   Ivey House
  Everglades City, FL 3 nights
   Best Western "Gateway to the Keys"
  Miami
Florida City, FL
4 nights
 Ivey House
Type: Bed and Breakfast
  Description: The Ivey House is TripAdvisor's #1 rated lodging facility in Everglades City and the Collier County's first "Certified Green Lodging" location. Rooms in the Inn surround a screened-in, beautifully landscaped courtyard with a tropical waterfall and heated swimming pool. The Ivey House Inn is a modern addition with eighteen rooms that adjoins the historic lodge. WiFi is available in public places. Free Parking.
  Contact info: 107 Camellia St
Everglades City, FL 34139 USA
phone: 239-695-3299
web: http://iveyhouse.com/index.php
  Room amenities: Cable TV Small refrigerator in each room air conditioning/heat Phone
  Smoking allowed: No
  Additional nights prior: $99-$229 Please contact the Ivey House for details. The Inn: $169-$179 The Lodge: $99 The lodge features basic accommodations with shared bathrooms The Cottage: $229 A two night minimum is required, full kitchen and separate living room Due to the high season, Road Scholar does not have a special rate for pre or post nights

 Best Western "Gateway to the Keys"
Type: Hotel
  Description: Stay at this newly renovated, 100% non-smoking Florida City, Florida hotel located adjacent to Homestead and close to attractions such as the Everglades National Park, the Florida Keys and Biscayne National Park. This Southern Florida area hotel features well-appointed guest rooms and suites, each equipped with cable satellite television and free high-speed Internet access. Hotel guests will enjoy an array of amenities , an outdoor swimming pool and hot tub
  Contact info: 411 S Krome Avenue
Florida City, FL 33034-4913 USA
phone: 305-246-5100
web: bestwesternflorida.com/hotels/best-western-gateway-to-the-keys
  Room amenities: Cable satellite television....Free local calls under 30 minutes....Microwave...Refrigerator....High-speed Internet access hard wired in every room.....Air-conditioning
  Smoking allowed: No
  Additional nights after: Discount based on availability Call Best Western directly (305) 246-5100 Mon through Fri 9-5 EST. Ask for Sonia Shelton and mention “Road Scholar” to make the reservations. Based on Availability.
  Check out time: 12:00 PM


Travel Details
  Start of Program:
3:00 pm You will be staying at Ivey House that night.
  End of Program:
10:00 am You will be staying at Best Western "Gateway to the Keys" the night before.
  Required documents:
The Road Scholar Health & Safety Form is required. Shuttle information form
  Parking availability:
Start and End at Different Locations
Transportation
To Start of Program
  Location:  Everglades City, FL
  From End of Program
  Location:  Florida City, FL
Travel Details
 

Miami Int'l Airport to Ivey House

 

From Airport

 
 

Service:

 

Commercial Van/Shuttle
phone: 617-521-5373
Advanced Reservations Required

 

Per Person/One Way:

 

Complimentary
Prices are subject to change.

 

Travel Time:

 

1 hour, 45 minutes 

 

Distance:

 

80 miles

   

Complimentary shuttle available for all participants arriving at Miami International Airport before 2:00 pm only. Out of consideration for the other participants we will not delay the departure time. Please complete the shuttle form in your program materials and return to Road Scholar at least two weeks prior to program start date.

 

From Best Western in Florida City to Miami International Airport

 

To Airport

 
 

Service:

 

Commercial Van/Shuttle
phone: 617-521-5373
Advanced Reservations Required

 

Per Person/One Way:

 

Complimentary
Prices are subject to change.

 

Travel Time:

 

40 mins 

 

Distance:

 

35 miles

   

Complimentary shuttle available for all participants departing Miami Airport. Please book your flights no earlier than 1:00 pm on the last day of the program.

 

Miami Int'l Airport to Ivey House

 

From Airport

 
 

Service:

 

Taxi
Airport Express
phone: 239-961-7100
Advanced Reservations Required

 

Per Person/One Way:

 

$200 for 1-4 people
Prices are subject to change.

 

Travel Time:

 

1 hour, 45 minutes 

 

Distance:

 

80 miles

   

This is the least expensive transfer service from Miami Airport to Everglades City. I urge you to make your air travel arrangements so that you can take advantage of the 2pm complimentary shuttle departure.

 

Fort Myers Airport to the Ivey House

 

From Airport

 
 

Service:

 

Taxi
Airport Express
phone: 239-961-7100
Advanced Reservations Required

 

Per Person/One Way:

 

$100 for 1-4 people
Prices are subject to change.

 

Travel Time:

 

1 hour, 20 minutes 

 

Distance:

 

70 miles

 
Driving Directions
  From Best Western Florida City to Miami International Airport Head north on US-1. Continue onto Fl-874 N. Continue onto Fl-826. Take the exit onto Fl-836 E. Take the FL-953 N exit toward Le Jeune Rd/Coral Gables. Follow NW 21st St to the airport. Distance: approx. 35 miles, travel time approx 45 minutes depending on traffic.
  From Miami International Airport to the Ivey House West on Fl-836/Dolphin Expressway. Follow signs for Florida Turnpike S. Follow US-41/Tamiami Trail/8th St. Turn left onto County Rd 29. Turn right onto Begonia St. Take the first left on Buckner Ave. The Ivey House will be on the right. Distance approx. 80 miles, travel time approx. 1 hour and 45 minutes depending on traffic
  From Southwest Florida International Airport (Ft Myers) to Ivey House Head West on Daniels Pkwy. Take I-75 S toward Naples. Take exit 80 onto Fl-29 S. Continue onto County Rd 29. Turn right onto Begonia St. Take the first left on Buckner Ave. The Ivey House will be on the right. Distance approx 70 miles, travel time approx. 1hour and 20 minutes depending on traffic
The prices listed for commercial services and facilities that are not included in the program cost, such as airport shuttles or extra nights lodging, are subject to change without notice. Since Road Scholar cannot guarantee the accuracy of these prices, we strongly suggest contacting the companies directly for the most up-to-date information.


Daily Schedule

Day 1: Arrival and Check-in, Program Registration, Welcome Dinner, Orientation
(Friday, January 30)
   
 Afternoon: Hotel Check-in: Available from 4:00pm-5:00pm.

Program Registration: After you have your room assignment, come over to the Road Scholar desk in the lobby to pick up your arrival packet containing your name tag, the up-to-date schedule, and to confirm the time of the orientation session.

Please be aware that program activities and scheduled times could change due to local circumstances. In the event of changes, we will alert you as quickly as possible. Thank you for your understanding.

 Dinner: At a local restaurant.
 Evening: Orientation: The Group Leader (who is also a Study Leader) will greet you with a warm welcome and introduce everyone. We will review the up-to-date daily schedule and any changes, discuss responsibilities, safety guidelines, emergency procedures, and answer any questions you may have.

Take the rest of the evening to settle in, relax, and prepare for the full day ahead.

   
Accommodations: Ivey House
Meals Included: Dinner

Day 2: Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary, The Fakahatchee
(Saturday, January 31)

Note: Walking up to 4 miles today on wooden boardwalks



   
 Breakfast: Our breakfast at the hotel offers a selection of hot and cold items including fresh fruit plus coffee and tea.
 Morning: We hop aboard the motorcoach and head for Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary. Back aboard the motorcoach, a naturalist guide will provide commentary then lead us around parts of this 14,000-acre sanctuary managed by the National Audubon Society manages to maintain native plants and animals and to preserve the natural processes that have been occurring for thousands of years. A 2.25-mile raised boardwalk takes you through several distinct habitats including the largest remaining virgin bald cypress forest in North America. Wildlife commonly resident at different times of the year include birds from Anhinga to woodpeckers, butterflies, frogs and other amphibians, mammals from squirrels to bears, and reptiles such as alligators, lizards, snakes, and turtles.
 Lunch: Enjoy a picnic lunch in the sanctuary.
 Afternoon: We transfer to Fakahatchee Strand State Preserve for a presentation and expert-led walk via Big Cypress Bend Boardwalk. With its dense, enveloping tropical foliage, the Fakahatchee more closely resembles Jurassic Park than a South Florida ecosystem. This beautiful, remote road offers an excellent opportunity for viewing Florida’s flora and fauna in its wildest display.
 Dinner: We will dine out at one of the area’s most popular seafood restaurants to enjoy a 3-course meal with appetizer, choice of entrée, and dessert.
 Evening: At leisure. Talk over the highlights of the day with new Road Scholar friends, or simply enjoy some R&R.
   
Accommodations: Ivey House
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 3: Museum of the Everglades, Swamp Walk
(Sunday, February 1)

Note: For those who wish to participate in the wet hike please wear long pants, hat, old tennis shoes or closed toed water shoes and bring a complete change of clothes, because you will get wet!



   
 Breakfast: At the hotel.
 Morning: Walk to the Museum of the Everglades. Located here in historic Everglades City, the museum is devoted to displaying local history from early Native American times to the present as well as exhibits of works by local and regional artists. A ride on the motorcoach take us to The 10,000 Islands. Though the name is misleading -- there are actually several hundred islands, islets, and high spots -- they are rich in natural and human history. Aboard a boat, we wind through these islands to watch for dolphins, manatees, wading birds, and raptors. The 10,000 Islands have been witness to powerful Indian nations, Spanish shipwrecks, pirates, and murderous outlaws -- still considered the wildest, most unknown place in America and an example of time uninterrupted.
 Lunch: Choose from a select menu of salads and sandwiches at the island café.
 Afternoon: Return to the Ivey House and depart on a swamp walk with a naturalist guide. Learn why conservationists have described this area as "a beautiful, rugged, subtropical landscape."
 Dinner: On your own. Suggestions will be provided.
 Evening: It has been an active day. Relax, recharge your batteries, and prepare for a full day tomorrow beginning with early morning check-out and departure.
   
Accommodations: Ivey House
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch

Day 4: Characters, Pioneers and 10,000 Islands, Shark Valley
(Monday, February 2)
   
 Breakfast: At the hotel.
 Morning: After early check-out, we board the motorcoach for the 10,000 Islands. Though the name is misleading -- there are actually several hundred islands, islets, and high spots -- they are rich in natural and human history. Aboard a boat, we wind through these islands to watch for dolphins, manatees, wading birds, and raptors. The 10,000 Islands have been witness to powerful Indian nations, Spanish shipwrecks, pirates, and murderous outlaws -- still considered the wildest, most unknown place in America and an example of time uninterrupted.
 Lunch: Enjoy a box lunch.
 Afternoon: After lunch we will continue traveling East through the everglades to Shark Valley section of Everglades National Park. During a ride in an open-air tram the guide will share “hidden” aspects of the ecosystem that help make the Everglades a world-renowned wetland. We will have an opportunity at the half-way point of the tram ride, to see tranquil vistas of the park from a 45-foot-high observation deck, with views extending 20 miles in all directions. A gradual ramp provides access to the tower and each deck offers a chance to view something different. After the field trip, we arrive at the hotel and check-in with some time to freshen up before dinner.
 Dinner: Dinner in Florida City.
 Evening: At leisure.
   
Accommodations: Best Western "Gateway to the Keys"
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 5: Biscayne National Park
(Tuesday, February 3)
   
 Breakfast: At the hotel.
 Morning: The motorcoach take us to R.F. Orchids in Homestead. This third-generation family enterprise has become one of the most highly respected orchid-growing operations in the South. We will have a guided look through the house and see thousands of exotic orchids growing in a hammock-like setting accented with gazebos, ponds, tiki huts, and lush landscaping.
 Lunch: Sandwiches in the Tea Room.
 Afternoon: A comfortable ride aboard our motorcoach take us to the Dante Fascell Visitor Center of Biscayne National Park. You can take a virtual journey through the park's four ecosystems via dioramas, audio, and video. In the auditorium, we will view "Spectrum of Life," a short film presentation on the park's natural wonders. Our Group Leader-Study Leader-Naturalist will provide commentary as we drive through the park.
 Dinner: Dinner at a Florida City Restaurant.
 Evening: At leisure.
   
Accommodations: Best Western "Gateway to the Keys"
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 6: Key Largo and America's First Undersea Park
(Wednesday, February 4)
   
 Breakfast: At the hotel.
 Morning: A ride to Key Largo brings us to the headquarters of REEF, the Reef Environmental Education Foundation. A presentation presents the work of this grass roots environmental education foundation that seeks to conserve marine ecosystems by educating, enlisting and enabling divers and other marine enthusiasts to become active ocean stewards and citizen scientists.
 Lunch: We ride on to John Pennekamp State Park for a box lunch on the premises.
 Afternoon: Take a glass-bottom boat ride for a nautical excursion into John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park, the only undersea state park in the continential U. S with a fully-intact coral reef consisting of many varieties and species of living coral. John Pennekamp is a Florida treasure.
 Dinner: At a local restaurant in Key Largo.
 Evening: At leisure.
   
Accommodations: Best Western "Gateway to the Keys"
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 7: Everglades National Park
(Thursday, February 5)
   
 Breakfast: At the hotel.
 Morning: The motorcoach takes us to begin our morning at the Ernest F. Coe Visitors Center at the Main Entrance of Everglades National Park. The center has a giant diorama with life-size replicas of Everglades denizens on the prowl. A comfortable theater offers an informative film on the Everglades. During your self-guided walk, you can see thought-provoking exhibits.
 Lunch: We will ride to the Long Pine Key picnic area a few miles from the Visitors Center for a picnic lunch.
 Afternoon: We are off to hike at the famous Anhinga Trail at the Royal Palm area of Everglades National Park. Follow the trails and boardwalks to get a close-up view of wild gators, turtles, Roseate Spoonbills, and abounding varieties of wading birds and aquatic species. The Anhinga Trail was so beautiful and indicative of the Everglades that a group of women petitioned for its protection as a state park in the early 20th Century. This state park was the genesis of Everglades National Park, dedicated in 1947.
 Dinner: At a local restaurant.
 Evening: At leisure.
   
Accommodations: Best Western "Gateway to the Keys"
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 8: Wrap-Up Session on Marjory Stoneman Douglas, Program Concludes
(Friday, February 6)
   
 Breakfast: At the hotel.
 Morning: We wrap up with a presentation on Marjory Stoneman Douglas, her activism, and her influential book “The Everglades: River of Grass” that redefined this national treasure in the public imagination. The program concludes with this final presentation.We hope you have enjoyed discovering the natural wonders of Florida’s great national and state parks, and will return for other rewarding Road Scholar learning adventures in the future. Please stay in touch and share your memories, pictures, and comments via the Road Scholar Social Network. Best wishes for all your journeys!

The transfer to Miami International Airport departs at 11:00am.

   
Meals Included: Breakfast
Important information about your itinerary: Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and completeness of the information featured on this website. Itineraries are based on our best information at this time. Circumstances beyond our control may require us to adjust itineraries or other details. We regret any inconvenience this may cause and appreciate your understanding. Information will be sent to you from your Program Provider approximately three weeks prior to the program start date. The prices listed for commercial services and facilities that are not included in the program cost, such as airport shuttles or extra nights lodging, are subject to change without notice. Since Road Scholar cannot guarantee the accuracy of these prices, we strongly suggest contacting the companies directly for the most up-to-date information.

Suggested Reading List


The Everglades a River of Grass


Author: Marjory Stoneman Douglass


Description: Originally published in 1947, The Everglades was one of those rare books, like Uncle Tom's Cabin and Silent Spring, to have an immediate political effect: it helped draw public attention to a vast and little-known area that South Florida developers had deemed a worthless swamp and were busily draining, damming, and remaking, and it mustered needed public support for President Harry Truman's controversial order, later that year, to protect more than 2 million acres as Everglades National Park.



Florida Magnificent Wilderness: State Lands, Parks, and Natural Areas


Author: James Valentine


Description: Many years in the making, Florida Magnificent Wilderness is a special visual journey through some of the most precious wild areas in the state, presenting the breathtaking beauty preserved in state lands, parks, and natural areas. World-famous nature photographer James Valentine has used his camera to record environmental art images of the states remote wilderness places, spectacular sites too often missed by Floridas visitors and residents. Valentine also offers his poetic interpretations of the meaning of his images.



The Swamp: The Everglades, Florida, and the Politics of Paradise


Author: Michael Grunwald


Description: The Everglades was once reviled as a liquid wasteland, and Americans dreamed of draining it. Now it is revered as a national treasure, and Americans have launched the largest environmental project in history to try to save it. The Swamp is the stunning story of the destruction and possible resurrection of the Everglades, the saga of man's abuse of nature in southern Florida and his unprecedented efforts to make amends. Michael Grunwald, a prize-winning national reporter for The Washington Post, takes readers on a riveting journey from the Ice Ages to the present, illuminating the natural, social and political history of one of America's most beguiling but least understood patches of land. The Everglades was America's last frontier, a wild country long after the West was won. Grunwald chronicles how a series of visionaries tried to drain and "reclaim" it, and how Mother Nature refused to bend to their will; in the most harrowing tale, a 1928 hurricane drowned 2,500 people in the Everglades. But the Army Corps of Engineers finally tamed the beast with levees and canals, converting half the Everglades into sprawling suburbs and sugar plantations. And though the southern Everglades was preserved as a national park, it soon deteriorated into an ecological mess. The River of Grass stopped flowing, and 90 percent of its wading birds vanished. Now America wants its swamp back. Grunwald shows how a new breed of visionaries transformed Everglades politics, producing the $8 billion rescue plan. That plan is already the blueprint for a new worldwide era of ecosystem restoration. And this book is a cautionary tale for that era. Through gripping narrative and dogged reporting, Grunwald shows how the Everglades is still threatened by the same hubris, greed and well-intentioned folly that led to its decline.



Coral Castle: The Story of Ed Leedskalnin and his American Stonehenge


Author: Rusty McClure and Jack Heffron


Description: Coral Castle is the first book to take an objective, journalistic look at one of America's most intriguing places Coral Castle, located in Homestead, Florida. Edward Leedskalnin, an eccentric Latvian immigrant, built Coral Castle in the 1920s and 30s. Working alone with primitive tools, he quarried, carved, and set in place more than 1,100 tons of coral rock, creating what is commonly known as the American Stonehenge. How he accomplished this amazing feat remains a mystery. Some believe he was simply a talented stonemason and engineer. Many others believe he had somehow harnessed anti-gravity powers. Several books have been written on Ed's otherworldly powers and he has become a cult figure to those who believe in extra-terrestrials and the magnetic grid theory. In Coral Castle, Rusty McClure and Jack Heffron survey the theories and tell the story through journalistic investigation and interviews with experts on all sides of the argument.



Florida's Indians from Ancient Times to the Present


Author: Jerald T. Milanich


Description: When the first Indians arrived in what is now Florida, they wrested their livelihood from a land far different from the modern countryside, one that was cooler, drier, and almost twice the size. Thousands of years later European explorers encountered literally hundreds of different Indian groups living in every part of the state. (Today every Florida county contains an Indian archaeological site.) The arrival of colonists brought the native peoples a new world and great changes took place--by the mid-1700s, through warfare, slave raids, and especially epidemics, the population was almost annihilated. Other Indians soon moved into the state, including Creeks from Georgia and Alabama, who were the ancestors of the modern Seminole and Miccosukee Indians. Written for a general audience, this book is lavishly illustrated with full-color drawings and photographs. It skillfully integrates the latest archaeological and historical information about the Sunshine State's Native Americans, connecting the past and present with modern place-names, and it gives a proud voice to Floridas rich Indian heritage.





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