The Everglades

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A view of the Everglades from the boardwalk at Kirby Storter Roadside Park

The Everglades is a 1.5 million acre swath of wetlands in Southern Florida. There are two main highways that cut through the preserve – the Tamiami (Tampa to Miami) and I-75 (Alligator Alley). Tamiami is generally considered the more touristic way to see the sites, as there are several stops with walking paths along the way. It’s easy to see alligators most times of year and there are tons of bird species as well. My favorite walking path was at the Kirby Storter Roadside Park as it was a bit quieter and more secluded than the other areas. If you’re feeling particularly adventurous, there are also extended walking trails for longer camping trips.

The little town of Ochopee is a nice stop along the way if you’re doing a road trip. You can see the smallest post office in the United States and grab lunch at Joanie’s Blue Crab, a divey local joint with lots of fried seafood on offer.

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Morikami Japanese Gardens

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Morikami Japanese Gardens

The Morikami Museum & Japanese Gardens is located in Delray Beach, FL and is a nice spot to relax and experience some nature. The gardens are lovely and the museum features work by Japanese artists. There is also an exhibit for children about traditional life in a Japanese home and also a variety of different types of gardens, showing how zen gardens have evolved. If you are so inclined, you can feed the koi fish in the pond as well. Try to go on a weekday when it’s not so crowded so you can get the full peaceful benefit of the environment.

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Hiking Enchanted Rock

A tree growing from the top of Enchanted Rock

A tree growing from the top of Enchanted Rock

My final day of my mini Texas road trip I headed out to Enchanted Rock, a giant granite dome near Fredricksburg. It was a bit of a further drive from Austin than I had anticipated, but the countryside was lovely and the destination completely worth it.

The hike reminded me a bit of Uluru, though geologically speaking the structures aren’t alike.  There were lots of geckos and lizards darting around, tons of desert flora to admire and an indigenous history stretching back thousands of years. I hiked to the top of the rock, then around the base to get a full view.

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Hiking the Organ Pipes at Mt. Wellington

The view of the Organ Pipes on Mt. Wellington near Hobart, Tasmania

The view of the Organ Pipes on Mt. Wellington near Hobart, Tasmania

Just a short drive from Hobart’s CBD is Mt. Wellington, which, like most of Tasmania, is filled with short walking tracks. I did the 3 hour Organ Pipes loop, which is fairly steep and rocky but worth the trek for the views of Hobart and the surroundings. Despite being so close to the city, the area was mostly empty on a Tuesday afternoon save for a French family and a British couple.

The walk is filled with beautiful flowers and sneaky skinks. I also saw a pretty cool black and red spider and some interesting birds. The actual Organ Pipes, which are columns of dolerite, are magnificent, though you need rock climbing gear to get really close to them.

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Cataract Gorge and Tamar Island

A black snake on Tamar Island

A black snake on Tamar Island

I got to Launceston in time for Festivale, where I got to sample local wines and watch some great street performers and musical acts. I hadn’t heard of the event in advance, so it was a nice surprise and a welcome break from the hiking and sightseeing I’d been doing.

Upon leaving Tasmania’s second largest city I stopped by two local natural wonders – the Cataract Gorge and Tamar Island. Like everywhere else in Tasmania, the sights are well set up for visitors with clear and safe walking tracks loaded with wildlife. There is also a lot of historical elements to these sights and you can learn about the lives of early Tasmanian settlers.

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