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Everglades with a Houseboat Rivers 105-113 Just West of Miami

A 40’ foot aluminum houseboat was our weekend getaway for my husband, Michael’s, birthday. In taking the back roads, we made it into the Everglades National Park eastern entrance outside of Florida City in about 4.5 hours from our front door. With our son and his buddy, Ryan, driving separately from us in my car, we paid $35 per vehicle upon entry then drove another 40 minutes to get to Flamingo Adventures. It is the southernmost tip of Florida’s Everglades civilization with an array of offerings for activities and lodging.

Once loaded and a whole lot of rules and paper signing, we were on our way. A captain helped usher us to the Coot Bay, where another smaller boat followed behind. As we approached the middle of the bay, the captain hopped off onto the other boat and we were left to our own devices equipped with 15 gallons of backup fuel and big goals of hitting 7 rivers.

With the wind at our faces, we made it all the way into the large Whitewater Bay and veered to the west to hit the Joe River before nightfall our #114. The two massive anchors at the helm of the houseboat weighed a ton, yet once they hooked in the shallow waters of the water’s bottom; it was time to relax and prep for dinner. The tiny, round grill was on the back of the boat where the teens hung out. So, Charles, our son oversaw the grilling the burgers and hot dogs for our first night’s dinner.  We shut off the generator and opened the windows, played a few hands of cards and fished a bit after dinner. Soon, the sun began to set and hundreds of bugs, way out in the middle of the bay, swarmed upon us! We all hustled to combat them and close the windows; what a lesson we learned.

Next morning it looked as if a massacre of sorts had occurred. Thankfully, the sun was shining and the goal to circle the bay and hit the mouth of each of the other six rivers kept us outside on the porches. At multiple spots throughout the day, we were guided by beautiful dolphin that enjoyed our company so much, they brought friends. It was incredible to witness up close and for long periods intervals. Halfway through the day, Charles grilled chicken thighs for sandwiches; they were delicious. In fact, we have decided to leave our boy in charge of the grill whenever he wants as we continue our family’s mission of going down each river in Florida.  With perseverance, we hit all the rivers on our list and strategically anchored out to put ourselves as close to the mouth of the bay as possible for an easy departure the next morning.

Good news, we learned from our mistake the night prior and had all the windows closed and generator back on prior to nightfall. The boy’s fished a bit while the grownups played Bananagrams and listened to music. With the waves from the water, we all slept well and enjoyed a leisure morning prior to tool back to Coot Bay for pickup. Flamingo Adventures was running late for the captain to bring us in by more than an hour, we felt lucky to have enough gas to get back. Captain Nick jumped onboard and topped us off with the bit of fuel left for the generator, he was a fun character to end the trip. Clearly a man who enjoys maritime adventures and full sun, he even shared a story how he saved a man from his small sailboat that had capsized and was crocodile bait, never a dull moment in the Everglades!

Headed home we took the Turnpike and I95, big shout out to Pawprints in Vero for staying open a bit longer for us to bring home our dog. Charles helped ensure he was picked up by 3:30pm and his buddy, Ryan was able to be home in time for dinner too. Dad and I stopped off at Trader Joes’ off the Turnpike and grabbed a pizza from Anthony’s Coal Fired Pizza to share; perfect ending to a wonderful trip adding checkmarks to rivers 105-113.

Happy River Roamin'!


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