Ten members of a Minneapolis book club made the trek from their chilly city to sunny Florida to bring the best selling book they had just read—The Orchid Thief by Susan Orlean—to life.
“We read the book and last night we watched Adaptation, the movie based on it. Now we’re ready to see the swamp ourselves,” said Kathie Doerr, who organized the trip. The group, on a tight schedule, arranged a custom tour on the Friends of Fakahatchee Ghost Rider tram.
Naturalist Patrick Higgins, who led the three hour tour, told the group that orchid and bromeliad poaching—the subject of the 1998 book—was still an issue at Fakahatchee Strand Preserve State Park. “There’s no gate to lock and more than 85,000 acres to patrol, so it remains a big problem,” he explained. Higgins said that with financial help from the Friends of Fakahatchee, the park was working to restore several orchid species that had once flourished in the park.
After the three hour tour, several members of the group said they were surprised by the marshlands and meadows in the park. “We had expected a real jungle everywhere,” said one. Perhaps their biggest surprise was that the swamp was “ a really beautiful place,” not “scary and gothic” like the New York City based author’s description had lead them to believe.
For a schedule of Friends of Fakahatchee tours, click on “tours and events” atwww.orchidswamp.org. To discuss a custom tour for a group of ten or more, call 239.695.1023.