“What do you do for fun down there?” That’s usually one of the responses I get when I tell someone I live in Everglades City. As easy as this question can be, it always tends to stump me and really makes me stop to think, what do I actually do for fun here? Unlike larger cities having movie theaters to sit in, malls to shop and zoos to view, we have something even better. Living by the water.
The feeling of heading out on the boat into the Ten Thousand Islands is like no other. Driving through the Barron River at a minimum wake, passing by homes and small businesses on the left, mangroves galore to the right. Finally turning the corner where the mouth of the river begins and straight ahead of you is nothing but open water with mangrove islands in the distance. I anticipate every time I see the minimum wake sign in the water, because I know when we pass it we can rev the engine and fly along the water.
When our speed picks up, I close my eyes as my face begins to be kissed by the salty air. My long brown hair flowing behind me, whipping while the sun creates gold tones causing it to glow. I lift my face towards the sun above, smiling as the warmth causes me to get a tingly feeling throughout my body and in my heart. I quickly snap my head direction to the left towards Chokoloskee, the small island connected to Everglades City. Seeing in the distance tiny houses where I know some of my closest friends and family reside, wondering if they are looking out their window and recognize our boat passing by.
I look beside me at my mother who is laying on her back with a hat shielding her face from the UV rays, then behind me at my father driving the boat. His short black hair blown back by the wind, he smiles from ear to ear when he notices me looking. Behind him getting farther away from us is my beautiful home town that I cherish so dearly. My dad points ahead of us and as I turn to the direction I see dolphins swimming, roseate spoonbills flying above us, and mullet sailing through the air near the mangroves. On this boat and in this moment, I feel like I’m in my own little dream world. Except it’s even better, because it’s all real.
I could never fully express in words all the emotions and feelings of gliding through a mangrove paradise in the Ten Thousand Islands. Once you get the chance to experience it yourself, you’d truly understand how happy the heart and mind becomes.
University of Florida student Savannah Oglesby has lived in Everglades City her entire life. A lover of nature; some of her favorite things are sunsets, night lightning and mountains. She enjoys adventures and spending time with family, friends and two orange tabby cats. She also enjoys travelling, taking photos of nature, learning about extreme weather and seeing the world in different perspectives. Savannah’s love for Everglades City, and its history, is endless.