Brian and Lynn Tonkin's seven week vacation tour commencing 13th March 2010

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Leaving Key West we drive back north along the Florida Keys island peninsula heading for Naples (in Florida, not Italy). Our friends Katalin and Richard have recommended a visit to Naples claiming that it must be almost the most perfect place to live in America. It's a mighty big claim and so we've decided to put it to the test.

We've chosen a driving route from Key West to Naples which will take us smack bang though the Florida Everglades. After a few hours we're in the middle of the everglades and begin to see advertising signs offering everglade tours in those airboat thingies you've seen in the movies.

Because we're running late and want to get to Naples before dark we pass up the first few opportunities to ride an airboat. However, eventually good sense prevails and we stop beside a canal where a Miccosukee Indian family is offering an airboat tour. The price is acceptable and we're soon on our way complete with ear muffs to reduce the scream of the aircraft engine.

Ear muffs in place and ready to go.
An American Indian

Takes us for a spin on a

Florida Everglades airboat



Our airboat skipper.... or pilot???

These airboats really move. At forty miles per hour we're skimming over everglade swamp grasses, channels and picturesque lagoons or billabongs with the water grasses whipping the sides of the hull. Yet it's all so smooth. It really does feel like we are floating across the scenery in the air.

Lynn gets up close and personal with baby alligator

No way we're about to fool around with this sucker

After a while Indian John takes us to his camp on a tiny island in the middle of a lagoon. This is where he has his dock, overnight cabin and campfire enclosure. It's also where he's breeding a few alligators. He introduces us to alligator Mum and her children. With a bit of coaxing from me Lynn agrees to foolishly pick up a few of the critters to give me a few photo opportunities.

Rushing through everglade grasses at 40 miles per hour

We encounter small lagoons with fish, tortoises and gators

Indian John.... a real everglades airboat pilot

And now here's the impostor and his good wife!!

We were really sorry when our tour ended because it was so exhilarating just whizzing along through the everglades at such speed and smoothness on the incredibly powerful and fast machine.

Later in the afternoon we finally reached the small city of Naples were we have booked a self contained apartment within a lovely complex in the Naples Bay Resort. We stop by a supermarket for supplies and it's both large and extremely classy. As we drive further into Naples we can see that all the local property is high class and set amidst beautiful and well maintained lawns and gardens. The streets themselves are equally pretty and carefully maintained. This really is one classy town as our friends had claimed.

The local Naples Yacht Club was an impeccable little jewel

Naples Bay Resort looked like a small portion of Tuscany

We've never been to Naples but the way this place in designed and decorated it sure looks like a piece of Tuscany. Of course we didn't see any canals when we were in Tuscany. Maybe Naples Italy looks like a cross between Tuscany and Venice but maybe someone more knowledgeable on this point than ourselves can set us straight. Notwithstanding the facts of such matters, we can certainly vouch for Naples Florida as a superbly attractive town and no doubt a great place to live. No graffiti and no lowlife in evidence. Just sheer perfection wherever one looked.

This is the great view from our apartment windows

Why did they call it Naples when is looks like Tuscany?

And so....
We're now almost finished with Florida and the next page of our website will deal with Nevada, Arizona and Utah. We'll try to pick up the pace and get it to you soon.