First, a disclaimer: the picture of monster-gator was not taken by us! That's the picture that was in circulation in email-forwards after the hurricane - according to some Reliable Source that gator was swimming around New Orleans after the storm. Anyway, because of this picture, we decided to stay away from the Everglades for a while - who knows what was out there???
Then it turned out that gator is actually in the Congo, not in Florida, which somehow made us feel safe heading out into the swamp. So, today we did!!! We went on a 5.5 mile trail, where we saw 10 gators! The part you see in the picture is an inlet in what they call a "wet prairie," but the farther you go out, the more swampish it gets. We saw the sword-reeds which are serrated and kind of clang together, and swamp ash, and all kinds of animals like herons, ibises, turtles, snakes, snails, fish, ducks, and of course the forementioned gators.
Matt even touched one!!! In retrospect we decided it was very crazy, maybe a fever-induced decision from the hot baking sun, I don't know. But he reached out his hand and touched a little baby gator, who I think was playing dead until that moment. Did he ever bolt then!!! We tried to stay away from the big ones, which is kind of hard given how narrow the trail is. It's so creepy when they slink under water and you don't know where they've gone! Anyway, we made it back in one piece and are really excited to go back!