All eight of us had spent the morning of November 19, 2016 kayaking in Biscayne Bay and in the mangrove estuaries along its mainland shores. Now it was time for a picnic lunch at Convoy Point. Our time at Biscayne National Park, having only just begun, was also drawing short. And that meant that our whole Florida Keys adventure would soon be concluding.
Looking north from Convoy Point, Miami rose from the ocean like Atlantis.
Biscayne National Park was established in 1980 and protects almost 173,000 acres of the northernmost Florida Keys, coastal Florida south of Miami, and the expanse of Biscayne Bay. It is in good company with Dry Tortugas, Glacier Bay, American Samoa, and Channel Islands as a National Park whose primary function is to protect nautical resources and habitat. Biscayne Bay was originally proposed for protection in the 1940s as part of Everglades National Park, but it was ultimately eliminated from that Park’s boundaries. The mainland areas and keys of Biscayne Bay remained largely undeveloped until the 1960s when proposals emerged to extend the hyper-development of Miami Beach to the Biscayne keys. A proposal to dredge the bay to create a deep-sea port on the mainland activated intense grassroots opposition. In 1968, that opposition led to the establishment by Congress of Biscayne National Monument, which was expanded and upgraded in 1980 to National Park status.
For several years before our visit on November 19, 2016, Biscayne National Park had lacked an official concessionaire. For decades, official partners had offered glass-bottomed boat tours and other activities for exploring the Park. By last November, limited tours were again being offered, but not on a day that made sense for our trip. Lacking a private boat, let alone one in Florida, we focused our day at Biscayne on kayaking.
Thursday, September 3 was sunny at Glacier Bay National Park. It was the second sunny day in a row after some six weeks of clouds and drizzle, according to the staff at the lodge.
Back in early July, while we had been planning this portion of the trip while sitting on a veranda in southern Wisconsin, I’d turned to Sean and asked which of our two full days at Glacier Bay did he want to do a half-day paddle and which did he want to do our full-day boat tour. He’d replied that we should do the paddle the morning of our first full day. Now that we were actually here, his instinct could not have served us better. The forecast was for it to be sunny and warm on Thursday, and the drizzle was supposed to return on Friday.
It was sheer luck, but we’d be paddling Bartlett Cove’s waters while they were completely calm and shimmering in the sunshine.