Everglades National Park, Florida, USA

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Chokoloskee, Florida

Flag of United States  , Florida
Thursday, July 1, 2010

Captain Judy Caseley is a licensed boat captain who lives on the tiny island of Chokoloskee in the midst of Everglades National Park. Judy Caseley provides customized boat tours in the beautiful and enchanting Ten Thousand Islands!  Captain Judy Caseley is a professional nature and wildlife photographer who enjoys capturing the world around her on film.  Check out Captain Judy Caseley's Everglades photography and consider looking her up while vacationing in the Everglades for an adventure of a lifetime.  Enjoy Everglades bird watching, Everglades sightseeing, Everglades eco tours, Everglades shelling, Everglades camping, Everglades photography, Everglades eco tours and more while on board this Everglades area tour. You won't be sorry!  Her website is www.focusontheeverglades.com or contact Judy ar 239-695-2929.
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Janet Meeker on

Captain Judy Caseley is an exceptional and dedicated boat tour captain in the Everglades
National Park. Every year my family visits Naples, Florida and we book Captain Judy
Caseley for her private charter. Her boat tours are like no other. Each time we have
vacationed in the Naples, Captain Judy Caseley has taken us on unique individualized
Everglades tours throufghout the 10,000 Islands for an adventure of a lifetime. We have
seen birds that we would never have been able to get up close to and photograph without
her guidance. Captain Judy Caseley is a professional photographer and is very
knowledgeable on lighting and knowing just where to go for unique photo opportunities. A
former school teacher, Judy always knows how to keep my children involved and interested
and they are never bored. Capt. Judy knows her history too! We have visited remote
islands once inhabited by Calusa Native American Indians as well as early pioneers of the
Everglades Area. Having taught local history as well as her extensive research into the
Everglades history, it is fascinating to hear stories of "days gone by." Her
boat is also very comfortable, especially for families. She has a beautiful luxury deck
boat and is always generous to provide all the essentials we need for our day out on the
water. I highly recommend Captain Judy Caseley - Everglades Area Boat Tours - to
"Focus on the Everglades" with an experience licensed boat captain!

Sue Newman on

Booking a trip with Judy is completely unparralleled. She has a true passion not only for wild life, but her knowledge of the rich history both inside and outside of the park is incredible
Nothng like the normal scripted boat ride, she won't just tell you about the wild life, she will take you up close, yet always respecting your surroundings.
Can't wait to for my next trip..

Bob Schmalzbach on

I have had the great fortune to have been able to go out on tour with Captain Judy. It has been many years and I still have wonderful memories from that trip. The area is wonderful and the sea life is extrodinary! If you ever get the chance to go and see all this for yourself, I would strongly recomend it!

Leslie Deniz on

I recently visited the Everglades National Park and had the pleasure of going on a Everglades photography bird watching boat tour with Captain Judy Caseley. My family and I photographed egrets, spoonbills, herons, everglades kites, osprey, terns, and even a bald eagle. The dolphins jumping behind Captain Judy Caseley's boat were incredible. We even saw a manatee. Captain Judy's historical knowledge of the Everglades area was extensive. We even visited Calusa Indian mounds in the Everglades National Park. It was so much fun my family and I are planning an Everglades camping trip in Ten Thousand Islands with Captain Judy Caseley. You will not be disappointed if you hire Captain Judy Caseley for an Everglades National Park private custom boat tour

Alla Gower on

The Everglades Florida July 30th 2010 Written by Alla Gower

Richard Googled the route but did not tell us where we were headed until we were approaching Everglades City. He just kept driving until signs advertising alligators began to appear along the roadway. It made sense now- the Gravol Anita suggested I take before we set out this morning. Nausea pill to sight see Marcos Island? Did she maybe think that seeing opulent mansions would make me sick? Little did we suspect the big surprise Richard had planned for our 50th wedding anniversary: a boat tour in the Everglades with Captain Judy Caseley.

He chartered the boat on line way back in Toronto and there it was in Chokoloskee Bay - a 25 footer with a huge motor and anchor equipped for shallow waters and the waves of the Gulf of Mexico and Ct. Judy at the wheel with a camera around her neck.

The Everglades is no Congo or the jungles in the heart of Africa or the Amazon forests as I once imagined. We did not head into the swampy interior where alligators are found; we sailed for the thousands of islands in the Everglades National Park and the open Gulf waters. Judy showed us a map to give us an idea of the infinite number of islands and shoals- all named, and accounted for.

It is difficult to say where the fresh and salt waters meet in that kind of geography she said when I asked her. Eventually I could taste the salt from the spray on my lips. Our destination was to the mangroves that were nesting and breeding grounds for the big birds: pelicans, great blue and white herons and osprey as well as the roseate spoon bills. Snap, snap, snap went our cameras as we sailed from one island to another. It did not take long for Richard to spot the first group of dolphins- one fin cutting after another through the waves. Ct. Judy shifted into higher gear and tapped the floor with a long wooden spear and the dolphins responded to the vibrations and played peek- a boo- with us. In and out, in and out, they are too quick for the camera so we took images of them to store in the eyes' memory. Endless islands, endless sandy beaches, endless green mangroves and Judy's interesting stories- too much for the mind to absorb.

What surprised me was that all this watery landscape and space were for our eyes only or so it seemed. We saw just one patrol boat and a cruiser or two later on. Tourism was way down because of the economy, plus the BP oil spill in the Gulf and perhaps also because of the season. Who goes to Florida in July to escape the oppressive heat in Toronto only to walk into a heat wave of 100 degrees plus humidity down there? But the Everglades were a shot of nature and cooler waters with a breeze, mangroves, blue sky, sandy shores of numerous uninhabited islands. Another fleeting peak experience indeed, among many we had this week. Images to feast our eyes on, images not found in my real world.

Matthew had his own peak experience when Cp. Judy sat him on her knee and allowed him to do the steering. She has had a lot of experience with young children having had been a school teacher before going into the tourism industry. She is no native to Florida however, by her accent we suspected and she confirmed that she was from the Boston area. As she piloted the boat she told us some of the Everglades history. All the islands now are uninhabited but during the prohibition the bootleggers found the islands a safe haven to hide from the cops. Other criminal activities took place here but nowadays only park rangers, tour guides and registered campers and fisherman are found in these waters and campgrounds.

Around noon we came to an island larger than most called Pavilion Key- a remote island of sandy white shores full of sea shells- ours for the taking. Judy put down the anchor and let down the ladder and we went exploring and collecting sea- shells to our heart's content. The shells that I kept at one time had live creatures in them but now are empty and cast out by the sea. I walked with my head down for fear of missing some treasure at my feet. Here I found an uninhabited horse shoe crab shell- mature adult size and a baby one too. Pre-historic in looks. Anita, Richard and Matthew were way ahead of us letting us walk at our own pace and collect various varieties of shells that we did not have at our own beach or on Sanibel Island. Walking on the sand in bare feet in relative solitude felt like having our own private " island in the sun". I thought of Harry Bellefonte singing that song. "Hum Brian", I said to my husband.

By mid afternoon it was time to head back. Richard pulled out another surprise-as if by magic a bottle of champagne appeared to toast our special day. Little did we imagine 50 years ago that this perfect day would be ours to enjoy especially here under the bright sun and waters of the Everglades. So what if we had no glasses. Richard emptied some plastic water bottles, used some tool to cut them in half and then poured the champagne for one and all and we raised our glasses and Matthew his can of pop. Anita made sandwiches which hit the spot. A picnic to remember on a boat under fluffy white clouds in a blue sky in the midst of the Everglades and no other people in sight. What more would anyone want. Another moment to treasure, as it too will not last.

Boat owners and tourist guides like Captain Judy are as reliant on tourism as the industry is reliant on oil. This is a huge dilemma at this time for the wildlife and for the people who make a living in this area. The environment and wild species suffer but the tourist experience brings us in contact with nature. Awareness counts and makes us think.

What a special getaway to remember. Fifty years ago neither Brian nor I could have in our wildest dreams imagined such a day or been able to appreciate it as much.

Where have they gone those fifty years? But this is hardly the time to review our life story. There's the immediate moment to enjoy and the evening ahead to ponder. What am I going to wear to the dinner tonight?
July 30th 2010

Dinner is at Nervous Nellie's in Fort Myers. We are all deeply tanned and dressed in our casual best. The menu is huge, as are the servings and drinks.
Our order includes: Mac and cheese for Nicholas and Matthew. Chicken nuggets for Christie. A sea food dish for Lisa. Fresh oysters for Richard. A pasta dish for Anita. Phil orders a 24 oz. steak. (Yes, that size.) Brian wants steak and fries. And I crave beef liver with onions and gravy of which I've been deprived all these years as Brian and the girls did not like it. In the heat and humidity I've even developed a taste for beer out of the bottle. As they say, it's never too late to learn (or pick bad habits).

The view is spectacular: palm trees, sparkling water, boats anchored in the bay and a bridge that takes you to Sanibel Island. We hear a band playing for those who chose to eat outdoors. Strings of coloured lights light up the patio. Young and old and many families are out for dinner this Friday night.

We sit at one long table, all 9 of us, three generations held together by a marriage that took place half a century ago. As we eat, drink and toast the occasion, I think of the continuity of time, how the past, present and the future somehow connect through a man and woman who fifty years ago stood side by side and said "I do." Two people and now there are nine. Life IS miraculous.

This is one of those once in a lifetime occasions where our whole nuclear family is on vacation together. The moment comes when we raise our glasses and drink in the scene that will never come again. A rare moment when I do not worry, or care what time it is, or have anxieties about driving home in the dark.

After dinner Phil goes all out with his camera snapping more photos to remember the moments sprinkled with magic this week.

Then we walk the main street, we go to the pier, we keep an eye on the kids in the souvenir shops. Near midnight we call it a day and head to our villa on Ft. Myers Beach. Our last night here at 5960 Estero Blvd.FL. Tomorrow we fly back home: Toronto, Brampton and Kingston Ontario.

There will be plenty of time to reflect on the past 50 years. There will be time to treasure this week. The images and the memories will be ours to keep.
And as for the treasures we found at the beach, I will put the sea shells in a glass bowl on the kitchen table and think of them as symbols of beauty, continuity, and a struggle for life that will endure beyond our time.

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