W3 Book Club - “Swamplandia”

by Teri E. Popp & Laura Chin, Tastemakers in Residence

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All things crocodilian gave W3 Book Club a theme for their yearly travel trip featuring “Swamplandia”, a novel by Floridian writer Karen Russell. Set in a run-down alligator wrestling park, this book deals with topics such as family ties and loyalty, the history of the Florida Everglades, commercialization, teens coming of age, the loss of innocence, and maybe a ghost or two.

We started off our adventure by visiting one of the many alligator parks located just outside of Everglades City in the Big Cypress National Preserve—Wooten’s. Home to thousands of alligators and other reptilian species, the Everglades offers numerous opportunities to view gators, snakes, lizards, birds, and the occasional bear or Florida panther.

In addition to airboat rides through the Everglades, visitors to Wooten’s can take a swamp buggy ride through the Cypress Forest. Knowledgeable guides explain this vulnerable eco-system, the Native American tribes that populate the area, and the animal and bird life that abound in the area.

We capped off our visit to Wooten’s with an alligator “wrestling” demonstration to give us the full “Swamplandia” experience!

Watch this YouTube Alligator wrestling video from Wooten's.

On our way back to the house on Marco Island where we stayed, we stopped to enjoy lunch at City Seafood Restaurant in Everglades City. It gave us all a chance to try Gator Bites—deep fried pieces of alligator. 

We finished off our day swimming, sitting by the pool and enjoying takeout BBQ from Michelbob’s, a local Naples area restaurant and take out place. Yum!!

We spent one day celebrating the birthday of one of our W3 Book Club ladies at the Naples Botanical Gardens and ended our day with a great dinner!