It occurred to me that not everyone might  be interested in the total wilderness experience and that perhaps something a little less off the beaten path was in order.
 Fortunately, Fort Lauderdale has several good places to go canoeing where you can still see the natural side of Florida without having to venture far from civilization.
  West Lake behind Dania Beach and near by John Loyde Park  are some of the best. the two places can be combined for a pleasant 1/2 day trip.
 Recently the kids and I were looking for something to do and having done the extreme wild alligator thing days before I decided it might be nice to try something else .
 We over slept and missed sunrise but still managed to make it to the water before 8am. I slid into my secret no cost hidden parking place that i had found years earlier. It's right by the intracoastal and other kayakers and canoeist have been using it for years.
  The tide was ripping in and the logical thing to do would be to use it to our advantage, cross the intracoastal and venture up into West Lake. Of course we didn't do that.I decided to go against the tide ( not the first time in my life) but I had a plan.
  Alexander and I paddled hard for a short distance but then took a sharp right and slid into the calmer waters of a near by marina. From there you can continue on and enter John Loyde Park (avoiding the entry fee) and you are suddenly transported back in time . It's the type of coastal marine estuary that would have been common place back in the day. If not for the occasional jet airplane and the distant sound of city traffic you would think you were in the wild.
 Against the tide it was like paddling up river but we were in no hurry. I asked Tabby to snap some photos and we slowly made our way along enjoying the herons and egrets that would pop up and take flight as we approached.
  Loyde Park has a rich history. Way back even before my day (if you can imagine such a thing) it was the beach unofficially reserved for African Americans. apparently it wasn't good enough for Whites which is insane because it's the nicest thing around. Back when I first started visiting the park it was abundant with Australian Pine trees. These are beautiful shade trees that whisper in the wind and seemed like one of the nicest features of the park. Unfortunately they are not native and destroy the environment for mangrove. There was a big project to eradicate most of them and return the area to a more natural state. A few years ago it seemed like the park had been destroyed but I have to say it's very nice now. The mangrove are thick an abundant and the wild sea oats and sea grape trees along the beach are wonderful. A job well done by someone.
  The kids and I found a place along the canal edge to pull over (careful not to destroy any young mangrove) and hiked our way a short distance to the beach. It was beautiful. The ocean was exceptionally blue today and the warm sun felt good in the cool morning air. We felt very isolated and only saw two other people along the lonely stretch of beach.
  After our typical breakfast of Frosted Flakes, Honey buns and OJ the kids ran around the beach while i sipped my espresso and enjoyed the day.
  Returning to the canoe we continued on until we came to the opening that leads back to the real intracoastal . They have a nice concession here were you can rent canoes and kayaks and get something to eat. The kids and I stopped for ice cream. (yes we were having a sugar buzz moment) .
  Back in the intracoastal you are suddenly faced with Port Everglades and its giant ships. Not exactly pristine wilderness but interesting non the less. There is also a lot of boat traffic and it's good to be mindful of the wakes.
 We traveled back south along the shore then crossed to the other side and past a few rusty old freighters before entering another back water channel and suddenly we were surrounded by mother nature again. The kids and I stopped to stretch our legs and found an old road way that wound it way for maybe 1/3 of a mile. You can really see how the Australian Pines can take over. There was lots of trash about. We even found an old car and I'm sure more than one homeless person  had spent some time here.
  Back in the canoe we ventured up the canal to West Lake. This is truly a jewel of Fort Lauderdale (Dania). Smack dab in the middle of the city is this mangrove lined lake that's home to Osprey and other birds. No motors are allowed so it's a great place for canoes kayaks etc.
  The kids and I found one the shallow canals that cuts through back to the  intracoastal . We crossed a line of buoys put in place to keep tourist in the park ( living dangerous) and worked our way back to the truck.
 All in all this is a very pleasant trip. I would recommend it to anyone looking for a fun morning. Great if your new to canoeing  or limited in your time. Call me. I've got everything we need including the espresso.