Bucket List Dreams Do Come True

Karla Locke
5 min readDec 12, 2021


An Airboat Ride — a trip of a lifetime

As a little girl, I waited anxiously each week for the next episode of FLIPPER. Living in the dry climate of Denver, an ocean and dolphins were more magical to me than the Magic Kingdom.

I was also fascinated with the boat that Ranger Porter Ricks drove around on. I remember thinking, “I want to ride on one of those someday.”

As we reach adulthood, many of us often find our childhood dreams fading into the background as “real” life demands so much of us. I had forgotten that memory of wanting to ride on an Airboat until we bought Betty Jo (the Airstream) and made Florida a destination. I immediately put it on the Bucket List and made it a top-of-the-list priority.

I knew I wanted the “experience” of being on an Airboat, not a quick tourist ride around a small part of the Everglades. I searched and located (thanks to KYD) a company committed to providing their customers with an experience — not just a ride. Their tours are catered as private tours. Their mission is to invite you to discover the beauty and the nature of the Everglades and absorb its beauty. There are no “touristy” shows, no crowded boats — just you and nature — the way it was intended.

Our guide gave a bit of history during our ride, which was quite informative. He is the sixth generation in the area and was passionate about the Everglades and introducing people to it.

We picked the company, Down South Airboat Tours, because of their personalized service and because they also have access to parts of the Everglades than most of the others in the area. It was worth every penny.

My dream, as a little girl, was to go for a ride on a boat. As an adult, the ride was more than the thrill of skimming along the water on a fast boat. The natural beauty our guide introduced us to was beyond anything I could have imagined. I was mesmerized and thoughtful and reminded of what this earth truly has to offer — and how much we need to respect and appreciate it.

Our Mission
Our tours are not your everyday tour, it’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience! Our goal is to give you a safe and enjoyable ride that you can say was an experience you will never forget. We achieve this by showing you the freshwater side of the Everglades, also known as “The River of Grass”. We are the only tour company that operates in this part of the Everglades. We have two-way communication headsets, just like the kind you would find in a helicopter. This allows us to narrate your tour while we continue to travel. We strive to show you the Everglades the way we see it as a local growing up in this area. We want you to say OUR tour was the highlight of your vacation. Down South Airboat Tours

I cannot begin to express how amazing our trip was. Words cannot always describe the moment, the authenticity of the experience. The photos we captured with our cameras do it some justice, but does not exactly express the emotions tumbling through us.

It was a dream that became reality — worth the years of waiting. I enjoyed it more now than I would have as a child. I know I certainly appreciate it more now than I would have as a child.

I was surprised by the diversity of the area — from grass to forest to swampland. And by its beauty and my reaction to it.

The Florida Everglades is a slow-moving river (the River of Grass) — 60 miles wide and over 100 miles long.

The Everglades is an intricate system of subtropical wetlands, lakes, and rivers, originally covering more than 4,000 square miles (10,000 square kilometers) from Lake Okeechobee to the southern tip of Florida. However, due to development, the Everglades has been reduced to less than half of that size,

While sometimes thought of like a giant swamp, the Everglades is technically a very slow-moving, shallow river. Because sawgrass marsh dominates this river, it was traditionally called the “River of Grass.” In fact, Native Americans living in the area called it Pahayokee, meaning the “grassy waters.

The Everglades: River of Grass

It was more than a ride on an Airboat — it was a history lesson, a deep appreciation for the area and its diverse offerings to the world, and a memory to be treasured for many years to come.

When we started this journey with Betty Jo (the Airstream) we knew there were a few places we wanted to visit, but as the journey unfolded, so did the dreams of where to next. We did not start with a Bucket List — it just evolved and keeps evolving — as does the journey.

Safe travels to all, and may you find your Bucket List dreams do come true.



Karla Locke

My creative self needs an outlet, I do this with writing and photography and the occasional thought and opinion.