02/23/19 Flamingo-Everglades, FL

DAY #126

Today I thought I would take a closer look at the park.  First, I went down to the water to check that out.  Not the soft white sand beaches that have come to expect from Florida.  It looks like the tide was out and the bottom appeared to be mucky and not very inviting, but hey, the views were still stunning. 

There aren’t any beaches per se around the park (at least that I could find).  It looks like the park was made for camping by tent in mind.  They have two dedicated areas for tent camping and a huge area by the water where tent camping is allowed.

 Next, it was off to the park facilities located approx. one mile from the campground.  They have a marina, and small store that I found charges abhorrent prices.  I bought two hot dogs (they were Nathans) and a Diet Coke, the cost, $11.45!  The hot dogs were $4.25 each!  Now I realize that we’re off the main grid, but c’mon, were not that far off.  

I liked how all the buildings are painted a pastel pink.  The main visitors center is closed due to damage caused by Hurricane Irma (replaced by a double wide trailer), as is the former gas station. 

Signs indicate the center should be reopening by 2021, and you can still buy gas at the marina.  Based on my experience, I Wonder what gas costs per gallon, almost afraid to find out.  I understand that the concessions are contracted out and they need to make a profit, but the prices they’re charging are in my opinion, damn near robbery. After all, it’s only a one-hour drive to bring supplies in, it’s not that far.

Left the park center and down the road I continued.  Lot of side stops along the main highway through the park and I thought I’d check at least some of them out (the easy ones). First couple of stops were so-so, and then I made a stop that had a 1.6-mile trail, and a wet and mucky one at that. 

Just outside my range.

Being as hot and humid as it was, and given that my feet were hurting more and more with each step, I decided to alter my plans, shelf the trail, and head back to the trailer, I needed to get my socks and shoes off and just sit with my feet in the air, which is just what I did.  I had downloaded from Kindle a book about the Reconstruction period of the U.S. after the Civil War (easy reading-not!), so I thought I could start reading that.

Later, I took the truck up to the park entrance (gee you mean you didn’t walk?  How come?)  so I could connect to the internet, but I left my shoes and socks behind and drove barefoot.  It felt so much better with no shoes on, but still, I knew something was not normal, far from it.

I have to say that the day ended on a down note.  The discomfort and concern from the sunburn began to take center stage with each step I took.  I didn’t want to admit it but it’s going to take some time to recuperate from my foolish and embarrassing encounter with the sun.

02/22/19 Flamingo-Everglades. FL

DAY #125

First full day in the everglades and it started early.  The heat and humidity in the trailer were getting to me and I didn’t sleep that well, so up around 8:00 am and putzed around.

One of the things I did was to get the chaise lounge out of the back of the truck, set it up, and lounge around for a while.  I set it up in the shade and with the accompanying breeze, it was so nice, one would say, tropical.  It was so nice, I fell asleep.  When I woke up four hours later, the shade was gone and had been replaced by the sun.  Man, my face and legs/feet were burned, this was not good.

Than to add insult to injury, I decided to arch my back before getting up, you know stretching first.  While, that didn’t turn out to be such a good idea, when I arched, the chair tipped backward, bringing me to the ground, then tipping on its side, wrapping me in it.  As I comically struggled to free myself while still in a heat/humidity induced, just woke up stupor, I remembered thinking, what’s going on (that’s the stupor)? and then, hope no one is seeing this.  Not only was it embarrassing, it was definitely not the correct way to get up from a chaise lounge. 

After the bad acrobatics show, went in to put on some socks and long pants, I know, kind of like shutting the barn door after the horse has got out, but wanted to not do any more damage than already done.  My face felt OK, as did my legs. I was most concerned about the feet, they looked ruby red and were already starting to burn. 

Surprisingly, my attitude remained good.

After (gingerly) putting on shoes, socks, and pants, I headed off through the park to my destination.  Coming into the Everglades, I had gone past what looked like a fruit stand on steroids called “Robert is Here” and they advertised along with their fruits, having these great fruit milkshakes, and it was really busy so I thought that must be the ‘go to’ place for shakes. Got there and again it was busy.  It was an interesting place, and there really is a guy named Robert, I saw him working the counter. It seemed like any kind of fruit grown in the area you could find here (and even some that weren’t).  It was fun looking over the different fruits offered, some I had never seen or only heard of.  As I said, it was busy and took about 15 minutes to get my shake.  I ordered the key lime-strawberry and was looking forward to it.  I was impressed how the cups used for the shakes were a corn based biodegradable product, something more places should be using.  

 Unfortunately, I was a bit disappointed.  I appreciated the no added sugar to the milkshake.  I thought the strawberry would give it the sweetness needed, I knew for sure the key lime wasn’t going to add any. Alas, the flavor was overwhelmingly key lime and a bit stringent, if only the strawberry flavor had come through.  Sometimes you hit a home run, and other times you strike out. I wouldn’t say this was a complete flop, more like a solid double.

From there, checked out the local Walmart (funny, they all seem alike) and headed back to camp.  I had a feeling the sun burn on the feet and legs were going to be a problem over the next several days, something I wasn’t looking forward to.

02/21/19 Naples-Flamingo Everglades.

DAY #124

Up by 9:00 am and getting ready to pick up stakes once again.  I’m so fortunate that nothing went wrong during my time here (fingers crossed).  The truck ran super, even after putting about a zillion miles on it, and driving it under all kinds of conditions. It didn’t take long for the miles to add up, given the campground was so far away from anything.   Since leaving on October 19, 2018, I’ve put 10,000 miles on the truck, 7000 of those from driving around while the trailer was at the campsite.

Putting the generator in the back of the truck I thought; I’ve used the generator for over 100 hours so far this trip and other than adding gas, it’s run flawlessly, I couldn’t ask for more. 

The trailer has held up remarkably well so far in the journey.  I was concerned after reading about people’s horror stories on a Facebook group.  They make it sound like every trailer is little more than junk, and nothing works, or everything brakes, and the trailers are constantly in the shop, yada, yada, yada.  Everything is working as well as can be expected and serving me quite well.  It’s a nice little home away from home. (now watch, the next blog will be me crying about all my bad luck and how unfair it is).

One area that I’ve recently had a concern about, the batteries.  After getting a full charge, they will only last about 12 hours before the board in the fridge (which requires a current) stops and the fridge turns off.  They appear to be draining faster than maybe they should be. I’ll have to do some checking,

Getting the trailer ready for towing and yeow, it is humid out.  I’m sweating like a pig (I know, they don’t really sweat) and it’s not even 10 am.  Todays a long run compared to recent moves.  Should be on the road about four hours, destination; Flamingo-Everglades National Park.

Over half of the way there, I took roads that had been on before.  This helped make the drive feel not so long and besides, it was so scenic and enjoyable.  I got a kick out of a sign about midway through the drive across the northern part of the everglades letting us know we were now in Miami-Dade County.  I didn’t realize how big the county is, it’s huge. 

I didn’t get the same kick when I stopped for gas (just to top of) early in the drive, and found gas was 70 cents a gallon more than in Naples, 20 miles away.  In Naples it was 2.29 per gallon, and there it was $2.99, lousy bandits!     After crossing the northern part of the everglades, the path led south.  The area outside and alongside the everglades is agricultural and heavily Hispanic.  You see a lot of small-scale nursery’s growing plants that people will use in landscaping their yard, now I know where all the tropical plants come from, well, at least the ones from the USA.  There also a lot of produce grown around these parts, most of its large scale.


Made it to Florida City, the gateway to the everglades.  It looks to be a working-class town with lots of Hispanic and African Americans (at least the part of town I was in). I kind of miss the old white folks (being facetious).  Followed the farm roads (per google) and arrived at the entrance of the park with time to spare (huh?). Once there, I still had 38 miles to go before getting to the campground, talk about a big park. I found the road through the park to be in nice condition, smooth pavement the whole way and 55mph for most of it.  The area is so open that you feel at times (when no other cars are around) that it’s just you alone in this big ole world, it’s really a neat feeling.

The weather was quite warm and very, very humid, almost sticky, as some would say.  I was tempted to break down and put the A/C on in the truck and trailer. But then I wondered, would I have to use it all the time to be comfortable?  Would it make it twice as bad when not using it?   The temperature and humidity were still tolerable for now, and I wanted to see how long I could go without using the A/C.

It took about 45 minutes driving through the park before reaching Flamingo-Everglades, home for the next ten days.  I checked in, and off to the site I went. 

Before setting up, I stopped and emptied the black & grey water tanks and filled the fresh water tank.  The campsite is a pull through, so it made getting in easy.   Setting up the rest of the trailer has become routine, and everything went off without a hitch.

Good things about the site/campground;

  • It has electric and the bathrooms/showers are right across the road.
  • The sites are good size and provide some space, even if it’s mostly open.
  • Has a dump site on the premises so you don’t have to travel with all that yuk sloshing around.
  • One of the cheapest places I’ve stayed.

Not so good things about the site/campground;

  • Showers are cold water only. (although with as hot and humid as it is, that might not be a bad thing).
  • No OTA TV stations.
  • No Cell reception.
  • It is a long drive into and out of the park.

I’ve downloaded a couple books on Kindle which I have on my tablet, so I can use the time I would have been watching TV or being on the internet (because there isn’t any!!!) to further expand my mind, yea, let’s go with that.

Not much shade provided by this tree.

Took a shower (it is so nice to have) and called it a day.

02/20/19 Naples, FL.

DAY #123

Got up early today, like 7:45 early, and was out the trailer door by 8:15.  The plan was to take a 40’ Catamaran out into the gulf for three hours.  It had been too long away from the water, I was excited to get my ocean fix (bad comparison?).

The starting point was on Isles of Capri, which is a group of three small islands across from Marco Island.  The cost was $65.00 and included beer, wine, soda, water, plus fruit.  A bit expensive perhaps, but I’m not going to nickel and dime it when It’s something I want to do, provided it doesn’t become foolish. Leaving the State Forest, I took the back-road exit, and you know what? it gets easier the more you drive it. It’s a slower, bouncier, work harder at driving, way to get somewhere, but the feeling of solitude and accomplishment it gives you makes it so worth it.  It’s just plain fun driving through the woods where no one else is around (does that make me anti-social?).

  Got to the place to get the boat and there were already about 15 people waiting to board the boat.  It looked to be one large group and three other couples.  I was the only single guy, except for a couple of teenagers who were with the large group.   We all got on the boat, taking our shoes off first so we wouldn’t slip and finding a seat, while the captain explained the do’s and don’ts.  It was a nice boat and the guys handling it seemed to know what they were doing.  Even though there were quite a few of us aboard, it didn’t feel crowded and having these other people around made it somewhat fun (what?).  The large couple were from the Boston area and had (for me) a very pronounce accent, it was fun listening to them.  I was a little concerned about a couple of the older guys, they were hitting the bottle pretty good and early, last thing I wanted was some loud mouthed, back bay, so and so’s, causing trouble.  Gee, I’m not stereotyping them, am I?

Away from the dock and out into the channel we go.  It’s a beautiful morning.  The sun’s out and there’s a nice breeze, not too much. The temperature is already in the mid-70s.  Up ahead, I can see the channel opening into the bay and from there, the gulf. 

As were making our way out towards the gulf, you can see the Isles of Capri on one side and Marco Island on the other.  It really is a moneyed area that’s for sure.  Beautiful homes, boats, cars.  Hey if it were offered to me, I’d take it, at least for a while. (a long while).  Since that’s not going to happen, I’ll have to continue portraying myself as progressive-socialist to justify my disdain of the lifestyle.  In all seriousness, if people work hard, save and invest wisely, and play by the rules, and then choose to live this lifestyle, I say go for it, and enjoy every second of it you’ve certainly earned it.  I can tell you this from experience, there are no free rides in life, you get out of it what you put in.  Now, that may not be always true, but it still is, the rule rather than the exception.   My-My I seem to be quite chatty tonight don’t I.  

The mainland & islands faded away and ahead of us, water as far as the horizon, we were out in the Gulf of Mexico and it was beautiful.  I had stumbled my way from inside the boat to the front, it afforded me a sweet view.  Seeing the ocean gives me much the same excitement as I get when driving through the back-roads of a State Forest.  It’s so big, so wide open, so devoid of things.  Kind of like looking at Gods handiwork through his eyes, rather than mans. (oh yea, that’s heavy).

When we reached the waters of the Gulf, the Captain put up the sails and turned the motor off.  The wind had come up and it was the perfect fuel for us to do some sailing. 

Walking around the front of the boat was kind of tricky. Odd angles, nothing to grab on to, made me look kind of silly (and not very cool, I always must look cool and in control) when I tried to get up and move closer to the front edge of the boat to take some pictures.  In addition to the angles and lack of holding on to anything, the area between the two hulls was like a trampoline without the bounce and walking on it as the boats bobbing up and down, well let’s just say it wasn’t pretty (and probably quite funny to the two teenage boys on the boat). 

Because of the sudden and unexpected changes in the weather, the Captain brought us back closer to the islands in hope of calmer waters.  It was a bit of a disappointment to come back towards land, I was really digging the ocean vibes, but it was certainly understandable, and sometimes you just got to roll with the flow (which I do so well.  Though, I did do OK today).

As were coming back in towards the island and back to the starting point.  I noticed one of the old guys who had been drinking heavy earlier had gone from the cabin to the front of the boat.  Man, I thought I looked bad stumbling around, at least he had an excuse, because he was juiced.  The other guy who had also been drinking earlier was looking like he was ready to be counted out as well.  Why would you get that intoxicated, sad, just sad to see.

Upon returning to the dock we collected our shoes, paid our bill, and we were on our way.  Was it worth it? Was it worth the cost of admission?  I think for the two old guys that needed to be helped off the boat, they got a good deal, what with all they drank.  For the rest of us, I think it was a bit expensive for what it delivered.  Oh well, really doesn’t matter anymore does it.  It was an enjoyable time and that’s what I’ll remember.

How could I top going out into the Gulf of Mexico in a 40’ Catamaran?  I know, I’ll go over the bridge to Marco Island, and do some laundry.  On google I found a small laundry right off the main avenue and popped in to do laundry.  The place was clean, prices very reasonable and overall, my best laundromat experience I’ve had so far on the journey.  While waiting for my clothes to dry, I went down a few shops to a restaurant.  I needed a decent meal, the fast food joints just weren’t doing it anymore (that is, if you could find one).  The service sucked but the food was good, plus I sat outside which made for a satisfying meal.  Maybe I was too quick to criticize Marco Island?

Last day in the Naples area.  I’ve liked the campground where I’ve stayed.  It was a bit out of the way for most things, but it provided a scenic, trouble free, enjoyable stay.  I liked driving down the abandon roads, seeing where for once nature wins, and man loses.

I didn’t get into Naples proper and I guess I’m ok with that.  After a while, the communities and residences, country clubs, etc., start to all look alike.  Only the facades are different.

Everglades City and Big Cypress National Preserve, along with the State Preserves made for a great backdrop for some memorable experiences, I really enjoyed the time there to play in the woods given.

I don’t know if I would put this area on the top of my list.  In my view, it’s gotten too developed and it’s only going to get worse in the years ahead.  It’s great having the State Forests and Preserves, along with the National Refuge and Preserves, along with the entrance to the Everglades as a buffer. For me, those are the highlights of this area and score high on the ratings.  It’s all the development that’s taken place and continuing to take place that lowers the final score for me. 

Next, it’s off to the Everglades.

02/19/19 Naples, FL.

DAY #122

Today, the agenda included going over to Marco Island to see if an old friend was down, then on to Everglades City, and Big Cypress National Preserve.

I started out from the campground by taking one of the back ways out of the State Forest. It took about forty five minutes to go twelve miles. It’s a slower way to go that’s for sure, but you can’t beat the views.

Coming off the road out of the Forest, came across a small Citrus Operation. So cool to see, you go less than a mile further down, and its Florida 2019, in all its shiny, glitzy, glamour. The grove, in its rural surroundings is a step back to a simpler time.

The grove.

From the grove, I turned onto a major through-way (Collier Blvd), and made my way to Marco Island. One thing I’m noticing around Naples (suburbs), is the lack of fast food places. You’ll see an occasional McDonald’s, but not a lot of others. It can be a bummer when you have no microwave, and are too lazy to actually cook. I’m kind of talking out of both sides of my mouth here, First, I’m ranting about fast food joints and how they destroy the culture, and then bitch because they’re not enough of them. Oh, the hypocrisy!

Coming across the bridge onto Marco Island gave me a great view, and a first impression. My gut feeling was; I’m not into this. I’d forgotten how ugly the beachfront hi-rise condos and resorts can be. Driving down the main street and around the island, I was amazed at the amount of traffic. Man it was bad, and this was on a Tuesday around 11:30 am.

Another observation, the density of development on the island. This place hasn’t left any stone upturned when it comes to building. It almost has an “American Dream” theme park feel to it (I think I’ve used that description before, oh well, it works here too). I guess I find it too crowded, and a bit sterile for my taste.

Now in all fairness, while this may not be the place for me, I can see its allure. It’s fresh and crisp, and everything works. It feels new and has an upscale vibe to it. The style and color choices of the houses give it a “South Florida” feel, and the houses will wow you, again and again.

A modest Marco Island home.

Found the address for my friend’s house and thanks to google map, made my way to their house, and what a nice house it is, I’m envious. Knocked on the door but no answer. Later, I was able to contact them and found out they were not down there yet. I missed them by a few days. One good thing came from stopping. Now I know where to go if I ever become destitute.

Leaving Marco Island and crossing the bridge back to the mainland, I pulled over and got some nice photos of the area.

Just think how lush this must look in summer.
That’s Marco Island in the background.

Next, down to Everglades City, and Chokoloskee, FL.

While Everglades City (Chokoloskee) is only 45 miles away from Marco Island by car, it felt like a lifetime removed from the hustle and bustle of the Island.

On Marco Island, I saw a community where everything is in its place, organized and arranged, oh just so.  The tastefully ornate houses with their manicured yards and canals in their backyard.  On Marco Island, everything looked and felt new.  It also felt two dimensional, and sterile, lacking in any real culture (other than consumerism).  To me Marco Island is less a home, and more a destination (kind of rough, aren’t you?).

Everglades City (Chokoloskee) on the other hand, had the look and feel of a place not yet discovered by the great migrating herd of ‘Snow Birds’.  Its houses are singular and unique in design, modest in build, and maybe even a bit shabby. 

The place had a feel of a past to it, and it looked like it could use a good straightening up.  The canals weren’t an amenity in someone’s back yard, it was a working canal, where people put in after a day of fishing for stone crabs.  

 Everglades City feels a bit worn and lived in. It feels like it’s a place you could stay forever, not just for a week, month, or season.  Everglades City has a history and a soul, and from it, a culture.

Noticing that the Florida landscape has a sameness to its looks.
This was here when nothing else was.

I really liked Everglade City and Chokoloskee.  It gave me an “Old Florida” feel in a part of the state where that vibe is getting weaker and weaker.

Got back on the Tamiami Trail (U.S. 41) and set the directional finder (me) to Big Cypress National Preserve.  It was a bit of a drive, further than I had anticipated.  I think I drove almost halfway to the next campsite.  The plan was to drive the highway (U.S. 41) one way and take the loop road back.  Made it the first way. It was a nice drive if perhaps a Ntlittle sedate.  Then, I took the loop back.  It starts out as a paved road that looks to bordered by homes inhabited by Seminole Indians.  All the houses were of the same design, newish, and nice.  After a couple of miles, the road turned to dirt and civilization disappeared.  The loop runs for approx. 20 miles through the preserve and allows you an intimate look at the land around you.  I must admit, I enjoyed the ride back through the loop a whole lot more than the first part (and I enjoyed the first part).  I saw a lot of birds and alligators up close and personal, you can’t get that view from the highway.

No short cut route back to the campsite tonight. Took the asphalt roads and ended the day by taking a shower. It’s been so humid (dew points in low 70s), It was so fantastic that the shower worked, Now I am thankful, and clean.

Note: Today was the hottest on record (for this date), and the first time, it has reached 90 degrees in Naples in February.

02/18/19 Naples, FL.

DAY #121

Today was just plain hot, like 85 degree temperature, and 70 degree dew point hot. It’s the hottest day I’ve experienced so far in the journey. I’m not complaining, hey if this is how it is, then I’ll adapt, its worth it. I’m usually not a big fan of the wind, but having it breezy today it made a big (positive) difference. I need to learn to take the good with the bad.

Hung out around the trailer and watched court TV shows, along with doing some web surfing. I was multi-tasking, yea that sounds good, lets go with that, sounds like I did something. One thing about the heat & humidity, it really sucks the energy out of you, and when, like me, have little energy to start with, well…

The person next to me left, so now I have some more room. Decent enough guy who I actually spent some time talking with, but he sure was close, especially since its a pretty big area. There’s a number of people who appear to be staying here on a permanent basis. The rules say 14 day maximum. I wonder how they get away with it, especially with the administration building right on the grounds. The person staying in the trailer to my left must work around Naples, staying here during the week, and going home on weekends. The trailer on the right looks like it’s settled in for the long haul as well, and down on the other end of the campground, there’s a family with five kids living in tents. I guess I’m OK with it as long as it doesn’t prevent others from getting a camp site. Not trying to be, or sound judgmental, but a lot of these folks appear to be on the low end of the achievement ladder, and If I were to stereotype them, it would be as ‘trailer park trash” (ouch, so much for not judgmental).

I did a little reconnaissance looking for a third way of getting into and out of the Forest. I found what I was looking for, and may try it tomorrow although it’s supposed to be even hotter than today.

This place is such an impressive area just in its shear size alone. If you want to be on your own, this is the place to come.

02/17/19 Naples, FL.

DAY #120

The current home away from home.

Started out the day by doing some horseback riding. I found a site online, inquired, and set up a one hour ride. the best part of it, they came to the campground. All I had to do was walk out the trailer and across the grounds, and I was ready to go. One of the benefits of camping at a spot that also has trails for horses. The cost was $60.00, which may be a tad expensive, but I enjoyed it, so therefore, it was worth it.

Looks like the horse is saying, get this guy off me.
I think I heard the horse say, oh my aching back.

After finishing riding, it was head in to civilization to get some gas for the generator. Before leaving, I talked with the guy who was camping next to me (nice guy but why did he park so close to me?), and decided to take a different, more adventurous way out of the park. But first, I went back to a spot I’d stopped at yesterday and only gave a precursory look around. He had told me about the pond behind the water plant, and that I should check it out. I did and it was so cool.

Just me, the birds, and the gators. I do love solitude.

Lets not forget these guys.

A very big gator.
Not quite as big, but he has aspirations.

I noticed all these fish jumping around in the water, no wonder this is such a hotspot, all you can eat fish.

Kind of ugly looking fish, but the birds like them.

Way off in the distance, I could see what I thought to be a bald eagle and nest. I started walking towards it. The grass was getting higher and each step brought me closer to the waters edge. I wasn’t sure who or what may have been there so long story short (again), I didn’t get that National Geographic shot I wanted.

Next up was getting gas for the generator (and truck). I started taking the way spoken of earlier, and for the first couple of miles, all went well. The road was paved and in relatively good shape (for being 50 years old).

I wasn’t quite sure where to turn, and had fingers crossed that it would become obvious when I got there (great plan, right). I’m cruising along, trying to see everything and, yes you guessed it, along came another vehicle, can’t just cruise down the road in the middle of nowhere in peace. In this case though, I wasn’t upset. I thought great, I’ll just follow them, problem was, they were driving too damn fast, given the condition of the road.

Continuing down the road, went past a side street that I had a gut feeling was the one needed to take, but the other car was still going straight, so I continued to follow. A little further along, and getting a bit anxious, came across a man and woman biking. I pulled up next to them and asked for directions. Sure enough, the street I thought was the right one turned out to in fact, be the right one. I was so lucky those two were on the road because otherwise I would have just kept going straight until the road ran out (which it does). I guess having people around isn’t always a bad thing. I don’t know where those other folks were going, and I didn’t hang around to find out. I turned the truck around and back to 78th and Miller Rd. It’s weird to say 78th & Miller, because there’s literally nothing there, other than (oddly), a street intersection sign in very good condition (maybe that should have been a tip off).

Back to 78th, turned left, and away I went, feeling like a pioneer breaking a new trail. As I’ve said before (and will probably say again), these are the most fun roads, and the most scary. The road was water rutted in spots which meant, go slow, and at one point, there was a sign warning you that when water present, the road becomes impassable. Fortunately, its been dry lately and the roads were all dry. It took around 45 minutes to get out of the Forest and back to the sights and sounds of the big city.

I enjoyed it so much, I took the same route back. Buckle up, and lets take a ride.

I did see a deer run across the road on the way back.

I get back to the campground and remember, damn, I forgot to get gas. Do I go and get gas (another 40 minutes of driving), or hope there’s enough for the generator to make it through the evening? I decided to get gas and thought maybe I’ll see something on the roads coming back. Well, I didn’t see anything, but at least, we got gas!

Beautiful day, and one that I can feel good about, I enjoyed it.

02/16/19 Naples, FL.

DAY #119

It’s a milestone day, I actually did something today. Spent some time driving around and checking out the State Forest. I drove down roads that were laid down fifty to sixty years ago, and then left, long forgotten.

Lets see what a glimpse of the Picayune State Forest looks like;

Another of the canals dug to drain the land.
Driving on asphalt put down 50 years ago.

I was trying to see if I could use the original street layout to get through the Picayune Strand State Forest, and into the adjacent Fakahatchee Strand State Preserve, and finally the Big Cypress National Preserve. Gave it a good effort but in the end, stopped by water.

Ever so slowly, the wounds caused by the developers are healing.
But the scars remain.
This is the dry season. In the wet season, this road will be submerged.
Wasn’t even aware the bird was there.

Made it back to the starting point, and I still wanted to see the State and National Preserve. I googled in my destination, and dutifully followed instructions. According to google, we were going to be taking a much more pedestrian route to the Preserve’s.

There’s not a lot of roads in the area that go through, so I ended up taking kind of a long route to get to the destination. Starting out from the Golden Gate Estates, the single family homes faded into tomato farms, pasture land, and even an orange grove or two. All along this first stretch of road I felt like I was ‘riding on the fence’. Development on one side, and agricultural on the other. As I drove past a couple of fields growing tomatoes, there were two tractors going down the rows, spraying what I deduced to be some kind of herbicide, or pesticide, or hell, maybe both. It didn’t give me a good feeling seeing that. Further east, the fields yielded to scrub land, and with a big sigh, we were back in the wild.

Along the way went through a number of areas with signs proclaiming panther crossings. Along with the signs, there were 10′ high chain link fence running unbroken along both sides of road. Not sure how its connected with panthers. I’ll need to further look into that. The road brought me to the State Preserve, thought about taking the ‘Scenic Route’ that runs through it and seeing if I could get back into the Picayune. It’s an eleven mile route, and if the beginning was any indication, it’s a really bumpy & slow ride. Time was running against me, so I had to put doing this back up on the bulletin board for a later date.

Also, didn’t get time to go into the Big Cypress National Preserve, I wanted to get back before dark. I took U.S. 41 back and found it to be a enticing drive with some ‘wow’ views. Enjoyed seeing the large swaths of grass marshes surrounded by water, and all of it framed by stands of pines and palms. It felt to me like I was seeing the beginning of the everglades.

U.S. 41, is two lanes and busy, and it seemed all the good photo shots were on the wrong side of the truck, and on the side where I could have gotten some photos, the sun washed everything out. Taking photos on the go can be a great way of getting pictures, it can also be one of the most frustrating. Today was frustrating.

I came back going through the southern suburbs of Naples. The closer I got to Naples proper, the more man’s imprint could be seen. The ‘Deed Restricted’ communities, The Golf & Country Club estates, The “American Dream” theme park feel, but surprisingly, not a lot of commercial development (yet). I just don’t appreciate it. I see it as an assault on the environment, with no concern to what damage it may be causing.

Sunny sky’s, high of 80, and the opportunity to make some great memory’s yea, it was another good day.

02/15/19 Naples, FL

DAY #118

Another, sit around the campfire and do nothing day.

The highlight of the day (other than being in a really nice place), was taking a shower and having everything work out OK. I did make a grocery run to a different Publix. this one was about a ten minute shorter drive.

A plastic door stop under the trailer door had come loose, and after setting it down, surprise, surprise, I could not find it. I looked everywhere, inside the trailer, outside the trailer, with no luck. Man, it drives me crazy when you drop something, or set something down, and it disappears like it’s fallen into a black hole, never to be seen again. It did send me down a couple notches on the irrational response meter, but I was able to fight the demons and eventually mellow out. Some time later, and after I’d let go of the anger, I did a little more thinking and backtracking and viola, I found it. Now I just need to take away from this the lesson; if you start to get frustrated, walk away and come back to it after those frustrations have subsided.

One thing I’m realizing. If you don’t go anywhere or do anything, you don’t get any photos (wow, that’s brilliant).

02/14/19 Naples, FL

DAY #117

Weather wise, this was the nicest Valentines day in a long time. It was like Nature asking me to be its Valentines (does that sound weird?), how could I say no?

Finishing up my fourth day in the forest, and man oh man, I haven’t even been to the beach yet. The only place I’ve gone is Golden Gate, and that was only to get groceries, etc.

No specific reasons why. I’ve just found the campground in the Picayune State Forest, a real comfortable place to hang out. When you cross over I-75 (Alligator Alley) heading south, the view is phenomenal (at least for me). There’s only God’s creations all the way to the horizon. It’s such a departure from the world on the other side of the bridge. It lulls you into not wanting to leave. it’s sure working on me.

The campground is up to the right about 1000′

Add in the weather, which other than the one day, has been exceptional. The trailer is set up with potable water, the generator is working, so there’s electricity, and the toilet & water pump are operational. Mix in TV shows like Judge Judy, Peoples Court, Gun smoke, Rifleman, etc, and its been easy to drift away until you realize it’s 5:00 pm. Still, I do feel a bit guilty about being so unproductive.

One of the canals that still remain.

Signing off, from the chaise lounge outside the trailer, on this splendid late afternoon.