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.

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