Today was household chores day. Don’t kid yourself, it isn’t always fun and games on the road, OK, it usually is but I need to pretend otherwise, in order to throw off those who have responsibilities, like going to work every day, The chores included going into Okeechobee to get a prescription refilled, draw out some cash at an ATM, and last but not least, do laundry. Of course, I forgot to take the sheets with me so I hope laundry’s fun, cause I’m going to be doing it again tomorrow.
I like the vibe I got from Okeechobee. It’s a working class kind of town with a history, and a small town feel to it. Like the Everglades, it’s a hike to town, but the ride doesn’t’ seem as long as it is.
Afterwards, headed back to the campground, put the laundry and groceries away and hung out for the rest of the day. It seems my donothingitis hadn’t completely gone away, I felt a relapse coming on.
So relieved that the humidity has broken. Took a shower last night and it was so good to feel clean. even after limiting the temperature to warm because of the legs and feet, man, they’re starting to peel, and itch. It almost felt luxurious to sleep on sheets that didn’t feel damp, or sticky.
I’m afraid my chronic condition, donothingitis, has flared up again. I ended up just hanging around the campsite today. Hey, I didn’t go anywhere, period.
Surfing the net, watching TV, and lounging around, are classic symptoms of this condition and I was experiencing all of them. While treatable, the fastest recovery is to just let it run its course.
I did have an incidence last night with a fellow camper. It was around 12:30 am, when I saw (out the window by the bed) what looked to be an LED flashlight coming towards the trailer. Sure enough a knock on the door. I got up from the bed and answered the door. A woman was standing there (flashlight in hand) asking if I could turn down the TV. Now, I will say that it was up loud, but was it loud enough to emanate through the trailer and across the campsite into their van? I had my doubts, but I complied and turned down the volume.
*The next morning I turned the TV volume to the same level of loudness as last night and walked over to the next campsite (they had left). I wanted to see if the noise was disrupting. I did not hear the TV, or at the most it was very faint. Add to that, being inside a van, and I think the sound was inaudible, unless you had hyper-hearing
What irritated me about this encounter, I had met the woman earlier when checking in with her partner, and the impression I had just by listening to what they said, and the questions that they were asking, was that these two were of the kind that liked to play the victim card. Something doesn’t go their way? It’s because of this, or because of that. Poor me, I’m a victim, everyone’s against me.
Now, I know I’m looking at them from within the boundary’s of a Stereotype, and I considered that heavily when forming my impression. Maybe I’m wrong and maybe, it just doesn’t really matter. It just kind of irked me, bringing me into her sphere of life, leave me out of it!
Tomorrow is only forecast to get up into the mid 60’s, which is 20 degrees colder than what I’ve gotten used to. At least it’s supposed to be sunny, so like the alligators and crocodiles, I’ll just find a place in the sun, and let it warm my body.
It’s supposed to get down into the low 40’s tonight. After a couple weeks where the lows didn’t dip much below 70, that’s a major difference. I’ll be getting the space heater out of storage and turning it on tonight.
Time to say goodbye to the Everglades-Flamingo camp ground, and the Everglades National Park. My attitude is better today, more on that at a later date.
Down the road, out the park, and along the back roads north I headed. It was another hot and humid day. The traffic and road construction encountered along the way slowed things down, big time. I had rejected googles suggestion of a shorter route and ended up mapping my own, one which would keep me out of the urban areas, and let me stay in the rural areas. The one drawback with my route, it took so much longer, I was on the road for 6 1/2 hours today, almost 2 hours longer than if I would had I taken the freeways and turnpikes (toll roads) google recommended.
Even though it was a lot longer, I really enjoyed the ride. It took me from the produce and nursery farms of South Florida, across the wetlands of the Northern Everglades, through the fields of sugarcane and pasture lands of Central Florida, to the shore of Lake Okeechobee (or at least to the dike surrounding the lake) and finally, the prairie land of Kissimmee Preserve State Park.
The final lap to the park really heightened the feeling of how isolated the park is. Mile after mile of road, where the cattle out numbered the people by at least twenty five to one. A couple of things stood out for me driving along; The palm trees, nothing exudes tropical, like palm trees (love them),
and the biggest surprise; Apparently, a sub-division had been plotted out at one time, and had gotten as far as putting in streets through the prairie. It looked like a ghost town, just like the failed subdivision in Picayune State Forest. There are signs everywhere advertising lots of 1 1/4 acres or larger being offered.
One sign proclaimed; Be a man, buy land. While all I could see looking down the grass covered roads, was empty land, the number of mailboxes along the main (paved) road, indicated people must have bought and are living on their lots. It was just so unexpected to see, especially out here.
A lot of the area west of the State Park is familiar, it wasn’t but a month ago I spent time west of Kissimmee Preserve State Park. This time, I plan on focusing my exploration to the east of the park, and around the Atlantic, which is a little over an hour away (at the closest)
The paved road ended and the dirt road began, I had made it to Kissimmee State Park. It was another three mile drive before getting to the park office.
Checked in and off to the site I went. After finding the site, backing in, and setting up, I was home until the 14th of the month.
It seemed to be a really nice site, kind of an oasis in a sea of prairie. I did have some issues with the power, when I plugged in the 30 amp from the trailer to the junction box, the refrigerator didn’t show that it was running on electricity. After trying a couple of times, I decided that the problem was in the junction box and called the ranger to report it. Meanwhile, I pulled the generator out of the truck and hooked it up. With the generator running, it wasn’t turning the fridge on either, damn, what’s going on? Checked inside the trailer for an electrical code, and it said open circuit. My mind clicked, the generator has to have a plug in the other outlet for it to work (without it you’ll get an open circuit). Plugged it in and yes, the fridge was working. Decided to check the junction box once again and this time, it worked. I unhooked the generator and yea, now had working water and electric, plus there was OTA (not many channels but can’t be greedy), and internet.
More importantly, I passed the test that was put in front of me. I didn’t freak out and make a fool out of myself. Instead, I handled the situation the way it should’ve been.
Last full day at the
Flamingo-Everglades National Park and I have mixed feelings about the time
You are about as far away from the mad dash of
life that you’re going to get.
So many things to see and do.
It’s a beautiful park in all its natural
Long ways to drive to get into/out of park.
No OTA TV.
No Internet Cell Service.
Long ways to drive to get into/out of park.
I do have this nagging feeling that I’ve fallen down and failed to see so much of South Florida. I didn’t get into Miami, or even see the Atlantic Ocean for that matter. There were so many things to see and do in the park and I did but a smidgen (if even that) of them. Yes, I went down the Keys, but even with that, I felt like I cheated on the amount of time given to do so.
The ghosts from the past still run around in my head, only confounding and exacerbating these feelings I struggle with, all the while, lessening the experience called life.
OUT OF LEFT FIELD QUESTION: Now tell the truth, when you’ve gotten sunburned and the skin began to peel, did you ever taste the skin? Told you it was an oddball question. The only reason I’m asking is my legs are beginning to peel.
OK, where did we leave off?
In an effort to lighten my spirits, and to satisfy a need for accomplishment, I booked a cruise on a pontoon that would take us out into the bay. The boat was pretty much like the one the other day that went into the backwaters. The price was the same, plus this one had an upstairs for even better views. Off we went, precisely at 5:00 pm, and for the next 1:45, sailed around the bay. As we went along on this simply gorgeous evening, were able to see a number of different birds, and making a special appearance, 4-5 dolphins, they spent a bit of time entertaining us, or maybe we were entertaining them, they’re such smart creatures, and then they swam off.
The climax of the cruise was getting to watch the sun set while out on the water. It was an enjoyable cruise ending with just a beautiful sunset. My spirits were lightened, mission accomplished.
Maybe I need to do a bit more
introspection and get a better handle on just what this time on the road is
supposed to be about. Yea, it’s a good
time to sit and reflect on what’s happen so far, and what the expectations will
be for the trip north.
Tired of reading about the plight
of the poor old man with his sunburned feet?
Ready to get in the truck, hit the road and see something down here in
South Florida? OK, let’s go.
Today, was going down to ‘The Keys’
day. From Florida City down to Key West
and back on U.S. 1, the one and only road you can take (there is a secondary route to Key Largo). Nothing in depth, just wanted to do a little
reconnaissance. After doctoring up the foot for the day and easing into the
slippers, I Left the park at exactly 10:05 am (early for me). It looked to be a good day for sightseeing. Warm and humid meant putting the A/C on in
the truck. Even though the sun, heat,
and humidity are nice, you can sometimes get too much of a good thing and need
a break, today, I needed a break.
Made it to U.S. 1 in Florida City
by 11:00 am and immediately, bumper to bumper, stop and go traffic, not a good
way to start. There were a number of
police cars in the area so I thought ok, maybe something happened causing this
backup and as we get going, it will break up.
Getting clear of the squad cars and the traffic didn’t break it up, it
stayed bumper to bumper, stop and go, halfway to Key Largo.
Maybe because It’s Saturday that’s
why it’s so busy I reasoned, and if that was the case and this was going to be
the norm all the way down to Key West, I didn’t want to continue. I was disappointed but resigned, thinking oh
well, maybe I can spend the day checking out Miami. To continue, would have made for a lousy
memory. I didn’t want it to be of fighting
traffic for three hours in each direction, not being able to look around, take
photos, etc. I’d just be watching the
traffic ahead of me the entire way.
The only thing that persuaded me
to go as far as Key Largo before turning around, there was no place to turn
around on U.S. 1. The sides of the road had chain link fence and the median was
a never-ending strip of concrete. (I
liked how it was painted a pastel blue).
There were no roads intersecting, no off ramps, no nothing.
Made in into Key Largo and stopped
for gas. I paid $2.45 per gallon, not
less than three months ago it was under $2.00.
Why is it continuing to go up?
Because the bastard speculators can get away with it that’s why, and
nobody (as a group) says
anything. Shrug our shoulders and crumble,
what can we do about it anyway, greedy SOB’s.
I also found out what was causing
all the traffic tie-up. It seems some
sort of bicycle rally was going on. A
whole lot of ‘Tour de France,’ ’Breaking Away’ wannabes (that’s not nice) were out sharing the road with weekend automobile
traffic. I shouldn’t say anything
negative, they were out there riding hard and enjoying themselves, and isn’t
that what it should be about.
I decided to take a secondary road back to Florida City, maybe I should have taken it when I left for the keys, and I might have missed all the traffic. It was a nice, but nondescript ride.
One thing I did notice (other than a whole lot of bikers) was traffic was much quieter and free rolling, no delays, no nothing. Made it to the end of the road which was the entrance to what seemed to be a very private, very exclusive club and turned around. I could have taken the secondary road and headed back to the mainland, but something propelled me to continue straight, back into Key Largo.
Back in Key Largo, I thought, I’m
going to go a little further south and see how things are moving, and made a
left turn onto U.S. 1, fingers crossed that things would move along
smoother. Driving across the key (island) I did notice that while still
busy, traffic had become much more manageable.
I was able to look around without running into the back of anyone, and
even able to put the cruise control on from time to time when speeds allowed it. I decided to carry on down to Key West.
One observation from the time
spent in this area, by far, the majority of the convertibles you see are Ford
Mustangs, with Chevrolet Camaros a distant second.
Most of the Keys (islands) the highway slices through are fully developed and have a look suggesting that their heyday was from another era (like the motels in Florida City). Absent were the ‘new and improved’ communities and high-rise condos along the beach. Many of the buildings had a 1950s, 1960s look and feel to them. You could still find a “Mom and Pop” motel along the beach to stay, and the restaurants tended to be locally owned, rather than some cookie cutter corporate iteration (there’s still no shortage of McDonald’s). There were places where you could go arrange to go diving and/or fishing inter spaced alongside places fixing mufflers and managing pain. There was not much in the way of what I would call, tourist traps. It looks like (to me) its had its fifteen minutes of fame and has now settled down to the task of day to day life. It seems to coexist with tourism, rather than having been consumed, or grown dependent by it. It’s little disheveled, and maybe, even a little shabby in parts. It felt like someplace where the average man/woman/family could still afford to live (and want to).
Rolling down U.S. 1, watched the water turned from a sky blue to turquoise the farther south the road went, playing off so well as the backdrop to the pastel hued, distinctly simple homes along the way. The water was busy with boats of all shapes and sizes, and people fishing off the piers running alongside the highway. it was a beautiful, low wind, calm day. There is a vibe to the area, and it’s one of a tropical flavor, laid back and lived in. One could easily lose themselves and become a beachcomber if that’s what they wanted.
The drive down/back to Key West
was about three hours each way which didn’t leave me a lot of time to get off
the main road and explore around the various Keys. Since I’d been to Key West a couple of times
before and time was at a premium, I passed on spending any time on the island
this day (it’s worthspending the day there). One stop I would have liked to have made was
on Big Pine Key. The island is known for its tiny deer. I saw a lot of signs warning drivers to look
out for them but didn’t get to see any in person.
What I was able to do in my excursion
was to get a glimpse of what the area offered.
I’d like to come back, stay in one of the old-style motels on the beach,
and spend about a week just exploring the islands in depth, now that would be a
The ride back was nice but uneventful. Coming back into Key Largo (The name sounds cooler than the town actually is) I decided to veer off the highway and take the secondary road back to the mainland. I’m glad that I had passed on taking it earlier. It turned out to be a toll road that I didn’t know about until I got to the point where a photo is taken of your license and the bill ($1.50) is sent to you. Continued on and kind of a cool road. Mangrove growth along both sides of the road and literally, nothing else.
Another 45 minutes through the Everglades and I was home for the night. My legs and feet were about twice their normal size, but made it through the day, and a nice day it was.