We started the day with a nice fancy breakfast, fashionably late, and then cleaned up. I must have been anxious to get the day started for all the relaxing start to the morning, because I forget to remove the rear stabilizer brackets and I backed up over them. There is nothing more disconcerting than backing over something that you know should not be there. I shattered the lower portion of one of the stabilizers (it seemed to work later in the day), so I gathered them into the storage bin and off we went. We stopped off at the dump station, and topped off our water. I always try to taste the water before we add it to the tank, even though it’s double filtered, before we drink it, and this stuff was good.
We had a nice conversation with the campgrounds hosts Scott and Kate, from Massachusetts, and the ranger. Since we were filled with water, we parked by the nearby lake and I took a shower, and then we were off to Flamingo. We made a couple of stops along the way to see birds, vistas and flowers, and I took what I hope were some great pictures.
The road runs as straight as an arrow, with one bend. We drove that laser line straight to Flamingo, found the Ranger for the campground, got some basic information, and looked at the campground. Were told that we could get a site somewhere in the A loop, so we took a look and found very many nice campsites. The mosquitoes and no-seeums were reported to be worse at Flamingo than at Long Pine Key. We took a drive through the T loop, even though we were un-invited, and scoped out the electrical hookups. According to the ranger the next date for and electrical hookup site is sometime in March. We saw at least five sites that had no sign of anyone at them. Recreation.gov manages the sites, and we later found that the Park Service put out bids for the management of Flamingo camping to a vendor last year, and since there were no bids, so thy were stuck with it this year.
The Park Service appears, at least here, to be anxious to get out of the campground business. From what I’ve read, the government is anxious to get out of the Park Business and Public land business and lease the whole shebang to anyone who has the nerve to jump in. Who knows, we could be making reservations with Marriott for a night’s stay at a National Park, and we know how pricey rooms can be with Marriott. At least there will be points for frequent stays.
We left the campsites and took a look around we found an area dedicated to tent camping, and took a walk along the adjacent beach. We met a very nice couple from Minnesota who had fled the cold without previously made reservations, and were having a grand time at Flamingo. They said that it took them a while to get close to the beach, but had secured a spot and were very happy. The wife was settled in under a large mangrove tree, with a view of Florida Bay. It was about 81 degrees with a lovely breeze. It reminded me very much of the time I spent in the Florida Keys. I felt 20 years old again.
Louise and I took a walk, exploring the beach and the mangroves and had a great timer. We returned to the RV and had lunch, and then stopped into the visitor center. An enamel pin, some information, a guide and we were off the see the saltwater crocodiles. There were two laying about by the dam. There was an osprey’s nest at the dam, and we enjoyed looking at the mother osprey yelling at predators, the father osprey fishing and chasing anyone they deemed a menace away, and the two chicks mooching for food. We bumped into the guy who rents canoes at Flamingo, took the information and walked about. We found two piers where every gull in the vicinity was stacked on the dock/pier. They looked like a bunch of commuters waiting for a ferry.
On the way back to the RV, we saw some cool strangler fig trees and stumbled across the remnants of some mahogany tree pods. Hard as heck and mahogany colored. They looked like some version of wood replacement stuff and they have no give. It took a while to get to Flamingo and talk to a number of people. There was general confusion regarding what was going on at the campground. Some people said that it was first come first served, other said it was a strict site specific reservation system, others said it was a day at a time, and others said that sites could be procured in four day stretches. It’s such a nice place, even with the bugs when the wind stops, that we’ll try for Thursday through Sunday night. Failing that, we’ll stay at Long Pine key through the weekend; it’s a very nice place, and commute.
On the way back to Long Pine Key, were distracted by a roseate spoonbill. Louise saw the bird, and immediately thereafter, I saw several birds that I knew to be kites; something that is not just around ion every Florida street corner. We pulled into an area that was reported to have both a bunch of roseate spoonbills, and none, and found none. What we did find was a couple from New Hampshire. He was shooting at the swallow tailed kites with a gorgeous Nikon D600 and an 80 to 400 Nikon Lens. The man was a serious birder. His wife acted as spotter, and mentioned that she was anxious to see the downloaded pictures later that evening. We watched the kites for a while, took some good pictures, and returned to the campsite.
I was hoping to renew for an additional day, but the kiosk was closed so I talked to the camp host Kate. The big Wi-Fi sign out on the road is an old amphitheater sign. There is no Wi-Fi, but I was told that phone connections are better at the intersection of the main road and the road to the camp. So far, we have no difficulty in making phone calls. We had a long very nice talk with Kate, a great gardener, who has managed to start a number of coconut trees for a friend who lives in Florida. I was very impressed, and asked about her garden at home. She says that she mainly grows vegetables in her garden and had foregone flowers as she had difficulty with the weeding to keep them nice.
We actually returned to the campsite before sunset. I set up the awning, made some drinks, snacks and a charcoal fire, set out the speakers, hooked up the music and Louise and I prepared a great dinner of shell steak, baked potatoes, broccoli, and salad. It was a very relaxing, warm, nice evening and a great day.