We started the day slowly and straightened up and organized things before we left the site, after we packed everything up; didn’t know if we would be back, we needed fuel, propane, and water. The gauges for the levels seem to be incorrect. We had a full load of water before coming out to Flamingo and the grey water and black water tanks were registering a flicker over empty by the time the water was indicating gone. Later in the day, after we filled up to the point that the tank was overflowing, the gauge reads 2/3 full. Perplexing.
We had a number of places to visit on the list and a bunch that we were just interested in seeing. So we were off. Our first stop was Eco pond, in a hope that the roseate spoonbills would be there. There were three or four, but the gaggle that were there the previous day were off doing what birds do on a Saturday.
We continued on to Coot Bay Pond where the kayak/fishing contest was underway. The contestants were given a packet and a measuring board at the start with a series of color coded checkpoints to go to in a set order. Upon arriving at the checkpoint, the tally clerk at the checkpoint would hand them a token, and mark the time. The team, two individuals in kayaks, would take the token, fish the area, catch a fish, measure it on the board, take a picture of the fish on the board with the token, release the fish, return the token to the tally clerk, tell him the length of the fish, and then paddle off to the next checkpoint. Some checkpoints had a length factor. The one we visited at Coot Bay had a factor of 2 so that a 16 inch fish would count as a 32 inch fish. The winner would be the individual with the highest total of the fish lengths..
Mahogany Hammock was next and great, lots of palms, most of the really large mahogany trees that had been there, had been blown over in a hurricane, or died of old age. We didn’t run into a ranger to ask any questions, but there appeared to be only two large mahogany trees at the hammock and one was half dead. The area was very impressive, but I’m assuming that it’s lost much of its impact with the loss of the large trees since the 1960’s. The really remarkable thing about the hammock was the overwhelming silence. No birds, no critters creeping through the dried leaves, very few skittering anoles, no small mammals at all. We did meet a photographer that I’m assuming is a professional, as he was waiting two hours at the hammock to get a shot of a barred owl that is residing in the half dead, very large mahogany tree. The owl appeared to be sleeping, and I made a crack about the owl being a teenager, and won’t get out of bed before two on a Saturday, and was met with a stony ‘What the heck are you talking about’ look. ‘No teenagers huh?’ I replied; ‘Nope’ was the response. He would be more successful at hunting wildlife if he had kids.
I’m used to suburban New Jersey, which is looking more and more like the Serengeti when it comes to animals. We have Bear, coyote, raccoons, opossums, groundhogs, squirrels, chipmunks, field mice, eagles, hawks, and birds, birds, birds, everywhere you look. We have the great blue herons, and an occasional white egret type bird, but considering that the Everglades is supposed to be one of the wintering places for all the northern birds, this place is desolate. We saw robins in New Jersey in January when all the worms were frozen and we wondered how they were making a living. They were the last ones we saw. The last time I was here was forty two years ago, and memory is a fickle thing, but I remember far more birds. Louise and I haven’t even seen the guano stained mangrove I was expecting to show her.
We had a nice lunch in the RV. The great understated part of travelling this way is that no matter where you are, you’re home. Louise had a homemade chicken salad sandwich on fresh toast. I had a cheesesteak and onions on fresh toast, all washed down with cold iced tea. Life on the road can be good.
We stopped at nine mile pond and took a walk on the boardwalk, again in silence, and then out onto the boardwalk that ran over the water so you could get a good look at the mangrove water interface. It was getting later, and we stopped at any opportunity to gape and gawk. I stopped at the side of the road for a group of storks perched in the trees; I later read that they are on the endangered species list. While we were there, I spotted a roseate spoonbill feeding in the water near the road, and got several ok photos. I was excited and didn’t take the time to properly frame the photo, but it will do.
We went straight to town, located church for tomorrow, located the propane place, which had moved and left the tank and sign behind when they did. I paid over $4 a gallon for LPG. Wow! The guy handing out the propane was the first guy who I thought knew what he was doing and was also the first to have tank and distributing apparatus that wasn’t inside a cage. It always bothered me previously that if anything went wrong, the guy distributing the LPG was a goner as he operated from essentially inside the cage.
We stopped at the local Publix supermarket, made some phone calls, bought some semi-essential items including a delicious rotisserie chicken that is about 25 percent smaller than the ones at home for the same price. Got some fuel and the discount Sunoco card didn’t work and the receipt didn’t print, so I asked for a receipt that didn’t have what I bought or how much, and people ask me why I use paper and don’t trust technology.
The chicken made dinner easier as we stopped at Long Pine Key Campground to dump the necessary and take on a full load of water. We had been planning on stopping at Eco pond to see who was there, but it was dark. We levelled the RV and forgoed the stabilizers, and had a great dinner in a very short period of time. We added some fresh broccoli and mashed potatoes and ate like royalty. Even had time to lubricate the fan that had been keeping us awake for the last several nights and made it sound like a $100 fan. All is good.