To the Everglades

We woke up early, for us, to a beautiful clear blue sky, a moderate breeze, and a temperature of about 56° outside. There were several generators running, so I didn’t feel any guilt in running hours to make coffee and toast. We had a nice breakfast of cheese omelettes toast and coffee, and took very little time after breakfast the cleanup and get organized. By a quarter after 10 were tooling down the highway, East towards Miami, with the intent to dumping our tanks at the Midway Campground. I attempted to make reservations at Midway while we were at Collier Seminole, but I wasn’t quick enough on the trigger and reservations were unavailable when we looked again.

About 4/10 of a mile West of the Midway campground we spotted a huge alligator dead on the side of the highway. It looked as if it had been struck, and to myself I estimated to be about 10 to 12 feet long. In order to use the dump station at Midway campground you have to check in with camp host, and when we did I told her about the alligator dead inside the road and the approximate location campground. Not wanting to appear excitable, I told him the dead alligator was eight feet long.

Midway campground has electricity of the individual sites, but no water at the sites, and a much smaller Lake. There is a dump station at Midway and freshwater hook up we saw bathroom buildings, but didn’t inspect them, so I’ve no idea if there are showers in the building. Using the dump station was uneventful, thank goodness, and off we went. The Western end of the Tamiami Trail is much prettier than the eastern part. There are number of Indians trying to make a living on the Eastern part, but that really has nothing to do with the scenery, as they really make a minimal commercial impact. The Eastern Everglades are just flatter more treeless have no hammocks, and there fewer birds. We did see one or two alligators sunning themselves on the bank, but that swamp they’re always talking about when they are up to their ass in alligators is on the western side of the Everglades

The drive to the Long Pine Key Campground in the Everglades National Park was pretty much noneventfull. The road passes by a tremendous number of farms and nurseries. Most of the nurseries are selling an  incomprehensible array of different Palm trees. I had no idea that there were that many palms in the world, and West of Homestead is the place where you could buy any one of them. While we were driving we made a list of some essentials, so that when we finally do get into Homestead, and stop by the supermarket, we don’t forget anything, like we have in the past. I thought the essentials could waste, but fuel is always an essential, especially when flamingo campground is 35 miles from the long pine key campground. Long pine key campground is in turn, about 15 miles from the store, so fuel is something you don’t want to be without.

We pulled into a Shell gas station intent on filling up, when I ran into trouble with both my chase charge cards. Apparently, the two different divisions of chase were concerned that my account was co-opted, and declined the transaction at the gas station, and texted me, to inquire if everything was okay. I texted back, and told them everything was just dandy. They did nothing. It took a phone call in front of the clerk to chase with an explanation that yes I am away from home yes I am purchasing fuel because I am away from home, for them to authorize the transaction. I told him I thought I was old enough that I didn’t need their permission to leave home and travel. They had no comment.

We arrived at the long pine key campground and the Ranger on-duty was the only person left from last year. I was really looking forward to seeing the camp hosts again, is they were really cool people, personable, insightful, friendly, informative and kept the camp ground spotless. It was explained to me that the director of maintenance for the Park wanted to mix things up a little, and suggested/assigned them to a location they did not want to be. They are in fact volunteers, so as volunteers they said no thanks and are doing something else in the Park. I got the vibe that they are not happy and I am certainly not happy either. The fortunate thing is that the Ranger at the station the same one from last year, and she is a sweetheart. She is very efficient, does her job well, but she’s just a pleasant person to come in contact with, which is why I was so stoked to come to this place again.

We have traveled extensively to National Park Service locations, and I’m getting the feeling that someone in the management of the National Park Service is making a concerted effort to cut back on maintenance so that the infrastructure of the parks requires so much capital investment, that the Park service throws up its hands, and says we can’t afford this, and contracts out the repairs, and the management, and the fees, and in effect privatizes the national Park system. This will make no sense to the people and have enjoyed the parks, or visited the parks, or camped in patients parks.

I took about twenty minutes to find an appropriate spot, as the Ranger had asked us to pick a spot closer to our size as opposed to one for the large RVs that visit the campground, since they been filled up the night before. I didn’t want to get one near the road that loops around lump sum to because I thought there was too much traffic, so we found a nice spot, site number 14, that turned out to be surrounded by Winnebago views.

While we were setting up the couple from the Winnebago view south of us stopped by to introduce themselves, Harold and Martha were for Maryland, and we headed off right away. They were traveling around in a 2007 Winnebago view, that Harold maintained himself. It’s interesting to look at other peoples rigs as everyone has a significantly different style. There RV was exceptionally clean and uncluttered. Harold had made too many modifications, so’s pretty much stock, very nice, well maintained, very clean RV, that suits their purposes perfectly. Our conversation let me feel that they were will-o’-the-wisp’s traveling much the same manner that we are traveling. They have a general plan, but with no set destination in mind. We had a famous time with them, and agreed to go to the presentation at the Ranger station at 7:30 PM over at the amphitheater on the West side of the lake were camp nearby.

Were very nice dinner of barbecued pork chops baked potatoes fresh broccoli and salad in no time at all. I use the stellar sharp convection microwave to cook the chops and they came out really well with far less bother than using the grill, although I am a dedicated griller.

They step by as we were finishing up the cleaning part of dinner, and we walked together over to the amphitheater. It was quite cold for Florida, about 55° Louise and I were wearing our North face fleece jackets, and Harold and Martha were wearing their winter coats. The talk about alligators, or crocodilians, was interesting, but I would only give the speaker B or B+. The talk ran late so we parted company but not before they had discussed their destination the following day, and we agreed to take in the anhinga Trail together.

All in all it was an exceptional day we had good times, we met good people, we had good food to eat and we had a great time. Louise and I are looking forward to what tomorrow promises.