Thursday, January 13, 2011

Collier-Seminole State Park

Collier-Seminole State Park

Monday was moving day, alright - - moved to Wal-Mart in Sun City Center to purchase a portable air compressor and some “Slime” because one of the trailer tires was losing air again! That problem fixed, H vacillated between staying on Rt 301 or getting on I75 and fighting the growing volume of wind and the growing number of vehicles on the highway Rt 301 won for awhile but the stop and go traffic in Bradenton got on his nerves so he grabbed the steering wheel tightly and got on the expressway to do battle with the force of the winds as they beat on us from 3 different sides – and of course never a tail wind!

Collier-Seminole State Park is nestled on the edge of the Everglades and just south of Naples and east of Marco Island. I’m not sure if you would call it a woods, a forest, a hammock, or a JUNGLE! We rode our bikes on some of the paths and ended up on a really rickety, rotting old boardwalk that rattled and clanked when my tires went over them. It felt like that movie where the fishing pier was being blown up behind them and falling in as they drove over it. I wasn’t sure whether it was falling apart behind me or falling in UNDER me! Whew! I did make it. The park is named for the Seminole Indians who used to live in this area and for Barron Gift Collier who was instrumental in building the roadway from Tampa to Miami and is know as the Tamiami Trail today. The park has on display The Bay City Walking Dredge, built in Bay City Michigan in the 1920’s. This monstrous big black metal creature was operated 10 hours a day, 6 days a week through the swamp to dig up limestone and mud which was piled into a bank to form the road bed, after the fill was compacted. Can you only imagine working in that sweltering heat with swarms of hungry angry mosquitoes and stinking slimy muck with no Avon bug spray or Skin So Soft?

We are listening to a rather fun novel entitled “ Nature Girl” which takes place in the Everglades and the 10000 Islands that border it. The main character is a rather goofy lady who lives in a trailer park in Everglade City. We HAD to go see that town. H said when he was there last it was just a hole in the wall spot where they built the Welcome Center for the Everglades. Now it is a classy collection of beautiful homes and condo’s each complete with it’s own boat channel behind it. At the end of the road is another small island, Chokoloskee, also mentioned in this book. We found the “Smallwood Store” a historic old Indian Trading Post and Museum, established in 1906 by Ted Smallwood. In 1982 when it finally closed, 90% of the original goods were still in the store. Ted’s granddaughter has reopened the store and has turned it into a most interesting museum. From there we went to explore another island – Marco Island – also a very upscale island. We found some free parking at the beachside Marriott Hotel and put our feet in the white sand and the gentle gulf waves. The beach was dotted with all kinds of shells and brightly colored sales on sailboats, patiently waiting to go for an afternoon sail. I even managed to grab up a few of those pretty shells before H got sand in his shoes and gave in to the urge to move on to find the next beach. In Naples the parking was not free but the beach was just as pretty and the view from the Naples Pier was of milky blue green waves washing up on white sand and colorful, grand old cottages snuggled down behind shrub-covered dunes.

We’ll be moving on again – across the vast alligator infested area called “ The Everglades” on Rt 41- the Tamiami Trail. The weather is to turn cold so we need to find a campground with electricity.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Tampa Area

Tampa Area

It’s really fun being able to show all the sights to the new kids in town! Bruce and Barbee didn’t seem to mind either! Bruce drove and headed north to Tampa and Ybor (ee-bor) City, per directions from his co-pilot, H. Ybor City was founded in 1886 and is a restored old Cuban section of North Tampa, which is now full of quaint shops, restaurants and cigar stores where you can watch them hand roll cigars. To us northern tourists, it reminded us of New Orleans with all the wrought iron railings above the covered walkways of the old brick buildings. H saw a yellow trolley go by and we chased after him to climb aboard it and ride the beautifully crafted electric trolley all the way from Ybor to downtown Tampa, past the Tampa Aquarium, the convention center where the Ringling Circus was performing and the Cruise Line docks. While the trolley driver was busy changing the signs on the front of the trolley and switching the wires it was running on, H took a shot at pretending he was the man in charge! Poor B – he had 2 and a half back seat drivers (I tried to stay out of all the “direction giving”!) but we did make it to St Petersburg and “The Pier”. SPFB!!! This is the upside down pyramid building out on the long pier on the shore of downtown. Miss B and I had fun in the hat shop and then up on the 5th level to take pictures of the marina’s, airports, St Petersburg skyline and Tampa Bay. You could see the stacks from the power plant in Apollo Beach from there! Back in the big white tour “truck” we stopped for a view of the Sunshine Skyway Toll Bridge before venturing out over it. The clouds had been gathering and the sun was starting to set in the west but was pushing thru and acting as a spotlight reflecting off the vast waterway as we were coming over the bridge. That piercing ray of sun light cast quite a dancing reflection against the stark black shadow of the fishing pier and the many shades of gray clouds. Our day’s journey ended with a scrumptious “supper” of strawberry shortcake complete with a big scoop of ice cream and dollop of whip cream. Yes – since it was cold by then – we ate quickly and got back in the still warm truck and headed home!

Friday was laundry day and our BC friends had a travel day ahead of them. Hugs and goodbyes were given and we parted ways again. Laundry done, a yummy breakfast enjoyed and errands run, H parked himself in his lawn chair in the sun for “Happy Hour” that afternoon. A passing pickup stopped and asked him if he saw the pig that was behind him! This rather large black boar had wandered right thru the spot where B&B’s 5th wheel had been parked, munching acorns as he sauntered along. He went right behind our trailer and casually went the length of the campground looking for his afternoon snack. We told you there were pigs!

Today was the Red Barn Flea Market day where we bought a small box of big red strawberries intended for our supper. Fresh, warm Bisquick shortcakes and a new squirt can of Rediwhip made it complete!

Sunday is a stay close to “home” day with just a run to McD’s to borrow their wifi. Time to pack up and move south on Monday!