Wednesday, February 1, 2012

South Florida

South Florida

Long Key State Park – SPFB!! The days were sunny and WARM! We donned our water shoes, grabbed the snorkel bucket (the white bucket with the glass bottom!) and have gone out exploring the ocean bottom for “treasures”! I have some new ones to bring home! This year I found a Sea Urchin. It looks like a Sand Dollar on steroids! Last year we saw a Batfish and we’ve seen one twice this year along with Manta Rays, Puffer fish and Boxfish! It was so easy to get the orange bubbles into the calm sea since last year the canoe never left the top of the Jeep the entire time we were here. Our new underwater discovery was the Flower Pot Sponges that looked just like the big black plastic pots that bushes and trees come in from the tree nursery and Barrel Sponges that look just like a big squatty barrels! Showing Nancy the world of under water sea treasures (via the snorkel bucket!) was fun! Most of the seashells we picked up had to be returned to the exiting tide area because they had hermit crabs in residence! One evening I gave a big yell and N came to my rescue to help corral and then take pictures of a big Blue Land Crab that was side stepping across our patio rug trying to get to the protective cover of the Mangrove jungle on the other side of our “condo” before being discovered! And the sunsets behind our “condo” were phenomenal, especially when the peach and coral colors reflected off of Ron’s trailer!

Our next moving day was stressful - - - 3 miles up Highway 1 to Fiesta Key Resort. Last year we parked along the canal but this year they gave us the “cheap seats” closer to the road and up against the mangroves. We were scheduled to park right next to R&N, however – the sites were SO narrow and there was a palm tree planted too close to where the trailer was to sit so we moved over one spot – leaving an empty site between us and R&N making the neighborhood more spacious! Thankfully the park did not fill up and no one was crammed in between us! No cell service and no wifi still but the swimming pool was great and the little store had a good supply of ice cream cones! H was happy in spite of it all!

Up the road and out of the Keys, past the fields of strawberries and sweet corn where the irrigation sprinklers were spewing long lines of wet spray over the young tender plants. Over and down to the end of the southern most road in the Everglades – Flamingo, so we could park for a few more days before we started our eventual slow trip north. The objective for these few days was to rent a boat and venture out into the dark waters of the glades. Now, a 16ft skiff with a 40 horsepower motor should have moved us along with no problem. Should have! As long as we were traveling in a “no wake” length of the long narrow channel, we did ok. We passed the pontoon tour boat when they stopped to see a Crocodile. They passed us when we stopped to get shots of the next motionless croc! They passed us several times after that because once we were out in the larger lake area, and the boys threw the throttle wide open, the water logged vessel sludged up to a whopping 6 mph. We plowed across the choppy waters to the next channel and regretfully turned around to head back to the marina because we were running out of rental time. “Exploring the Glades” was not to be. The young man who assigned us this abused tub told us to just call the marina IF we had problems and he would come right out and get us. Yeah, right. Both attempts to reach him ended up in a never-ending circle of recorded nonsense messages. But – we made it back and our attempts to explain the woeful quality of the vessel fell on deaf ears.

Time to move on again came too quickly but we still had time to stop at one of the turnouts on the road back out of the glade and watched several Roseate Spoonbills swish their long spoon shaped bills back and forth in the water looking for a fishy tidbit for lunch. The dark water of the pond, surrounded by pines, palms and mangroves was so peaceful and calm but H was ready to be on our way. There was plenty of time before we were to park one more at the casino for the night, so we headed to Biscayne Bay National Park for a picnic lunch. Nancy got another stamp for her National Park Passport Book! The afternoon was way nicer than the night we spent parked in the expressway lane of the parking lot at the casino. It was the weekend! The casino was packed with people and smoke from all the cigarettes they puffed on. The parking lot was also crowded and got more so as the night progressed. Some dummies even parked within 3 feet of the front bumper of the truck. Two “good old boys” with their big trucks and trailers carrying airboats! H was tempted to just unhook their unlocked trailers and roll them back so we could pull forward. Good thing it was Ron who was parked behind us so when he pulled out – we could back up and get out.

Keeping to the outskirts of Miami and Fort Lauderdale we edged our way up Rt 27 and then Rt 441 thru all the traffic congestion and traffic lights. It seemed like an all day task but we finally made it to John Prince Park Campground in Lake Worth. We have electricity, and cell phone service, and wifi!