Tuesday, February 10, 2015

South Bay To Fort Pierce

Burning the sugar cane before harvest
 Yes, we are now heading north.  This year it was not raining in the Glades as we crossed over and turned the corner at the casino and drove into the sugar cane area of southern Florida.  The sky was heavy in spots but as we got closer, the view became obvious – it was not storm clouds – it was time to burn off the sugarcane for harvest. Huge billowing mounds of ever rising clouds of smoke covered the landscape.  Several fields were already blackened and had soot covered tractors and open basket trailers waiting for the stacks of cut cane to be loaded and hauled off to the sugar mill.   South Bay is the little town at the southern tip of Lake Okeechobee that is in the midst of all the alternating burning fields of tall feathery cane and the bright green fields of fast growing new cane.
Bike path on the dike around lake Okeechobee
The other occupation in SB is fishing in the famous lake on the other side of the tall Herbert Hoover Dike that hides the view while protecting from storms and (in the past) flooding.  The county campground at SB has green grass, blacktop parking pads and a small lake right in the middle of the 2 camping loops – perfect for sailing H’s little boat!   Our bikes got their turn as we climbed the steep entrance to the top of the dike and rode 5 miles towards Belle Glade and the Torry Island Campground where H used to camp before it became so run down and then almost destroyed by a hurricane several years ago.  Zoom in on the picture and you can see the campground in the distance! On one side of the dike is the canal that skirted around the grass filled edge of the lake and on the other was ever more fields of various stages of bright green young sugar cane.  

We met Wayne and Mary from Chattanooga Tennessee with their brand new V-Lite trailer. Fellow travelers – we shared lots of stories.  We can’t seem to get away from rain in SB and the rumbling storm hit and woke us up at 6am on the morning we were to pull out. The weather forecast had been saying that it was a big storm with heavy rains and strong winds and the outlook for pulling that big bulletin board in that was not comforting. When it had let up by 9am – we pulled up the jacks and hit the road without even getting to say goodbye to our new friends.

Heading northeast, we crossed and then followed the same cross-Florida channel that we had camped next to in WP Franklin and last year at St Lucie Lock & Dam Campground on the Atlantic side of the state.  Thru Stuart and Port St Lucie we did the “stop and go” heavy traffic dance on Rt 1 till we reached Fort Pierce and the county park Savannas Recreation Area which also has a state park by the same name, one mile over.  Last year when we checked out this park it was half under water.  This year the place is drier and we’ve parked in the long row of fifth wheels, motorhomes and trailers – most with northern states license plates on them.  We’re between Maine and Pennsylvania!  The park is surrounded by swamps and canals and a small lake on the other side of a vast swamp grass area where long legged white Egrets and big gray sandhill cranes nest.  There are plenty of signs that warn not to feed the alligators but we’ve not seen any of them – yet.

We have seen the beaches out on beautiful Hutchinson Island again!  On each of our trips, the winds were strong and the white waves were raging and crashing over the jettys that protected the inlet.   At the Refuge, the jagged red rocks were dotted with tan shorebirds and fishermen in spite of the wind and waves.  On the gray gritty sandy area, the shore was lined with piles of small light blue jellybean looking things – jellyfish that had been washed ashore.  You won’t catch us in that water!  Overhead we heard the noise of Para gliders and then the distinct sound of whirling blades above the roar of the ocean!  As we turned to see – two brightly colored oblong parachutes with pilots precariously hanging by a harness glided by and then came the 4 big black military 
Beach at Hutchinson Island
helicopters!  The low flying craft buzzed along the shoreline and waved to all of us who were gazing up with our mouths open in amazement!   On our 2 nd venture out to the long narrow barrier island that separates the mainland, the wide Indian River and the vast aqua colored Atlantic Ocean, the winds were much calmer and the gritty gray sand beach next to the jetty was speckled with sun worshipers.
our campground at the Savannas

The kayaks have been in the water and the bikes have been round and round the campground.  Another storm has roared thru and brought more wind and colder weather so now we’ve done PLENTY of shopping!