Got a bit of a slow start Sunday morning. Didn’t sleep very well, but did manage to kill another half dozen mosquitoes! After a very refreshing shower, I coated myself head to toe (hands and ankles included) with bug spray once again, and set off for Eco Pond. A lot of the Flamingo area was hard hit during Hurricanes Katrina & Wilma in 2005; the lodge was destroyed, the marina, restaurant, and gift shop were damaged, and Eco Pond was overrun with salt water. It had been the largest body of fresh water in the area, and attracted an abundance of wading birds. It’s recovering, but there were no birds readily visible during my stroll. I did, however, find a few butterflies…
|So many flowers to choose from – this one must be extra special!|
|Not a butterfly…|
|Decent MPG for this section!|
Having no set agenda for the day, I started north, back out of mosquito territory. I stopped at a couple of the boardwalk trails along the main park road. They were all completely different, showcasing the various ecosystems that make up the Everglades. The first, Mahogany Hammock, was probably my favourite. It was short in length, as they all were, but still gave you a feel for what being in the middle of a hammock was like. I managed to complete the circuit just before a brief burst of rain blew in, and the wind rustling through the trees was magical.
Not so many people this far down into the park at this hour. Either that, or the threat of rain had everyone pushing through or staying away. The RV on the left is a rental – El Monte (far less obvious than Cruise America’s moving billboards!). Friendly couple. I recognised them from yesterday – she did a bang up job of parallel parking that thing behind me at the Flamingo Visitor Centre!
Passed this informative sign on the way…wonder how many I’ll be seeing over the next year!
Pa-Hay-Okee was the next boardwalk. You really begin to understand where the name “River of Grass” comes from after taking this .16 mile loop.
|Feeling kinda lonely out here…|
|Now you see me…|
|A reminder to look up at times, too!|
Last stop was at the Pineland Trail – the .4 mile one, not the 2-3 day one! It was the first cell phone signal I’d had since Saturday morning. A bit different from the previous walks – no boardwalk here.
I made use of the signal to decide where to head for the night. I wanted to stop at the Shark Valley area of the Everglades the next morning, so I looked for campgrounds along Tamiami Trail. I also decided to make a visit to Big Cypress National Preserve. It was right along my route, and would be another two stamps in my passport! Midway Campground looked good, and they had electric sites. So off I went…
Driving through civilisation again, I went north on Krome Avenue. So many fruit sellers along the way, but nowhere to park an RV. There were also a jaw-dropping number of people on off-road vehicles zipping along. Guess it’s a good way to get around the area!
West on Tamiami Trail, past all of the airboat rides and fishing spots, and I found Midway, but they had no spots available. My backup plan was a little further down Tamiami Trail – Monument Lake Campground. No hookups, but they had plenty of sites open. And I was greeted at the entrance by this wonderful sight:
|4G and 5 Bars!|
I was met halfway around the lake by the Campground Hosts, who told me to pick any spot that struck my fancy, but that they would recommend 8 or 9 right next to the lake. Done.
|Great view out the door|
|Now, how many alligators call this lake home?!?|
Made a loop around the lake to take in the views, and noticed that there wasn’t a single, solitary mosquito! Mentioned this to the hosts – apparently this is a comment they hear frequently from folks headed back up from Flamingo! It really did feel like a little slice of heaven! Kept my door open past sunset, and relished the fact that I didn’t need to douse myself in bug spray! Slept very, very well.