12th January – Day 5 (Everglades)

Today started with some light rain and a full grey-water tank!  With all the showers and the kefir cleanup I needed to do some emptying!  Pulling out of the campground, I attempted to use the dump station.  No luck – the setup was a bit different from what I’m used to, and my sewer hose didn’t stand a chance of reaching.  No worries…I’d try on down the road.

Checking out of the campground, I popped into the little shop.  Turns out, this is also the SkunkApe Research Center.  Couldn’t resist a t-shirt!

First stop for the day was the Ochopee Post Office – smallest in the US.  I’m sending postcards to my grandmother back in England, and this was the perfect spot to send the first batch.

Second, another attempt at grey-water dumping.  I had a “free pass” for a Big Cypress dump station from my night at Monument Lake.  The location was along the route, so I pulled in.  Very nice facility, but I needed an attachment I didn’t have.  Strike two.

Swung back in to the Big Cypress Swamp Welcome Centre, just ’cause.  Yup, manatees still there, and yup, still didn’t photograph well!


Next destination – Audubon’s Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary near Immokalee.  I’d found this on the Collectible Tokens website last night…guess there are benefits to starting new collections!  I’ve always loved birds and the work Audubon does, so this seemed like a good fit.  I joined the Society, as members receive a discount on admission, and there are over 40 centres nationwide – I’ll try to put as many on the trip itinerary as I can!

Click on the picture to go to the interactive map on Audubon’s website

They have a boardwalk trail through a stand of Bald Cypress that is well worth a visit if you are in the area.  It was a bit late in the day for prime bird watching, and there were a good number of (noisy) people on the trail, but I decided to complete the full circuit.  While there were some complaints that there were no birds to be seen, if you stood still for just a moment, you could hear them all around.  My favourites were the very busy woodpeckers; such rhythmic hammering!  While I didn’t get many pictures of birds, I did enjoy the flora.

The green pops so much!
Loving the reflections in the still water.

And then there was this guy…

I happened upon him just off the boardwalk while noone else was around.  He didn’t move the entire time I was watching.  Maybe it was still a little cold?  It was his choice of a sunning spot that had me confused.

That’s him, posed directly under his identification placard.  I was so utterly convinced he wasn’t real that I doubled back at the end of the walk to have another look.  There was a crowd this time, and he was moving.  So…real!

As time was moving on, I decided to push towards Fort Myers.  The next location on my radar was De Soto National Memorial, which I wanted to hit tomorrow.  Fort Myers seemed like a decent place to get some petrol, find a dump station, and figure out where to spend the night.  The petrol part was no problem – I had my choice of Love’s or Flying J.  I opted for the latter, as my Good Sam membership gives me a bit of a discount.  I then dropped in on the Camping World across the street to use the dump station.  Fail…it was broken (not sure how a dump station is broken, but I didn’t want to find out!).  After buying a longer sewer hose and the attachment I was missing earlier, I sat in the lot trying to find a site for the night.

Wow!  The snowbird situation in Fort Myers is ten times worse than I could have imagined!  I called a couple of campgrounds, and they were polite enough not to laugh over the phone!  It quickly became apparent that there would be no electric site available!  Again, I’m self-contained, so no big issue.  However, my waste tank was still full, and that wasn’t good.  I doubled back to the Love’s and was finally able to empty the tank.  It was an uphill situation, but I succeeded with a bit of effort and no major disaster!

Arcadia looked like a good spot for a free stay at Walmart, so I headed north.  I got there right around dusk, and joined a small group that had already gathered.  Walking back to the camper after restocking, I realised that my two closest neighbours were both Bounders, just from different eras!


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