13th January – Day 6 (Everglades)

Started the day off with a drive up to Ona, Florida.  No particular reason.  Just liked the name, and when I zoomed in on Google Maps the fact that they had a post office popped up.  Next postcard sent to Nan!

The Post Office is located on State Road 64, which is part of the Florida Cracker Trail.  I followed that west, headed towards Bradenton and the De Soto National Memorial.

I still hadn’t heard anything from Camping World regarding the repairs, so I figured I may as well buy a Florida State Parks Annual Pass…I’ll be down here for a bit.  Lake Manatee State Park seemed like an interesting place to stop, even though they don’t have any actual manatees here (they get asked the question enough that the ranger quickly produced a double-sided info sheet on where in Florida I COULD find the animals!).  There were a couple of walking trails off the day-use car park, so I braved the slight chill in the air to go for a stroll.  Looks like Google’s Location History got the gist of what I was up to:

Need to look into some of the tracking apps to see if I can find a better way of mapping where I’ve been.

The trails were, well, rather flat.  That’s the case with a lot of the parks around here!  Nice walk, though, and the breeze was refreshing!


Got back on the road towards De Soto National Memorial, but stopped by Publix briefly.  After re-emerging from the signal deadzone in the Everglades, all I’d been hearing about was the $1.5 billion lottery!  I mean EVERYONE was talking about it!  Figured I couldn’t win it if I wasn’t in it, so added a little of my $$ to the pot.  Didn’t win (surprise, surprise!).

Started to hit a bit of traffic in Bradenton, and made a note to find a different way back.


Entry to De Soto National Memorial
The entry guard

It was getting quite cold and blustery by the time I pulled in to De Soto.  So nippy that the re-enactor in the mock village off to the left had called it quits early.  Can’t blame him – I don’t think there were many people around, and even fewer that would have wanted to sit for any period of time!  The hut just to the left of the entryway was a bit of fun.  Not everyday you walk up to a thatch structure in Florida that speaks to you in German.  Tried to get some footage, but the wind noise was just too overpowering.

The Visitor Centre was small, but very informative.  There was a short film that went over what De Soto got up to when he arrived in the Americas.  He was quite an ass, to be honest, but I’m glad I learned what I did from the film!  The little shop was well stocked, and I spotted a range of dog accessories printed with a “Bark Ranger” motif.  Brilliant!  This park, although tiny, was very pet friendly.  The two walking trails both allowed dogs, and I saw plenty on my circuit.

Speaking of the trails…they appeared quite pleasant to start with – crushed shell path, and foliage that let through what little sunlight was available.

Then you round a corner, and what the heck?!?

The first two actually made me jump back a little.  Probably should have been paying more attention, but I was trying to make heads or tails of the map at the time!

The creepy figures (which included Native Americans, Spanish explorers, and a number of slaves) continued to keep watch for the duration of the short path.  Luckily they disappeared when I hit the “longer” route (only 1 mile, so not all that long).


Needing to get back to Tampa, I set off on a bit of a different route home – one that avoided all of the traffic buildup in the middle of Bradenton.  It also took me past a little market that stocked some local raw milk and butter.


Deans Fresh Farm Market.  I would have stocked up on so much stuff if I was staying on the road.  All of the fruits and vegetables looked so delicious, but I stuck with some local salsa, local tortilla chips, and the aforementioned milk and butter.  Wonderful owner shared some stories about travelling the country in a Class C, but I didn’t stay too long as it was fairly busy and my vehicle is fairly large!

Hit some traffic again on the way back to Tampa.  Won’t be missing that when I’m on the road (I’ll do my best to navigate around it when I can!).  Stopped in at Camping World to see if there was any word – not yet – then made it home right around dark.

Mini-trip #1 completed!  Hopefully on to more adventures soon!


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