Friday – January 3, 2014
Big Cypress National Preserve
What a difference a day makes! It was in the eighties here yesterday. Overnight, a cold front from the north hit southern Florida. It is a mostly sunny day, a few clouds scattered around the sky, but the temperature is only in the high fifties. It won’t last long though. It will be up in the eighties again this weekend.
We have met three other campers from Illinois here at the Midway Campground. A retired couple from Metropolis, a retired couple from Rockford and a retired couple that are now living full time in their fifth-wheel trailer. We all agreed we were happy to escape the frigid weather in Illinois this winter.
We met another interesting couple, Jim and Sharon from Grand Haven, Michigan. Jim developed a desire for sailing after having spent four years in the Navy. They now spend most of the year on a 1988, 40-foot, fiberglass hull trawler that they purchased six years ago. They decided to purchase a trawler based on the sea worthiness and fuel economy of these vessels. They return home for the summer months to take care of their medical checkups. When late summer arrives, they return to their trawler to travel the river waterways throughout the central part of the U.S. During the winter months they tour the Florida coastline and visit the Bahamas. Jim enjoys snorkeling and capturing lobster for dinner in these two locations. Ironically, his wife has a fear of water and will not venture into it. My wife, also named Sharon, has the same fear. Go figure! Jim and I agreed this phenomenon must have some link to the name Sharon!
Jim joined Sharon and I on our 5-mile walk this morning. Jim and I were talking so much that it seemed in no time at all we had completed the 5 miles. It was a very enjoyable walk indeed.
We took a drive this afternoon, west of Midway Campground on US-41 to reacquaint ourselves with some of our favorite areas to visit in the Big Cypress National Preserve.
Midway Campground - Milepost 52
This campground provides 26 RV campsites with electrical hookups. Facilities include a restroom with flush toilets, a potable water station and a dump station. Camping fee: $30.00 (50% discount with Golden Age Pass).
The Clyde Butcher Gallery - Milepost 54
This gallery contains breathtaking, black and white photography of the Big Cypress Swamps and Everglades National Park.
The Oasis Visitor Center - Milepost 55
This is the best place to see alligators. The abundance of wildlife and marine food sources, plus the depth of water in the canal, provide the perfect habitat for alligators.
Monument Lake Campground - Milepost 60
This campground has 26 RV campsites with no hookups. Facilities include a restroom with flush toilets and a potable water station. There is no dump station. Campers can use the dump station at Midway Campground. Camping Fee: $28.00 (50% discount with Golden Age Pass).
Kirby Storter Boardwalk - Milepost 63
This elevated boardwalk takes the visitor through prairie, dwarf cypress and into the heart of a cypress strand. Alligators, wading birds and a variety of migrating songbirds can be found here.
The HP Williams Wayside - Milepost 69
This is a very scenic picnic area located alongside of a canal. A boardwalk provides a view of the lush green vegetation flourishing beneath the crystal clear water. This scenic, underwater wonderland provides the perfect habitat for fish, alligators, turtles, snakes and water birds. A dense cypress strand borders one side and with the nicely landscaped picnic area on the other side.
The Big Cypress National Preserve Visitor Center - Milepost 73
This visitor center provides an informative overview of the area with wildlife exhibits and a 15-minute film. A boardwalk behind the visitor center overlooks a beautiful scenic waterway.
Everglades City - South of US-41 on FL-29.
This is a most interesting place to visit. Great seafood, fast-food restaurants are located right on the waterfront.
Tomorrow another adventure begins.