February 26 – Florida City,

Not a long trip ahead so we stopped at the Oasis Visitor’s Center for the Big Cypress National Preserve and walked around. Same movie as before but I did pick up a stamp in the passport book.

I have really been impressed by the number of people visiting these national areas. Parking is an issue at every location – even though the Everglades is the 3rd largest NP in the lower 48 – so many people are enjoying these various eco-systems.

Arrived at Southern Comfort RV Park after lunch and got our assigned site. Nice snowbird park with paved roads and grass sites. Do have wifi. They have an activity calendar and will have to check out what we can do. Looking forward to visiting the Tiki Bar (within the park) and see what they have to offer.

After we got set up, we took off from Biscayne NP – only 15 miles away – and investigate what we need to do to see the main part of the park – underwater – Biscayne is all under water so it’s not a normal NP. Disappointed that the boat only goes out Thursday to Sunday and we are leaving the area on Thursday. So made reservations for the first boat on Thursday and we will bring the coach into the parking lot and visit the park.

Speaking of parking lot – couldn’t find a space to park and people were all over the grass. It was such a great day (temp in mid 80’s) and people were picnicking all over the Visitor Center’s yard.

Monday another warm day expected. Sure have enjoyed this weather – though sometimes it does get a little warm. But that is what the AC is for – I remember STL.dsc_0036

We took the day to catch up on things that we didn’t do at the last stop – wifi – shopping – NOT chasing mosquitos. Took the afternoon and went over to Schnebly Redlands Winery – the most southern winery in the lower 48. Brenda did the wine tasting – note no grapes in the wine but southern fruit. We bought a few bottle for future enjoyment.

On the same property as the winery was the Miami Brewery. Both businesses had huge tasting and dining and drinking rooms. I would imagine on the weekend it would be extremely crowded, but today only a few of us enjoying the labors of love of these two companies. Great afternoon.

Tonight Brenda decided to do a Cobb Salad Burger – avocado, egg, bacon, burger with Gorgonzola Cheese, tomato, and blue cheese dressing. Soooo Gooooood!img_2899

Bingo tonight – again one number to win some big pots but no luck for me – Brenda on the other hand won $100 with a double horizontal line bingo with even odd numbers – look it up, new game to us but she won.

Tuesday we are off to the Everglades NP – coming in on the east side. Brought the dogs as it is a long drive.

Remember how they say not to leave your dogs in the car alone – it’s true. We both stepped out of the car at the Nike Missile Base site and walked around. We had forgotten that we had purchased a foot long subway sandwich for lunch and it was on the car floor – not opened yet. When we returned Hansel had devoured 90% of it before we realized what he had done. No lunch for us – no supper for Hans.

The Nike Hercules Missile Base is one of the best preserved bases from the cold war. It is intact as it was when it was terminated in 1979. It was created in 1964 after the Cuban Missile Crisis. It reminded me of my childhood as we had a missile base in Monroe Michigan and did a class trip to tour the base.

It’s about a 35 mile trek through Everglades NP. We stopped at the Visitor’s center, Palm Resort VC which was a state park and a hunting camp for the rich and famous before the NP incorporated into the main park. We stopped at the Mahogany Forest

which was in the middle of the Everglades (seemed out of place but it just goes to show how many eco systems survive together), and Flamingo VC, which was on the southern end and is where the Everglades flow into the gulf. Each one had another stamp for the passport book – I didn’t watch any movies.  No flamingos!

I was amazed driving through the park that with every elevation change there is a difference in the tree and plant types. All of them controlled by the water and its level and freshness/salinity.

Did get to hear a ranger talk on Manatees and saw four in the bay adjacent to the Flamingo VC.

Returned to the campground in time to watch the Southern Comfort RV Park Mardi Gras Parade. Brenda got beads and didn’t have to show anything – I got candy.

One thing we have noticed in this area is that all the stores and signs seem to be in Spanish – I understand there is quite the Cuba population present.

We hit the bonus tonight – no not bingo – we figured we might as well try the local culture for dinner – used Yelp app and found Sorino Brothers. Oh and was it good, not much to look at on the outside but the food was good and plentiful.

Difficult thing was no one spoke English behind the counter and we don’t speak Spanish – finally one of the customers understood our dilemma and asked if we wanted help – oh yes we responded. He explained all the different choices and what was good – this was cafeteria style. We finally made it thru the line and had way more food than we would eat in 3 sittings. Great place to dine!  This was after Brenda finished all she could eat.img_2902

Wednesday again hot and humid – getting to the point of wanting to head north – but still have a couple of weeks left in Florida.

We took off to Biscayne NP to get our movie and stamp over with. It became a NP in 1980. Tomorrow is the boat ride out to Biscayne – since this NP is all underwater. Biscayne is the largest marine park in the NP system. Only 5% of the park is above sea level, while the rest is submerged.

The park is trying to protect the coral reefs of the area. (pictures of a picture – I did not dive.

The movie was one of the best because it showed all the different aspects and aspects of the life in this area.

Able to walk some of the boardwalks and see the bay and boats.

Later grilled the salmon and vegetables and pineapple (soaked in Rum – yes the Salmon was soaked in rum too) on the grill tonight.

Thursday we got the coach ready to leave and then we headed over to Biscayne NP to take our journey across the bay to visit one of the keys. Weather was threatening rain but so far it is holding off. I can tell you that it is hotter and more humid than I like. We took showers this morning but we are all hot and sweaty before we get on the road.

Boarded our boat with a group of about 42 people and a volunteer ranger. She discussed the history and the mangroves and the reefs and the animals. Learned a few more tidbits.

After an hour ride across the bay, we arrived at Boca Chita Key. At one time this was owned by the Honeywell Family and was a resort for “rich” people.

Was able to go up into a light house (never used as a light house but looked like one) and see the area stretching out into the bay and ocean.

Did you know the difference between keys and islands – I do now. Islands are formed from some geologic activity eg: volcanos, while keys are formed from biological activity eg: mangroves congregating and leaves filling in the spaces to make land – now you know!

Even got to see some “cuban refugee boats” that had been abandoned.

Hiked around the key and got back on the boat. Returned home.

We did meet two couples that were into visiting National Parks and we shared many stories about our adventures.

After returning to the coach, we headed to Key Largo, Florida.

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