Posted by: sunnyharvy | March 23, 2017

The Journey Continues Northward

Departing the Everglades felt like the beginning of our long trip home. It is still cold in Rhode Island, so we are not in any hurry to get back, but the turn northward has been made.

We had to stop at this legendary produce stand in Homestead. Robert opened it as a child in 1959 selling fruit from his father’s farm. Today it is so popular that tour buses include it on their itinerary.

Robert himself still works there every day.

Our next stop of note was at the Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens in Delray Beach. I was surprised to learn that this is the nation’s only museum dedicated to Japanese living culture. We enjoyed its gardens, which are recognized among the finest outside Japan, and an outstanding lunch in their Pan-Asian cafe.

Six distinct gardens are inspired by famous gardens in Japan.

This modern garden emphasizes the relationship between interior and exterior spaces.

Morikami Falls combine massive boulders and flowing water in a composition of dynamic tensions.

Koi feeding frenzy.

Hotei, their resident god of happiness.

Hiraniwa flat garden.

Bedner’s in Boynton Beach was our Harvest Host for two nights.

Fresh fruits and vegetables, caught-today scallops, and a bottle of wine.

The Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge was a short bike ride from our campsite.

Not sure what to think about this sign. Why was it posted here?

We peddled miles of trails with nobody else in sight.

This big mama alligator was guarding her babies.

Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge is the only remnant of the northern Everglades in Palm Beach County.

Boondocking at Ted and Sandy’s house in Hobe Sound. Thank you!

How did 27 years fly by so fast?

Our next Harvest Host campsite was next to the vines at Summer Crush Winery in Fort Pierce.

Wine tasting room.

Pond with white sand beach and gazebo.

Somebody has a sense of humor.

We arrived just in time for the Post Paddy Party!

Local band Uproot Hootenanny had my toes tappin’.

And the Young Dubliners rocked the house!

We have spent the last few days relaxing in Cocoa Beach where a fellow Westy owner allows us to camp in his motel’s parking lot. The beach is just a few yards away so we go there everyday to soak up the sun and swim in the surf. It has been great to stop for a few days, but we don’t want to overstay our welcome. If today’s high winds subside, we will be heading out tomorrow.

Posted by: sunnyharvy | March 16, 2017

No Flamingos in Flamingo

We reluctantly headed north off the keys and took a hard left turn onto Route 9336 into the southeastern section of Everglades National Park. We were excited about meeting up with fellow travelers Keith and Cheryl in Flamingo. We originally made their acquaintance in New Brunswick and Newfoundland, Canada in 2011 and visited them at their home in Denver three years ago.

This is all you see if you don’t get out of your car in the Everglades.

Our beautiful campsite in Long Pine Key Campground.

Nice view from haRVy from that same campsite.

After one night at Long Pine Key we spent a day exploring several short scenic trails along the road from there to Flamingo. Photo above depicts our first indication of the mosquito wars to come.

The view from the Pa-hay-okee Lookout is vast.

The two photos above are panoramic. Click to see them larger.

Bald Cypress is a deciduous conifer that grows on saturated and seasonally inundated soils.

Florida Bay from Flamingo, where there are no flamingos, only pink buildings.

The mid-century modern visitor center that has survived three hurricanes.

We were happy to see that recent high winds had brought down the level on the Mosquito Meter. The prior week the indicator had been in the hysterical zone. Unfortunately, it did creep back up a bit during our stay.

We visited this Osprey family in the campground daily.

Not sure why this mockingbird hung out there too. Do they eat fish? You can’t tell in this photo, but the osprey has a fish under his foot that he is tearing apart to feed to his offspring in the nest above.

Mother and child. Almost couldn’t believe I got this shot with my little pocket camera.

This friendly manatee was eating algae off the marina dock.

While this rather large crocodile sunbathed on the boat launch ramp.

Keith and Cheryl took us for an evening drive to Paurotis Pond where we all enjoyed lots of bird activity

and this beautiful sunset (while beating off hordes of mosquitoes).

Keith and Cheryl making an Everglades fashion statement.

When it became necessary to wear our net bug suits day and night we decided it was time to leave. We spent one more night at Long Pine Key with significantly fewer bugs. On our way out of the park we hiked the acclaimed Anhinga Trail where we viewed several more examples of the resident wildlife.

Anhinga drying his wings.

Gar Fish.

Bromeliads and other air plants becoming more brilliant as spring approaches.

Too many alligators to count.

Here’s looking at you!

Posted by: sunnyharvy | March 7, 2017

Key West Adventure Part 2

In my last post I mentioned that there are a lot of tourists here in Key West. Since then I learned that  approximately 1.3 million people visit each year, according to the Chamber of Commerce.

One day I ventured into town on my own. I took the trolley tour to get a good overview of Key West’s Oldtown district. After lunch at Amigo’s Tortilla Bar I walked a few of the backstreets checking out the different styles of Key West Architecture and some beautiful gardens.

I could be happy living in this one.

Or maybe this one…

You can barely see the architecture behind the greenery in many areas.

Loved the mid-century modern look of this place.

This lovely Art Deco theater is still in business.

This one serves as a Walgreen’s drug store.

Another day we had lunch at Pepe’s, which is over 100 years old.

Pepe’s has a rather unusual way of presenting your bill…be careful!

My trolley tour guide said there are 120 bars in town and I wouldn’t doubt it. Besides the original Margaritaville, Sloppy Joe’s may be the most famous.

This building contains three bars. According to the sign at the lower left corner of photo above, the third floor Garden of Eden is clothing optional. We did not check that one out. Actually, we didn’t frequent any bars during our visit. Too much noise! Must be old fogies, eh?

This one claims to be the oldest bar in Florida.

A relatively sturdy homemade boat on which a dozen Cuban refugees successfully made it to American shores.

Poster seen inside the Custom House museum as part of the exhibit about the Navy in Key West.

Gumbo Limbo forest at the Key West Wildlife Center. Also called the tourist tree due to it’s peeling red bark.

Can you count all the Ibis perched here at the Wildlife Center?

Lots of dinghies at the dock from cruising boats moored offshore.

Busy yacht harbor. 

What are these people lining up for?

The chance to take this photo.

Dark chocolate covered key lime pie on a stick…the best!

Love these colorful buoys. These were for sale, but I found one that I’m taking home. Will display in my garden alongside a wooden buoy I picked up in Newfoundland.

The end of the road that begins in Maine!

And…just one more gypsy chicken.

 

 

 

Posted by: sunnyharvy | March 7, 2017

Wild and Windy Key West

Key West has something for everyone. Unfortunately, EVERYONE comes here! After the depression, someone had the great idea to promote this place as a tourist destination (and never looked back). It’s amazing how many tourists come to this tiny town at the end of a chain of 43 islands connected by 42 bridges on the remarkable 113 mile Overseas Highway.

Our first stop along the highway was on Key Largo at the John Pennikamp State Park. We arrived fairly early in the day after a not terribly restful night camped at the Cracker Barrel restaurant in Florida City. The ranger said the campground was full (as all state parks in Florida are this time of year), but that we could check back later “just in case.” After enjoying the morning at the beach we returned to the ranger who kindly let us move into campsite #1, usually kept empty in case of “emergency.” We made full use of this park by hiking, biking, swimming, and kayaking. We had hoped to snorkel, but the sea was too rough and the best sites too far from shore.

Al doing his morning exercise routine on the beach.

Friendly local expresses himself.

Paddling through the mangroves.

We don’t ordinarily stay camped in one place for two weeks, but at $17 a night and no place better to go, we went for it in Key West. Al’s military base privileges really paid off this time. Waterfront sites like the one we scored go for upwards of $150 night at public campgrounds and even those are hard to come by.

The campground at Trumbo Point is not much more than a large grassy field (no hookups) but you can’t beat the location a short bike ride from town. Notice haRVy front and center!

The view from haRVy.

A couple of our colorful neighbors.

There are no naturally sandy beaches on Key West, but some nice ones have been created with imported sand. We visited a few over the course of our stay. We had hoped to snorkel here too, but again our attempts were thwarted by strong winds and murky water. The warm sea was fine for swimming though.

Truman Beach on the military base.

Higgs Beach (above and below).

Smathers Beach.

Fort Zachary Taylor beach (above and below).

Our next door neighbor at the campground, who has camped here every winter for 22 years (!), told us about a place where one can see what Key West was like before civilization moved in. Didn’t take us long to decide to check it out.

Geiger Beach is definitely off the beaten track.

We walked about a mile before high tide impeded our progress.

Apparently “Red” created and lived in this driftwood and coral shack.

A Key West “must do” activity is the world famous daily sunset celebration on Mallory Wharf that has been going on for decades. Besides the natural show put on by Mother Nature local talent entertains the crowds for tips.

Don’t try this at home!

And then, of course, there are the gypsy chickens, descendants of fowl brought to the island by settlers for meat, eggs, and cockfighting entertainment.

To be continued…

Posted by: sunnyharvy | February 22, 2017

Birds, Gators, and Dolphins

Things are now very busy here in Southern Florida, which makes unplanned traveling more difficult. We were not able to get a campsite at Koreshan so we camped overnight at Walmart in Naples. The next morning we headed to nearby Delnor-Wiggins Pass State Park for breakfast and time on the beach. Although it was very windy, we found a sheltered area to soak up some sun.

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Short hike out the boardwalk to lookout tower.

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Walk around point and into inlet.

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Admiring unknown artist’s creativity.

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Beautiful hawk (red shouldered?) at Collier-Seminole State Park where our day visit was cut short by a voracious mosquito population. We did manage to score some much needed showers and drinking water before making a hasty retreat.

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Limestone road to Burns Lake Campground where we stayed for the 3-day holiday weekend.

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We were happy to get a reservation at this quiet off-the-beaten-track location within the Big Cypress National Preserve. Just $12 a night with our Golden Access Pass!

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Sunset from our lakeside campsite.

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We knew nothing about this area before arriving. After an hour in the Visitor Center we were happy we had three days to explore.

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We took a boat tour out of Everglades City where I snapped this pic of an Osprey in her nest.

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As well as this one of two bottle nose dolphins.

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Al caught this good one of a dolphin jumping our boat wake.

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Colorful lawn art in Everglades City.

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Alligators are everywhere in Big Cypress.

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Lots of birds too. I believe this is a Little Blue Heron.

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A yearling gator along one of our boardwalk hikes.

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An Anhinga spears lunch.

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Another hawk fishing for dinner, first from the shore.

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Then from a tree branch above.

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We even got to view this magnificent Crocodile, a fairly rare sight, on the Marsh Trail. South Florida is the only place in the world you can find both alligators and crocodiles in the wild.

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While we hiked down the trail he turned around to show us his other side.

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Birds are plentiful!

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A curiosity alongside the highway.

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The story behind the “smallest post office in the United States.”

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This tree decided to hang onto the boardwalk railing for extra support.

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Air plants are plentiful and beautiful.

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One more gator for your viewing pleasure.

 

Posted by: sunnyharvy | February 21, 2017

An Inside-Out World

A few miles east of Fort Myers, Boondockers Welcome host Larry, offered up this beautiful river front location as our free campsite.

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Our next stop proved to be quite peculiar. Koreshan State Historic Site is where Dr. Cyrus Teed established a communal colony in 1894. He brought his followers to Estero to build the “New Jerusalem” for his new faith, Koreshanity. The colony, known as the Koreshan Unity, believed that the entire universe existed within a giant, hollow sphere!

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One of the models Teed used to explain his belief.

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What do you think about his “proof”?

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What remains of their once vibrant community are 11 beautifully maintained historic structures that date from 1882-1920 and landscaped grounds including unique ornamental exotic vegetation from throughout the world.

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Bamboo Landing, where all goods were delivered before there were roads.

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Beautiful staircase built by one of the members.

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One of just a few private residences. Most lived in dorm type accommodations.

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This massive engine powered the settlement.

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The power house control panel.

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Gopher tortoises are among today’s residents at Koreshan State Historic Site.

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