Monday, October 24, 2011

Inside Everglades, and On to Paradise

Woke to a BEAUTIFUL, blue, clear sky this morning and decent morning temps in the low 70s. HALLELUJAH! After checking the ground for creepy, crawly, potentially fatal critters and discovering no mosquitos in the sunshine, I started breakfast for the crew. While the girls ate on the safety of the picnic table (over pavement), I unloaded the trailer cabinets and did a little repair. It seems the SINGLE SCREW that anchored the entire cabinetry system to the floor just wasn't enough. After 38 years and who knows how many miles (more than 20,000 with us), the wood into which it was screwed split and the cabinets have been pushing out into the walkway for the past few days on the road.

Fortunately, my dad provided me the tools (both literal and figurative) to deal with such a problem. On one of the keys, I found a hardware store where I hunted down some L brackets, screws and a cordless drill (we needed a new drill at home anyway, right Dear?). Unfortunately, the drill motor is too long to fit between the wheel well of the trailer and the support post I was repairing, so I had to resort to the tool bag. The regular screwdriver was too long, too. So for the first stage of the screwing I used the drill's screw attachment (two-ended so it was a bit longer than it might have been otherrwise) and a wrench to make 3/4 of that installation. But then I hit some hard wood and just couldn't turn it.

I dug deeper into the tool bag (emptied it) and came across a tool I suspect was left in one of my vehicles when Dad worked on it some time in the past. I don't think you can buy one of these, but it's a little screwdriver with the last inch or so bent at a 90-degree angle. PERFECT! Well, perfect enough to nearly complete the job. Turns out the head of the screwdriver was finer than the head of the screw, so with probably one full turn (or four quarter turns since that's how it had to be done in the confined space) later, the center of the screw was stripped. I think a short, chubby screwdriver will do the trick to finish it off next stop.

I finished just in time for the girls and I to make the boat tour into the heart of Everglades park. We'd considered renting a canoe, but given my limited canoeing experience, our limited knowledge of the park, the variety of hazards here and the true stories of people going missing here (NEVER to be found), we opted to take what we all felt was the safer route. It was nice to have a guide point out the sights, identify plants and animals and share some local stories.

There's an inland waterway that connects Flamingo to Everglade City that would be fun for a rugged outdoors type with canoeing skill and a lot of backcountry skills. It's apparently a 90-mile paddle, best done "downstream" from north to south. Since there's little dirt in the mangrove river, some platforms have been erected for the hearty ones who attempt the trek. I wonder what climbs on the platforms overnight...

Rather than test the post-storm recovery time of the mosquito storm (and play back at camp with the snakes which, we were told by our guides today, our always plentiful in the campground), we opted to carry on to the coast. We stoppped at Shark Valley for another walk with the alligators before heading out of the park. This paved, flat path along a man-made canal leads 7 miles to an overlook that beckoned me. But the girls, both opposed to bicycle riding for whatever reason, had made it clear they didn't want to ride on this trip (or ever), so I left the bikes at home. Note to self (and others passing this way): bring the bikes anyway. It would have been fun to make the overlook. Then again, at bike speed we would have missed a lot of the details our slow meander allowed us.

Our dilly dallying, though, meant a late arrival on Sanibel Island, about which I'd done VERY little research. I'd hoped to camp at the island's only "campground," but when we arrived the RV park (ala Grandmother's Park) was closed for the night. Visitors were asked to camp in any of three spots by the entry and register in the a.m. That was all fine and good, but I took a little hike into the darkness and couldn't find the restroom. I suspect the campground is intended for entirely self-contained vehicles. We carried on to plan B - a hotel for our stay. After the heat and rain and wind and dirt and poisonous critters, I felt this break was in order.


  1. Nice photos, Lots of flora and fauna. looks like a nice place to visit. Don't think I could live there tho.

  2. We thought of you a lot, Motorcycle Grandma, as we saw all these beautiful birds. GREAT place for bird watching - and no feeders threatening ANYWHERE nearby! 'Course, then there ARE those gators and snakes and spiders...


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