The Florida Keys behind us, it was back to the mainland and points north for us. We did a short drive to an overnight stay at the Miccosukee Casino/Resort on the west end of Miami. This was another fairly nice Indian casino with a very large outback parking area and the price was exactly right – zilch. Just had to check in with security and let them know how many days we would be there. And Jeanne, of course, had to earn our keep at the slots. This particular casino offered no card games except for a poker room. The only drawback for us was during the night a black Escalade pulled in within 3-4’ of the back of our Jeep (still hooked up to the bus), headlights glaring into our bedroom window, with engine running, and remained like that for about 10 minutes. Initially I thought someone had just pulled over to play on their phone, but after 10 minutes of no change, I stuck my little Mustang into my shorts pocket and went out to investigate. I found the driver passed out behind her wheel, a young gal of the local tribe, and unresponsive to my pounding on her door/window. Just the kinda stuff I have been running from for the past 6 years of retirement! A quick phone call to security got their local tribal police to respond and clean up the mess. Onward and upward…Still wandering around without reservations anywhere in particular, we found a 2 day slot at the Midway Campground in the middle of the Big Cypress Nat’l Preserve (a swamp surrounded by the Everglades). It was a very nice campground circled around a small pond right off Hwy. 41.
Our first day we took off on the bicycles, following Hwy. 41 which also followed a narrow creek-like piece of the swamp. We got to see a whole bunch of gators, babies to adults, scattered along the water.
Day 2 we decided to go to Shark Valley and take a tram tour through some of the Everglades. It was raining on us most of the tour but we got a narrated tour of the area, saw a couple of gators and native birds, and the tour guide was entertaining as well.
One problem that is not uncommon for us is we basically had no internet during this stay. That makes it rough on moving day, with no way to research for a next location. So we packed up and headed west aiming for the Naples area. Not long into the drive, internet came available, so Jeanne found a week’s stay for us at the Pine Island Resort in St. James City, FL. It is a typical snowbird park with lots of sites jam-packed on top of each other, and is a KOA/Encore/Thousand Trails combination park. Although not the most scenic of parks, Pine Island Resort does have plenty of activities for all ages such as pool/spa, playground, shuffleboard, horseshoes, basketball, tennis, pickleball, dog run, and a clubhouse for group gatherings.
Our first excursion was to check out Sanibel Island and the beach there. The big drawback to Pine Island is it takes a long drive to go ANYWHERE! Even the 2 closest civilized cities, Cape Coral and Ft. Myers, are a half hour away minimum. To make matters worse in the case of getting to Sanibel Island, the bridge over has a $6 toll, $2 to get back, and parking at the beach over there is $4 per hour. Ridiculous costs, considering the beach is a big nothing on my scale-of-wow.
The bicycles got more work in when we took off for St James City (the far end of Pine Island). We found no beach areas to lollygag at, but did find a couple of potential eating & drinking establishments that we would visit soon. One, the Ragged Ass Saloon, was the local biker bar. We went there with our newfound Canadian friends Paul and Dianne (neighbors at the RV park) and had a nice dinner and a beer or four. Jeanne and I not being the typical bar-hopper types, it has been quite a while since I was in a bar surrounded by a bunch of drunks, especially hard core drunk bikers, but, surprisingly, I got a kick out of it. Some people are so easily amused…The second place we scoped out was Woody’s where Jeanne took me out to lunch and we had a lovely date. Of course I had to take advantage of a photo op while at Woody’s. They had a satirical duplicate land marker in their parking lot area to that marker in Key West designated as the Southernmost Point in the continental U.S.A. Only Woody’s marker is designated the Drunkenmost Point in the continental U.S.A. Good times with my hot babe!
Jeanne wanted to make a road trip to the Sarasota area and Siesta Keys, so we did. She heard that Siesta Beach was one of the top beach locations in the country, so we tripped on up and promptly discovered two things. 1-It is a very large, very white sand, very beautiful beach. 2-Our usual lack of paying attention to things around us guarantees a bite in the butt. We arrived to find we were smack dab in the middle of their Spring Break. Kids EVERYWHERE! Wall to wall bodies. Parking lot full (at least they don’t charge for parking). Needless to say, we kept on going and I got zero pictures of beach.
During our stay here in Florida we encountered a family medical emergency for one of Jeanne’s kin in Branson, MO. So, our motto comes true again, “plans change every day and twice on Sundays…” We decided to make a warp drive detour up to Branson. We made it in 3 stops. First was the SKP park in Bushnell, FL. Not anything to write home about. Second stop was overnighter at a Cracker Barrel near Peachtree City, where we at least got to poke our heads in and say howdy to my cousin Dave, his wife Kim, and daughter Dana. We had not seen them for years. Stop #3 was an overnight at the Walmart RV Resort in Tupelo, MS. (No, I am being a smart donkey, there is no such thing as a “Walmart RV Resort”). Then we landed at the SKP park known as Turkey Creek RV Park outside of Branson, MO.
So there you have it, a full accounting of our shortened stay in the great state of Forida. And now we are back to our “no plan” mode, taking life as it comes. Still aiming for the northeast parts of our country. We’ll see…