http://www.blogger.com/html?blogID=4316350785635987648 Cave Dwellings

Flamingo Campground, Everglades National Park, FL

Flamingo Campground, Everglades National Park, FL
01-18-2016

Cave Dwellings

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Finally!! Dry pavement and NO MUD!

MacGyver and I are now safely ensconced on a concrete pad with stone yard at Ortona Campground, 8 miles East of LaBelle, FL. What a relief to be out of the mud…Don’t get me wrong, the campground was fair, the lady running it was very nice, but it was too close quarters and too grassy/muddy for us! Here is our new digs…Lot # 44, looking over the entrance, but a very nice big, dry spot.

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We were here last December for a couple weeks and had a site right on the river, viewing the locks. That was a great spot, but this is just fine too…and we were lucky to get anything in the month of February at this place..

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This morning we took a walk across the dam and it is running full with all the locks open to allow Lake Okeechobee to lower since all of the rain…

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Standing on top of the locks is a bit scary for me..the power of water is amazing…

“Ortona Lock and Dam, Florida...Stretching out from both directions, the waterway extends to the Gulf of Mexico using the Caloosahatchee River and to the Atlantic Ocean using the St. Lucie Canal. Covering 152 miles, the waterway serves as both a commercial and recreational link with several overnight-docking facilities along the way. The Corps constructed and currently manages five locks along the Waterway. Ortona Lock and Dam were constructed in 1937 for navigation purposes. Cost of construction: Approximately $1.1 million...Lockage: Approximately 9,500 vessels lock through annually; of these about 96% are recreational vessels.” And there is your history lesson for the day.

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Left is a look from inside the lock..and right is a view of the lock and dam from the Northeast side of it…

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Above is one of the pleasure boats locking through..Endless Summer from Maryland..I want one of these.

We have had some very pretty sunrises here at Ortona…

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…and I am one “happy camper” to have a nice dry place to sit and soak some of ol’ sol rays without being in a mud puddle!!

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I know, I know…pretty scary..and YES, I do have a tube top on. I realized after Dennis snapped this that it looks otherwise..No, I am not THAT crazy..Although, the fact that at age 67 I even put one of those tube tops on is proof of my insanity..HEY…IT’S MY YARD!!!! Yep, I am one happy camper!!!

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Found a real gem in the middle of nowhere.

Last week, Dennis and I waded through the muddy moat surrounding our camper to go for groceries. We put on sandals and rolled up pantslegs to get to our truck. One of the peeps at our park told us there was a new Publix in a little town called Ave Maria, South of Imokalee. Sometimes I get so fed up with WalMart I have to go somewhere else, so off we went. Following the sign to Ave Maria, we got a real surprise when we came upon it…The whole “town” is built around a The Ave Maria Catholic Church..What a gem in the middle of the Corkscrew Swamp area!!

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The town was planned with the large Ave Maria Oratory church in the center, the facade of which displays sculptor Márton Váró's 30-foot-tall (9 m) sculpture of the Annunciation, depicting the Archangel Gabriel greeting the Virgin Mary with the words "Ave Maria" (Hail Mary).  Váró's "Good Shepherd" sculpture is also featured inside the Oratory, also carved in marble from Cave Michelangelo in Carrara, Italy.”

“Ave Maria is a planned college town currently under development in Collier County, near Immokalee and Naples. It is an unincorporated community that was founded in 2005 by Ave Maria Development Company, a partnership consisting of the Barron Collier Companies and the Ave Maria Foundation led by Roman Catholic philanthropist and activist Tom Monaghan, founder of Domino's Pizza and the leader of Ave Maria University at the time.  Monaghan served as president of Ave Maria University until February 2011.  The development of the town was made possible when the Florida legislature created the Ave Maria Stewardship Community District, a limited local government whose purpose is to provide community infrastructure, including community development systems, facilities, services, projects, and improvements.   The town is home to various institutions and businesses, and local events are covered by a local online newspaper called the Ave Herald.   Ave Maria is one of the top-selling master planned communities in the USA. Ave Maria is known to have an enormous mosquito problem and has been sprayed more than 30 times via airplane with pesticides by the Collier Mosquito Control District in 2015 making it the most sprayed area in Southwest Florida.”

I did some copy and paste to make sure I got all of the facts right. Here are some photos of the Sanctuary…

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After Dennis and I got done taking photos of the church, we came outside and it had FINALLY quit raining ..I told Den we should have gone to church a few days earlier and maybe we wouldn’t have had to pole vault into our truck this morning…However, it began raining again shortly there after, squelching any “devine intervention” ideas I had about us two sinners entering that church..At any rate, this “downtown” area circles the plaza where the church is..

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Wow!! This is a very “high rent” district. Lots of boutique like shops and many empty shops. And…we went to the Publix and I could only afford to buy some  79cent gravy mix..Iceburg lettuce was $2.59..I kid you not!! Here is a photo I snagged off the internet..It is an aerial view of the town…

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This whole thing made me feel like the movie “The Stepford Wives”..way too perfect and almost too quiet. There is quite a bit of controversy surrounding the building of this community…I will give you a link and suggest you read it..very interesting stuff..Ave Maria

As it turned out, MacGyver and I opted to save our money and stop at the Winn Dixie in Imokalee, but we were very glad we drove to Ave Maria, if for no other reason than to see that beautiful church!! Oh, and I  have one more photo..

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This is what we waded through beginning last Tuesday night and ending Saturday..today…Snakes and frogs and gators, oh my!!

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

“Don't know why, there's no sun up in the sky… Stormy weather..”

According to the locals here in South Florida, these rains lately are  the worst January rain events for this area in 10 years…Yep..we are in the brunt of a stretch of rain and storms, producing small tornadoes and heavy thunderstorms..Our weather radio goes off on a regular basis for the last weeks..We are at a new place that we have never stayed at before, called Palms and Pines RV Park in Felda, FL. It is a nice park, albeit we are all parked on grass…and the Hiker seems to be in one of many “low spots”. This morning, MacGyver and I put on our sandals and Crocs and waded through our “moat” to take our clothes to the laundry here in the park. It is just a short walk for us, but the trial is just getting out to the road in front of our RV…After checking for frogs, gators, snakes and other swimming  reptiles, I gingerly stepped out the door and hauled my arse as fast as I could to the HIGHER blacktop..

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Holy castle moat, Batman…We’re on a deserted island!!

However, on the up side of this park, there are some nice birds hanging out here.

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The Sandhill Cranes walk through this park on a regular regiment..and the Painted Buntings are here all month at the feeders…SCORE!! I also hear an owl every night and early morning that I would love to spot for a photo op..I think he deliberately taunts me. I keep looking out my window, knowing he is near, but he usually shows up when I am either in bed, or just getting my teeth brushed!!! My hope is to catch him some early evening..I am hoping he is a Barred Owl…

We drove to Immokalee, a town about 8 miles from here. I heard that they have a lovely Farmer’s Market every Saturday and I was NOT disappointed!

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I have never seen carrots so darn big in my life!! Although not our favorite veggie, these were amazing!

This park has a really neat pond/swamp area to the rear of the park, and just behind us is a field with some great “palms and pines”..

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Speaking of Palms, check this out…

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I took this photo out my window right next to my recliner in the rear of the Hiker…Dennis did an awesome job backing our rig in and not taking out this tall Palm..He “missed it by thaaaaat much”… Oh, and we have a couple banana trees here at the park too, but don’t pick one…the banana police will haul you off!!

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We will be here in Felda for another week.  By then, we may have to make a trip to Ft. Myers and trade this RV in for a boat….I really wish the rain Gods that be would back off for a while and let us dry out before we  have to squish our rig carefully through the mud/grass and get it safe and sound on the blacktop park roads. At this point I think it only fair that I show you a photo of our site without the “waterfront property”…

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…and this is what a great sunrise looks like here (if we ever get to see another one). Oh oh, MacGyver just pulled up the radar and it looks like another full day of rain tomorrow…

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Saturday, January 23, 2016

Just like your worst nightmare..I’M BACK!

This blog will be mostly photos. MacGyver and I have been “off line” for almost 3 weeks in the wild everglades of Florida. I took a gazillion photos but couldn’t post any on a blog until now, sooooo..get ready for a photo albumn. These photos were taken in Big Cypress National Park, Midway Campground, Everglades National Park and Flamingo Campground, and Key Largo…Oh, and a place called Joanie’s Blue Crab Cafe..in the middle of nowhere on Tamiami Trail. I advise you to click on individual ones to get a better look.

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Most of those above photos were taken on “The Loop Road”, which is part of Big Cypress National Park. It is 24 miles of gravel road through some of the most beautiful Everglades photo ops I have ever seen..and it took us 2 hours to do it..You just have to stop  every few feet to take photos..

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Above 5 photos taken at Joanie’s Blue Crab Cafe..We met some friends from Illinois who were staying in Everglade City for drinks. That big guy in the hat just happen to be the photographer who does all of the photos for the cafe..Nice guy, and I totally forgot his name!

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Above are photos taken at Flamingo Campground in Everglades National Park..That huge nest belongs to Mr. and Mrs. Osprey..

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Being so close, we had to drive from Flamingo to Key Largo, and the above 6 photos are from there..And yes, we had an adult beverage while there..at Sharkey’s Pub and Grill on one of the inland waterways..

So, that is about enough pictures for one blog, but we had such a wonderful time, albeit unable to blog for a while. Right now we are at Felda, FL, East of Ft. Myers. We will be here for 2 weeks and today we plan to visit Imokalee, a town just 8 miles South of us..and they have a Casino/Hotel!!! Rest assured, I will post some photos of that too..Yep, I am officially back to bore you once again ..and hope to find some more “fodder” you place upon you !!