Mesa to Pitt 2015

Mesa to Pitt 2015
Mesa to OBX

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Homestead to Big Cypress National Preserve

Jan.13- I got an early start to ride Fla.997 on a Sunday morning, while traffic was quiet. This road is a route that goes straight north through agricultural country. It is not nearly as busy as US 1, but there are only a few roads out of this area, and I figured it was gonna get busy later on. There were no shoulders on this 21 mile stretch, and the fields of crops and commercial nurseries, full of flowering trees and shrubs, were beautiful. I was glad I was able to look around, rather than just focus on traffic.
When I got to US 41, which is one of only two roads across the northern Everglades to the Gulf coast, I ran into construction. Fortunately, being a Sunday, there were no trucks, but traffic was still constantly flowing. Four or five construction sights were working, so flag men were present, which means I was flowing with the speed of traffic through the work areas, which were one lane with jersey barriers. This is the kind of thing that Pam LOVES to drive the motor home thru also. Not really! I was doing sprint workouts, getting up to 25 mph, and holding it for half mile to one mile stretches, to stay in the flow of traffic, then resting and cruising in the areas that weren't being worked on. I passed the Miccosukee Indian Reservation as well as their casino. They also have a big presence giving airboat rides through the grassland swamps. My ride included seeing 107 alligators in the canal along the road, except for number 89, who was near the road where I was riding.  I was so busy looking in the canal that I came within 3 feet of hitting him in the snout! Some minor evasive action, and no one was injured.  Big Cypress seems to have more gators and birds than the Everglades, especially this time of year, when all the animals are condensing to the areas that have water. This is the dry season, and wildlife is more dispersed at wetter times of the year.

Swamp buggy

I did see a Florida Panther!

     Original plans were for me to ride about 104 miles to the Gulf coast, to Marco Island.  As I was traveling, I thought maybe Pam would stop early so we could do some of the things that were available through this stretch that I knew she wanted to do.  It wasn't long till I got a text saying that she had stopped in the Big Cypress Preserve, about half way across the Everglades, at the Midway Campground.  I ended up going about 57 miles, and it turned out to be a great decision to stop.  We headed back to the Reservation in the jeep, and took an airboat ride, including a 10 minute stop at an area out in the swamp that had a boardwalk and some Indian women making and selling traditional Indian stuff. We also got up close with some alligators, including one with injuries and scars around his eye caused by a fight with another gator.
The airboat is as loud as sitting next to a jet engine, and they gave us cotton to put in our ears.  The driver was good, and he did some airboat tricks, including serpentine curves and a few 360's just for fun. The trip was definitely one of the most fun things we've done.

At the old Indian village

Gator under the boardwalk

Airboat in the background

Look inside the gator's mouth!!

     On the way home we took a ride on a back road, called the Loop Road, and checked out some of the Indian homes, some more wildlife, especially at the bridges,  and a couple of areas that the park has set up for free back country camping.  We could actually get the motorhome to these sights and camp for free, with no hookups of course, but that's an adventure for our next trip to Big Cypress.

This was a sign on a National Park Campground bulletin board!

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