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2011/01/19 - Flamingo Campground, Everglades National Park, Flamingo, FL

Posted 02-03-2011 at 11:34 AM by Phantom

Day 66, Camp 16 (4 nights @ $15 a night + 5 nights @ $8 a night)
Flamingo Campground
Everglades National Park
Flamingo, FL
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Drove 32 miles further down into the 'Glades'... to the tip of the Florida peninsula at Flamingo. One of my favorite 'end-of-the-road' places... replete with visitor center, campground, marina, marina store, gas, etc. Surrounded by miles and miles and hundreds of acres of swamp, coastal prairie, mangroves, mahogany 'hammocks', alligators, mosquitoes and innumerable birds or every description. The Flamingo campground had just opened 41 sites with electric! We lucked into an open electric site adn were told we could have it for up to 2 weeks... we elected to pay for 4 days... option to re-new. More later. Visited the marina and saw the ancient Crocodile 'Ms. Gumby'... saw her 2 years ago... has NO teeth left in her mouth! Somehow she still eats! Good to see you again old girl! The marina store had ice for sale at $4.62 a bag. I mean COME ON! I refused to buy anything form them our entire stay. Saw calm Osprey everywhere... also Red-shouldered Hawks.... up close and personal! They had a little restaurant just up and running from out of a trailer. Not a bad menu for out of a trailer, but I hated the pizza. I believe the hurricane that wiped out the lodge and restaurant was Wilma in 2005. They were also affected by Katrina. Pretty slow to re-build. Shameful that the government can't find funds for this. The visitor center is still partially torn-up and a couple trails are still closed.
We hiked Snake Bight Trail.. saw Roseate Spoonbills feeding out in the waters of Florida Bay... a juvenile Bald Eagle fly by... a Nurse Shark swam by... too cool. Canoed Nine-mile Pond another morning, 5.5 miles. Another day we canoed part-way out the Hell's Bay Canoe Trail and back... about 7 miles. Did a bird walk and saw a Scissor-tailed Flycatcher!... and some Northern Shovelers and Blue-winged Teals!
After 4 days we went to non-electric sites for the next 5 days. Their reservation system was in a total cluster.... uproar from the new electric sites. No specific sites were guaranteed by reservation! They were in total chaos... (their words). It was a total mess. They did have 4 bathrooms now 'solarized' so there were hot showers! 2 of the solar bathrooms were in the tent-only area, none in the electric loop, go figure. I enjoyed it down in Flamingo. The history is fascinating. Read Marjory Stoneman Douglas' book 'River of Grass'. Amazing history. I was sad to leave Flamingo as this seemed to mark our 'turning point'.... the halfway point of our winters' trip.... half our time and the furthest from point home. From now on we are 'heading home'... but so much more left to see and do!
The Everglades are a VERY special place. There is no other Everglades in the world. This was the first (only?) National Park set aside because of its bio-diversity, not because of its scenic beauty. Along with the adjoining Big Cypress Preserve, it is the largest wilderness area east of the Mississippi River. At 1.5 MILLION acres, the Glades are now only 1/7 (14%) of what they were originally. Although feeble attempts are being made to improve and restore the natural water flow, the competition from industry, agriculture, urban sprawl is severe. The Everglades need more water.
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