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What Day Is It?
Written By: OC Fotoguy
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 What Day Is It?
 What Day Is It?
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Ah!!!, so le’id back.  Wow, this is what six weeks in the Florida Keys can do to your head.  Who cares that the weather didn’t cooperate, there was no snow and I hear that Maryland and Ocean City got dumped on several times.  No thanks, I’ll take a rainy windy day to that craziness any day!  I don’t think my hands fit a snow shovel anymore and I don’t want to find out.
After some kayaking in Islamorada, visiting with Gary, the HatMan, from Seacrets, a sunset and a magic show, the Keys, like all things, came to an end; so I had the best breakfast on the planet a Spanish omelet at Harriet’s, where the namesake waits tables.  The omelet was scrumptious; as usual all I could do is eat half of it, and, of course, I bought a key lime muffin and a piece of apple cake to go, Wow!  The rest of the omelet will make two more breakfasts.  I’ll buy gas and supply up at megamart then head for the NPS Big Pine Camp Ground on the road to Flamingo.  There’re over a hundred sites there and they don’t take reservations, so I can take my time.
I arrive.  What?  There’s no sites!  I call the Park Services 800 # and ask about other nearby camp grounds.  No open sites at any of them!  I head to the Park Service office that issues permits that allows me to go 26 miles deep into America’s Jungle of Big Cypress.  I stop on the way to get some tomatoes at a Upick vegetable stand, plus they have Key Lime Pies.  The tomatoes look really rough and there’re very few of them.  All the rain has ruined their crop.  They shouldn’t even be letting people take the time to look and be disappointed, and they’re out of pies.  I leave with a bunch of little, scarred up, orange tomatoes.  I guess I can cook with them.
I arrive at the permit office and I’m 20 minutes late!  Woops, now what?  I think of the bridge at EverGlades City.  I’ve parked overnight there before; I can come back in the morning and get a permit, and it’s less than an hour away going west on Rt. US 41.  I can eat at the Oyster House.  They have lots of good fresh local seafood on their menu.  As I drive, I realize it’s Friday!  In the Keys there’s little reason to keep track of what day it is and I didn’t.  This is the real world; what day it is matters here!  No wonder the camp grounds were full and on top of that the permit office won’t be open tomorrow.   Oh well, I’ll figure out what I’m doing or going next tomorrow.  
The next morning brings rain and the sky looks like it’ll last all day.  That limits my options.  Since it was cloudy most days in Key West, my solar panels didn’t charge my deep cell marine batteries, that powers my computer, radio, and charges other things.  My stove and refrigerator run on propane gas.  I think of a private camp ground just a couple miles away and this is Super Bowl weekend.  I drive to the campground; they have a spot with electric hookup for $29 a night.  I can do that and charge up the batteries on their electric, so I do.  I also can take advantage of their showers.  My nest is adequate, but here there’s one I can stand under the hot water for an hour or more, if I choose!  Then it starts raining at about noon and continues til way after dark.  Good time to get caught up on editing my photos, write an email, use their wifi and write an article.  The next morning the wind is howling, but the sky is blue, so I head for Marco Island and the Sand Bar sports bar, where I’ve parked overnight before, too.  For me the Super Bowl was watching experience out do inexperienced brashness, so after the half time show I went back to my nest (slide-in camper on a pickup truck).
The next day was a glorious sun shiny day, so a long walk on the beach was in order.  I’ve never seen so many conch shells on the beach.  I guess the stormy weather of the last two days had caused them to be deposited on the beach.  I quickly gathered up a couple dozen before someone could tell me I couldn’t do it.  When lightly steamed they’re delicious. 
I began to think about what I’d do the next couple days.  The EverGlades Seafood Festival (music fest for me) begins Friday, so there wasn’t much reason to get a permit and go deep in the everglades for only several days.  I want to do that for weeks.  I’d been told there was a free state campground called Dinner Island just east of Immokalee about 30 miles north and there used to be a lot of vegetable stands there.  If that didn’t work the town of La Belle has a megamart, where I can park overnight, several texmex restaurants, and Lake Okeechobee is only a few miles away. 
I found Dinner Island.  It was muddy and wet, there were no designated camp sites, no posted rules, and apparently it was free.  There were several other campers, but few visible people.  I pulled off the dirt road onto a grassy spot that appeared dry near ancient oak trees draped with Spanish moss.  This would be “home” for the next several days, unless something changed my mind.   The cypress and pine hammock where the campers were was surrounded by cattle country.  The first day I walked the dirt road east that went through fields of cattle, without seeing much of interest till evening when I returned to my nest.  I could see a nice sunset setting up and there were limpkins within camera range.  I watched one of the big water birds snatch a bottom critter from the wet land where it was.  Birds have no hands to help them get something out of its shell or position it so it can be swallowed, but they patiently and meticulously accomplish this task.  After it swallowed its catch, it took off, and gave me an inflight photo.  I always seek inflight photos.  They are a challenge and I’m getting pretty good!  Then I got and inflight wood stork.  As I lost the necessary light my attention turned to finding a place for a photo of the setting sun reflecting in the wet land and I did.
The next day I drove the seventeen-mile loop of dirt roads through more cattle and wet lands.  There didn’t seem to be anything to keep me from parking my nest and spending the night in many delightful spots near wetlands.
The next day, Friday, I decided to check out Immokalee.  I found two restaurants: a diner, the Kountry Kitchen, and a texmex restaurant across the street; and stumbled onto the wholesale fruit and vegetable market with about 50 vendors. Most had a retail area, as I waited for the diner to serve their lunch menu.  I perused the menu and chose the pork ribs.  The waitress said I could choose three vegetables.  A short time later I was served a mountain of food, that proved delicious.  Of course I couldn’t eat it all.  Then I drove to the casino to check it out and found all I needed to do to park there overnight, which included hookups to charge up my batteries, was to register!  Then I went to the Mexican super market and found they had many prepared carry out food items!  Good camping, good restaurant, a farm fresh fruit and vegetable market, a place I can charge my batteries, and carryout texmex food, too.  I’ll be back!
Bob R  o.c.FotoGuy
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