Tuesday December 29, 2015 Most Recent Posts:
Midway Campground Big Cypress National Preserve
Big Cypress National Preserve Last Days With Carrie
Our original plan for this most recent move was to spend a week boondocking at Long Pine Key Campground, the upper campground in Everglades National Park. That would put us in good position to visit Biscayne National Park. I had hoped to visit Dry Tortugas National Park while we were in the Keys and then Biscayne as we left.
Since the former didn’t happen I was determined to do the latter. At the time the plans were made nearly a year ago, we had no idea what sort of treatment David would be on.
It was difficult to arrnage his treatment in the Keys and when I looked into the closest clinic to Long Pine Key it turns out it was over 100 miles away. That’s just too far. So we changed our plans and came to Midway which was closer to the clinic and a bit further from Biscayne.
Today’s the day to make the trip to Biscayne. The Visitor Center opens at 9am and we are there about 15 minutes after that. The National Park takes up 2/3rds of Biscayne Bay which is less than 10 feet deep in most places and covers some 160 square miles. It is bordered by Miami and Key Biscayne to the North, Card Sound and Key Largo to the south. As you can see, the park is pretty much all water. Like 98%.
We are surprised at how easy it is to get to the park. Coming from the west and north, we do not have to go through any of Miami. The park sign is an interesting work of art in brick which seems a bit unusual to us as a medium for this part of the country.
We get a choice shady parking spot and head over to the visitor center which is wisely on stilts and has a ramp up. The metal art work on the stone and coral walls is also lovely and appropriate to this mostly under water park.
At the top of the ramp there are views of the bay on three sides. It’s a bright clear, hot and windy day here. What’s new??
Inside the visitor center has an excellent movie on the 4 ecosystems that make up Biscayne National park. They also have wonderful exhibit dioramas on the underwater creatures one would see snorkeling which of course it is too windy to do today. We’ve brought our gear but again we are out of luck.
When we finish looking at all the wonderful exhibits inside, the volunteer at the desk says a ranger talk is happening outside in less than 5 mintues. Now that’s luck.
After an introduction to the park, she takes us for a short hike. First stop is the boat basin from which the tour boats leave when it isn’t so windy. At the moment they are between consessionaires so the wind isn’t the real problem. Just as the ranger explains that they sometimes see manatee here, we do.
She comes up for air and does a little roll over for us. All the cameras are clicking.
We walk out along the edge of the bay where we see a surprising number of fish. There is no fishing right here so they have obviously figured it out.
As we near the end of the walk, the ranger sees a snail in the water that she says may be worth taking off her boots to wade in and get. Since, as always, I have on my oofos, I volunteer to do it instead. Turns out the shell is empty so after she talks about the creature that did live in there, I put it back for a hermit crab to find.
The ranger kindly takes questions after the hike and then goes up to the porch of the visitor’s center to swear in 4 new Junior Rangers. It’s great fun that she has ranger hats for all of them to wear.
After watching the commission of new Junior Rangers, we head out to the only trail that isn’t a paddling trail in the park. It leads over a short boardwalk to a spit of land apparently fine for swimming from but mostly used by fishermen and women.
Although the park isn’t nearly as busy as Shark Valley was on this week between Christmas and New Years, the busiest spot is this trail where continually fishermen are rolling in and out with their coolers.
Walking back across the boardwalk to the Visitor Center we see a school of needlefish. Dozens of them.
Biscayne would be a great park to return to on a calm day when one could kayak and snorkel. If you visit and don’t have your own boat and want to go out to the keys north of Key Largo that are in the park, make sure to call and see if they now have a concessionaire offering transportation.
On the way back to Winnona we cut over to visit Robert is Here. We learn this is another thing we should avoid the week between Christmas and New Years. Here again, like Shark Valley, the cars are parked all along both sides of the road.
Robert has a great story and if you don’t know his story it’s very interesting and you can read it here. Today there is a live one man band (on the right of the picture) and piles of people in a long line for milk shakes and so thick in the building that you really can hardly push a cart around.
Robert has all sorts of Florida fruits and tropical fruits at what we see are much higher prices than last time we were here or than at other markets we have visited.
I wait until the line gets smaller to order my milkshake. I choose one of the holiday shakes
I try the mamey, strawberry, coconut which is excellent!. I’ve never heard of half these fruits.
Robert himself is working the register. We leave with a few brandywine tomatoes and an $11 1/4 bushel of Red Navel oranges which turn out to be very disappointingly tasteless.
We both agree that the milkshake is the best part of this stop.
Looks like we may not be in the minority with that opinion.
We have wisely parked on “the other road” right at the corner so it’s a short walk back to Ruby.
Other folks have parked a long way down the road on both sides. I’ve posted about Robert Is Here before on our trips to the Everglades and this is the first time I’ll have to say that I would not recommend it. It appears that quality is down and prices are up.
Back at Midway, I take a walk around the pond before sunset. There are a couple of signs about staying away from the alligators who live there. I think it’s appropos that the reptile in question is in the pond, near the shore, just by the sign.
I take a picture of the sun as it goes down behind the trees and he’s in that picture too.
The skies turn more beautiful and the golds reflect in the pond waters.
Everything turns pink just before the darkness settles in.
I hadn’t remembered such lovely sunsets from our previous visits here but am very glad to be weaned away slowly from the beautiful sunrises and sunsets in the Keys.