The Long Way Around - Sat, Jan 23 to Sun, Feb 28, 2016

Where has the winter gone and where have we been ??

Well, we are just 100 miles from Disney World which we left 5 weeks ago.

Today, we pulled in to Sebastian Inlet State Park where we will be for 2 weeks.

However, instead of the 100 miles trip east from Disney World,
we traveled 675 miles through southern Florida to get here;o))

We left Disney for a short 2 night stop at Lake Louisa State Park.  

We like to stop here so we can pick citrus at Showcase Of Citrus close by.
Well, our lovely Disney weather turned cold & rainy
so no citrus picking this year ;o((

However, my SIL-Judy emailed to tell me she was going to visit with Gerry
a mutual friend at The Villages.  It turned out that she would be there when we were at Lake Louisa just about 1 hour south.  So we had the chance for a fun, but short reunion.  The 3 of us were best friends all through high school:o))
Nancy - Gerry - Judy

Our next stop was Myakka River State Park for two weeks.  
We love the biking, hiking and wildlife watching at this park.  

Well, we did a lot of biking, 
but there was very limited hiking and wildlife watching. 

As we will find during the rest of our winter travels, everything in south Florida is flooded.  So hiking trails are underwater and the wildlife is spread out away from the normal places we can find them. 

We did enjoy several nice days visiting with Sherry & David 
who were camped just around the corner from us. 

Together, we biked the Legacy and Venetian Trail.

The four of us also got to visit with Bruce & Laura and Mike & Terri
who are volunteering at W.P. Franklin Recreation Area.

We were able to find some Vultures...
 which apparently are trouble makers;o))
Just had to include this "too funny" photo ;o)

After Myakka River State Park, we moved further south to Midway Campground on the Tamiami Trail, Rt 41.  We were only there for 3 nights and our main focus was to bike the tram road at Shark Valley.  

Our first day at Midway was cold with 20mph winds so biking was out.  
Instead we visited all the visitor centers in the Big Cypress Preserve. 

Fortunately, our second day improved and we got to bike at Shark Valley.  
Just like everywhere else, Shark Valley was flooded 
so there was not much wildlife along the tram road. 

Even the tram road was flooded!!

All the flooding did move the few gators we saw a bit farther out on the road!!

 It is a very different winter this year.

Following Midway, 
we headed further south to Flamingo Campground in Everglades National Park.

At Flamingo, you are off the grid.
No phone or Internet unless you have AT&T and no television.
We really love it and enjoy disconnecting for 2 weeks.
This visit was a bit  different do to the flooding.
All the trails were underwater,
most of the wildlife was dispersed except for the Osprey
mosquitoes were in charge ;o((

Yes, it was a very different Flamingo visit this year.

Unfortunately, DEET became our friend,
but you do what you have to do.

For those who have visited here, you know that Eco Pond is a birders paradise.
This year the only birds you could find there were mosquitoes;o))
But the reflection of the clouds on Eco Pond was lovely.

We spent our days, walking and biking the park roads.
This is just an amazing place and there is always something wonderful to see!!

I braved the mosquitoes to get to see beautiful sunrises ;o))

The manatee made daily visits to the marina.

We were able to see the crocodiles at the marina every time we visited.
Flamingo is the only place you can see crocs and gators in the same waters!!

We saw the usual Great Blue Herons, Little Blue Herons, Great Egrets and Snowy Egrets but many birds like Blacked Necked Stilts, Wood Storks and Roseate Spoonbills were missing.
I got one peek at some Spoonbills as they flew over.

I did get to see a Great Blue Heron (White Version) which is not so common.

The Osprey were the most prevalent and active birds this year!!

The most unusual bird I saw was a juvenile Bald Eagle.

Our friends, David and Sharon who were camping in Homestead,  had planned to come down for a few days and pitch a tent on our site.  We were looking forward to sharing the wonders of Flamingo with them.  However, since the mosquitoes were such a nuisance, tent camping didn't seem very appropriate.  Instead, they did come to visit for a one day adventure.  The highlight of that was the Ranger led Nine Mile Pond Canoe Trip!!  We had such a great time... the weather was perfect and the mosquitoes don't bother you on moving water:o))

Through the Mangroves

Across the River of Grass
It was a magical day in the Everglades!!!

Even though the environment and wildlife at Flamingo and the Everglades were quite different this year, we know we will be coming back next year :o)))


After Flamingo, we started the trek back north along the east coast of Florida.

Our first stop was 4 nights at Jonathan Dickinson State Park.
We had hoped to kayak to Trapper Nelson's, but the winds were near 20mph during our entire stay so that didn't happen.  What we really needed to do was LAUNDRY!!  We did manage to get that caught up and the groceries restocked.

Jonathan Dickinson SP is a well kept FHU 50amp state park near Hobe Sound.  

We always joke that we are camping right across the sound from our good friends, Tiger Woods and Celine Dion ;o))  The State Park has lots of roads for biking and the river for kayaking, 
but for whatever reason, it is not one of our favorite. 

There are miles of state park roads to bike, a river to paddle and trails to hike.  But guess what, it is flooded and the hiking trails are underwater.
But the biking trails were clear... or were they???

We left Jonathan Dickinson on Sunday, Feb 28th and finally 675 miles later, 
we made it to Sebastian Inlet State Park!!

We got a great site #46 with our own Gumbo Limbo Tree;o))

We can't wait to spend the next couple weeks, 
fishing the inlet and catching the beautiful sunsets!!!

The Sebastian Inlet looking East

Sebastian Inlet looking West

Gorgeous Sunset

So that's where Bill and Nancy have been hanging out...

Just Going In Circles
Loving This Life :o)))