Miccosukee Resort (parking lot), Cubans, Big Cypress National Park and Naples Art Festival
The strange week in limbo in between the Art festival in Miami and the one in Naples, started off amazingly well at Wynwood Walls seeing this vast and expressive area of murals and public art in a run-down area the bloomed into bright colors and cafes and galleries and visitors walking everywhere. Traffic traffic traffic leaving downtown Miami just to wind up an hour later still in Miami, the outskirts, before it turns into the swamp, the fulltime swamp, the swamp that was everything before the condos and strip malls, this land is owned by the Miccosukee tribe, we parked in their casino parking lot. It was right on the fight path of Miami airport, right across the road from a gun range that was open from 7:30 am-8 pm every other day and 8 am-5 pm the "other" days. Truck noise all night, generators, airboats, (the boat that has a giant fan in the back and is meant to glide across the shallow swamp water) What a mess. The heat from Miami continued, sorry PA people, I know you want the heat but you might not want parking lot, dusty, buggy, exhaust filled heat.
The casino is nice inside to take a break from the heat but you must weigh that against the smoked filled air. Yes, it was nice to have a flush toilet 24hrs a day, but every time I was in the bathroom the cleaning person ran a mop over my feet! Why??? Was that mop destined for my feet? Did my feet exist for the mop?
This area seems to be 99% Cuban, actually, we couldn't have done errands, get groceries, order food, go to the bank without speaking Spanish. I was very surprised, we were in another country. The food was delicious, we had our best meals from cafeterias and grocery store counters, I try to eat everything I hadn't tried before, although I had to learn a few new words for the foods that I wanted to order.
We took our mutts to Doral's fancy-ass dog park! Manicured, vending machine for dog toys, wifi, dog wash! Rich folks get all the amenities.
Ok, day two at the parking lot, still too hot and our A/C won't run without electricity, the solar isn't enough. We moved on to Big Cypress National Park, we camped at Midway and finally got a shower thanks to this wonderful Scamp couple we met at the casino parking lot. We now have a solar shower, a bag that heats up in the sun and has a tube running off of it to use as a shower. We used our art fair tent booth sides and the Scamp's awning and placed the warm back of water on the roof. It was incredible! I hadn't showered since the second night staying at the harbor in Miami when I snuck over to the docks and lathered myself up and hosed myself down. The campsite has water and toilets but no showers. It also has warning signs placed every 5 feet surrounding the pond to warn you that there are alligators and yes... you should not walk your dogs next to the pond.
"Big Cypress National Preserve is a diverse landscape, where one can see cypress and mangroves, alligators, and panther tracks all in one day! Just like the diversity of the land, the National Park Service manages for a diversity of activities within the national preserve that national parks typically do not allow.
In the 1960s, plans for the world’s largest Jetport, to be constructed in the heart of the Greater Everglades of south Florida, were unveiled. This project, and the anticipated development that would follow, spurred the incentive to protect the wilds of the vast Big Cypress Swamp. To prevent the development of the Jetport, local conservationists, sportsmen, environmentalists, Seminoles, Miccosukees, and many others set political and personal differences aside. The efforts of countless individuals and government officials prevailed when, on October 11, 1974, Big Cypress National Preserve was established as the nation’s first national preserve. The concept of a national preserve was born from an exercise in compromise. Everyone saw the importance of protecting the swamp, but many did not want this region merely added to nearby Everglades National Park that was created in the 1940s. Many felt that national parks were managed in a restrictive manner and access to the swamp would be lost. The resulting compromise created a new land management concept – a national preserve. An area that would be protected, but would also allow for specific activities that were described by Congress within the legislation that created the preserve."
We passed the World's Smallest Post Office! We can add this to the list of all the post offices that we have visited so far. Ochopee, Florida
"This closet-sized, 7x8-foot building used to be an irrigation pipe shed for a tomato farm. It was pressed into service after a fire destroyed the Ochopee general store -- which also housed the post office -- in 1953. The town, which sits on the edge of the Everglades, and which reportedly has a population of 11, has been happy with it ever since."
Onto our next parking lot, Naples Government Center. We parked there during the Naples Art Festival. We were lucky, the weather cooled down, we set-up the booth bought groceries, made dinner and celebrated our 23rd anniversary! Then we went to the thrift store, bought some outfits for the weekend, some CDs for when we don't get radio or phone reception and then went to do laundry! Very romantic, it actually was lots of fun. Naples was a beautiful show and the town is very wealthy, everything looked like a park. The dogs went to another fancy dog park and has some fun after being stuck in the camper all weekend. Super lucky to meet up with our good friend Martha from Lancaster, as she was visiting Naples as well. It made us miss home even more. A real action-packed week.
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