March 11, 2017

As I mentioned once before, I was scheduled to go down to the parks near Ft. Myers and below but the campsites were all booked up. One night I was messaging with my friend George, who lives in that area & he suggested that I stay at his place for a weekend and hit the parks. He was even game to go with me one of the days on my State Parking adventures!

We woke fairly early in the morning and headed down to the first park which was in the Everglades. Fakahatchee Strand Preserve is mainly designed to drive through but there are areas for hiking as well. The ranger told us about this cool spot where we could see an abandoned cabin and some gators hanging around it so off we went, in search of this cabin. On our way to the hiking trail we got to see a huge gator just chillin’ in a pathway and a hawk just hanging out at a small pond. We also spotted a smaller gator and tons of birds in another little pond on the side of the road.

We arrived to the entrance of the hiking trail that would lead us to the cabin but were stopped just about 7 steps in. We were COVERED in mosquitoes! George and I looked at each other, spoke briefly about the attack we were under and headed for the car! That site was not worth the torture of getting there! Instead of following the road we turned back the way we came. On the way to the next park we stumbled upon the second entrance to the park. There was a really nice boardwalk there, a few gators and a coral snake. I held Casey tight because we were told there was a pretty big gator on the boardwalk but we never ran into it.

Collier-Seminole was a very nice looking park but it was one to be enjoyed via the water and we were just not prepared to kayak or canoe. I am way too nervous to bring Casey on the water. We did get to admire the dredge that was pivotal in the construction of the Tamami Trail.

Bringing Casey State Parking has not always been the best decision. Delnor-Wiggins Pass has a very beautiful beach but we could not go on it because pets are not allowed. We walked to the end of the walkway, looked around and headed back to the car. Upon exiting the park, we spotted an observation tower so we circled back, twice and got or original parking spot. We climbed the tower and when we got to the top all we could see were beautiful mangroves. I wondered how long the tower had been there and just how tall it use to be in comparison to the tree height now. We tried to spot the ocean but the trees were just too high. It was like nothing else was around; so beautiful and peaceful up there!

The last stop of the day was Lover’s Key. This park use to only be boat access only. Luckily for us they changed that so we got to drive up and experience it. George, Casey and I wandered through the park, following trails through mangroves and to the beach. We took turns staying with the dog while the other followed the boardwalk to the sand. The sunset on our day as we walked to the car. A perfect way to end a very diverse day of State Parking! I think George enjoyed sharing a piece of this adventure with me. Who knows, maybe he’ll be up for one more before it’s all said and done!