Monday, January 2, 2012

white knuckle.....

After a quick visit to the playground at Gilchrist Park in Punta Gorda we headed south full of optimism for our travel day to the Fort Myers area and on to Everglade City.

All started out well along the 41. Just north of Ft. Myers we suddenly saw this HUGE Shell Factory sign. Instantly I recognized it! 

Could this be THE shell factory we visited when I was a toddler? Location is right - I have yet to confirm with my sister...hopefully she can recall.

Anyway - since it was early we turned in. The trouble was that there was also a flea market going on and suddenly the road narrowed and parking looked tight. We continued on and found a space in the Shell Factory parking lot. Because the factory didn't open until 10 and it was 9 we went to look around the market - reminding us of Quartzsite.

That was fun - we bought some more Plant City strawberries, some Italian bread and some kettle corn from a nice couple from NE USA now living in Punta Gorda.

Once done we went to the HUGE shell factory full of yes - shells - but everything else you could think of as well.

I doubt the Subway sign was there in the 70's.

The Shell Factory had many many things for Cassia to ride.

It also had a pirate room with a talking pirate even - NOT Cassia's favourite place - actually she cried - can't say I blame her.

On a safari - this room was FULL of stuffed African animals.

After a very challenging time getting back out of the now full parking lot we were back on route 41 south. Destination - Ft. Myers Beach - where we camped when I was a kid. I was full of excitement - I am FINALLY returning to a place of fun times.


Now first I must explain that there are two routes south - route 41 through Ft. Myers to Naples OR Interstate 75. As I have mentioned the interstate is usually our last choice. I did ask Derek which route he wanted to take.

Now famous last words "we'll do the 41 - we'll see more that way". 

Well we saw more all right - more and more and more restaurants and stores and malls!

By the time we got to the Ft. Myers Beach turnoff we were already completely done with the traffic.

And so - I had to let go of seeing Ft Myers Beach. It's ok - I will leave a memory a memory.

After a lot of stop and start we FINALLY got south of Naples and turned east with the 41. Thankfully the 41 east is surrounded by well - nothing - not nothing exactly - lots of grass and trees. It should be the scenic route east with the Alligator Alley toll round just north being the quicker route. But obviously some people take the 41 so they don't have to pay the toll but still want to drive fast.

We reached the Everglades City turnoff and took it - I choose this destination thinking it MAY be a quaint fishing villages.


I will probably never live that choice down. It was a dirty little place with nothing to look at. Thank goodness it was only 4 miles in. We stopped for lunch beside the park so Cassia could play on the playground but that didn't last long since it was so dirty. We couldn't get out of Everglade City fast enough but had to first stomach $20 of gas at $3.65 since we had timed our gas filling wrong. Sad since it was $3.07 when we left Punta Gorda.

This day was getting to be a bit much and it was only one o'clock.

We had done our research before leaving Punta Gorda and had decided to spend the night at the Midway Campground in the Big Cypress National Preserve. Just before that we stopped at the very busy Visitor's Center. Cassia and I went in to look around. I mentioned to the info people that we were headed to Midway. 

"I don't think it is full - they usually let us know - but it is a busy week".

Uh oh - we did NOT need this.

Cassia and I pretty much jogged back to the truck - let's go - let's go!

Totally false alarm - we got the campground and it was less then half full! And what a great park it is - and it has electricity if you can imagine! What luxury - a dump, water, restrooms, nicely paved sites and grass and electricity for $19. And the camp hosts were very nice - we highly recommend this as an overnight stop.

Our site - #1 at the Midway campground.

The view to the pond with one alligator swimming about.

By dinner time it was pretty full.

While Derek was working at the dump Cassia and I strolled over to get a closer look at the alligator in the pond. There was a family having a picnic and so we approached the group to look at the gator. 

Well! what a great group! We ended up spending the next few hours visiting with them. We met Yanisia from Miami who was with German from Argentina and his family. We were able to ask them all sorts of questions about Miami and their lives there. When we first met them Yanisia and German were flying a kite and were nice enough to let Cassia hold the string. Later they actually gave Cassia the kite! What a nice and generous gift!

Our new friends! They LOVED Roofous!

Derek and Cassia later trying to fly the kite but not enough wind.

So a white knuckle day that suddenly got better at about two o'clock in the afternoon. We had a nice evening watching the 1972 version of Charlotte's Web with our electricity.

Tomorrow was finally our trip the Florida Keys!

Thanks for visiting!


Today's Interesting Link: Here's a link to the Punta Gorda Farmer's Market - this is the place that Jim and his wife who we bought the kettle corn from hang their hat's. 

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