Saturday, March 25, 2017

#38 - Saturday, 25 March 2017 - Brighton RV Resort/Seminole Indian Reservation, near Okeechobee, Florida

I woke early to the sounds of birds and cattle. I went to bed last night to the sound of good ole boys with big trucks and air boats returning to their cabins and some noisy late RV arrivals. It was the worst night of sleep I have had since I finished recovering from jet lag earlier in March. I can't blame that all on the noise I guess. I just didn't feel that tired and ended up tossing and turning.

I am in a new RV Resort that is owned by the Seminole tribe. Located on the northwest side of Lake Okeechobee, Brighton RV Resort is much more than I had expected based on the moderate price. After setting up camp I had a swim in the nice pool and had it completely to myself. The resort has a gift shop with handmade Native American items, a large "trading post" that has an attached Subway sandwich shop, fuel pumps and beautiful paved sites with patios and full electrical, water and sewer hookups. With my Good Sam Club discount, the nightly price is just a bit more than it was in Everglades National Park. Sunday morning I am headed back to Kissimmee Prairie Preserve State Park for yet another visit. Yes, I love it there. It's a good location to spend five more nights before I start heading out of Florida. It is just over an hour north of here. The town of Okeechobee lies to the east of the path from here to the state park about half way between.

The cattle sounds are coming from across the road. I expect I didn't notice a road side pasture as I looked for the Brighton entrance sign along Reservation Road. The birds noises were largely coming from the river that runs alongside the park. Signs posted near the water warn of alligators and snakes in the area. Why else would I be here? 

As I drove north on a secondary highway (U.S. Hwy. 27), after taking the turnpike north from the Everglades and then Interstate 75,  a canal ran on the east side of the road and I saw launch ramps full of the redneck jet ski – the Florida air boat. It has to be remembered that the "river of grass" that is the everglades isn't limited to the expanse of Everglades National Park. Okeechobee is the largest freshwater lake in Florida and the seventh largest in the United States. It is second only to Lake Michigan in terms of lakes located entirely within the 48 contiguous states and the largest contained within one state. As huge as it is, the average depth is actually less than 9 feet and the maximum is 12 feet. The Kissimmee River is a broad floodplain that empties directly into Lake Okeechobee and is one of the four central Florida rivers that feeds the Everglades. Air boats are popular throughout southern Florida. I'm not sure I want to know what these yahoos are doing on them*. They don't seem like fishing boats, and the only ones I've been a passenger on were larger tour boats in the everglades.

The reason I am at an RV "resort" is that the ratings and price were right and I couldn't get back into the state park until Sunday. RV resorts are not usually on my radar. Many are expensive places that cost more than a nice chain hotel. They offer clubhouses with social activities and many amenities that are attractive to sunbirds and retired couples. Those that are more moderately priced can be a little scary. Most of those I saw on my drive here to Brighton are fairly typical of the cheaper RV parks. That is, many "campers" are actually residents so the parks are more like seedy mobile home parks. Very often you will see sedentary old travel trailers up on blocks that have had screen porches built around them. I saw one park where the space between units was less than six feet and the run down old recreational vehicles were falling apart and had shacks attached patchwork-style around rusting old campers. My goal is to visit 30 national parks in 2017 and as many state parks as possible so these will be secondary choices for places to camp. My primary choice once I am out west will be boondocking sites on public land that are completely free. Of course, these won't have the sweet little swimming pool I have here, nor even the electricity, water and sewer. That's when I will be completely off the grid and focused completely on solitude and nature.

Happy Weekend! M

* I'm adding this a couple hours after I made this post. I am even more intrigued by this air boat thing now. By using generalizing slurs like "yahoo" and "redneck" and "good ole boys" I expect some of you may picture the stereotype these terms conjure. You might expect some guy in his twenties with a Florida Gators ball cap on backward and a can of Bud light in his hand and questionable bumper stickers on his lifted off road truck. My campsite neighbors arrived after I did in a brand new Ford F350 dually and a brand new large fifth-wheel Grand Design travel trailer. They appear to be late 50s to early 60s and "clean cut", whatever that means. They set up camp and barbequed dinner just about any similar couple I've encountered. The difference is that I discovered this morning that they are with the younger guy whose air boat I photographed (see above). For some reason the guy felt the need to run the air boat for ten minutes right on the drive between our two campsites. Now that they've pulled away I am intrigued by what they are going to be doing on that boat all day. They had a cooler. Just drinking? The opposite neighbor pulled in late last night in a large and twenty years old or so bus style RV. Their noise outside my open bedroom window is one of the reasons I didn't fall asleep under the cool breeze and eventually had to shut my window. This morning I discovered that they were a forty something couple with a boy about seven or eight years old and a large mastiff puppy. It turns out that the small red air boat parked with a black truck in the adjacent grass is theirs and running that boat (maybe they just like engine sounds?) at 10 pm seemed like a good idea to them. They left earlier this morning in the truck and I am now wondering if they left the mastiff pup in the RV. I would have walked him for them ...

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