Friday, June 29, 2012

Escape From Fort Lauderdale

At last! I'm heading out from the concrete jungle of Fort Lauderdale.
I've just spent 3.5 days at the Common Core Standards seminar and I could rant here, but it's not a nature subject and ... its really a long rant that deserves a post of its own.

Let's just say, for now, that it was 3.5 days of death by PowerPoint ... a suiSlide if you will.

(Miz S, I promise I will rant in an editorial "off topic" post soon)

Where was I ...?

Oh yes, my escape ...

We don't have "traffic" up here in Levy county, so I was a little out of practice and apparently way too polite for South Florida drivers.

Up here, when we wave at each other, which we do alot, we use all 5 fingers, not just one particular finger ...

... and horns?  I use mine almost exclusively for shooing deer off the road.

South Florida drivers seem to love their horns.

As you can imagine, I was thrilled to get far enough west of I-95 to be out of the urban madness.

My goal was to head out on Alligator Alley to its junction with US-27 north.

Somewhere near Lake Okeechobee, I would connect with US-441 and cruise up the East side of Lake O.

My main destination: Kissimmee Prairie Preserve State Park

A large portion of this ride takes you through former Everglades habitat that is now growing sugar cane.

This is the Domino sugar processing plant.

(I could rant here also about the STUPID cold war era, 50+ year old ban on trade with Cuba which caused this loss of habitat AND your high sugar prices among other things. Today, it only hurts the Cuban people and stymies what could be amazing travel and tourist opportunities for Florida and the Cubans.)

Okay, mini-rant there.

Moving on.

Along with seas of sugar cane waving in the breeze, I passed sod farms, palm plantations, and some fields of veggies.

Sod farms fascinate me ... doesn't it seem like you are sending your precious topsoil out with every harvest?

Canals like the one above are everywhere in south Florida. In most cases they provided the fill for the road you might be traveling on at that moment.

I have a soft spot for scenes like this.

Florida was full of small Mom and Pop touristy places before the Interstates and Mouse.

This one seemed like a classic to me so I made a U-turn to go back and get the shot.

I passed through little farm towns like Belle Glade and Pahokee, tiny islands of civilization in the great sugar cane sea.
Some parts were shiny new, other areas were obviously stressed.

This fine row of palms were "just there" in an area that did not match their stately elegance.

I had skipped breakfast back at Ft. Lauderhell, so I pulled into a Wendy's in Belle Glade ... or was it Pahokee?
Whatever ...

I ordered the spicy chicken sandwich to go.
Men's health actually rated this as the best sandwich at Wendy's, which thrilled me since that was my favorite thing on the Wendy's menu.

I didn't get into the Wendy's bag until I was a few miles down the road.


Now ... I love mustard and pickles on a burger.

I don't allow myself cheeseburgers, or even burgers very often, but I took this as a sign.

I hope the mailman who was in front of me in the Wendy's line enjoyed my spicy chicken sandwich, because I sure enjoyed his grease burger.

You don't actually see Lake Okeechobee much when you cruise the East shore on US-441, since the lake is ringed with a giant dike.

There are some overlooks of course, and in another post we can look at this inland sea.

US-441 flows through farms, ranches, and small  towns as it carries you north.
In places, you could see the rich black muck soil that makes Everglades region farms so productive.

The farther north I went, the more ranches appeared.

Around 1500 hours, I was far enough north of the lake to take my turn off of US-441 and onto an 18 mile long county road that would carry me to the Kissimmee Prairie Preserve ... 50,000+ acres of dry Florida prairie.

It proved to be a crittery, birdy place ... and I will share that on the next post.

For now, I'm glad to be home with Bear's giant head resting on my foot as I type.


Dani said...

Can't wait to see the pics!

Caroline said...

We've been dealing with CC standards all year in staff training, I'll just bet you had fun!! Looking forward to seeing habitat not found in SD.

jojo said...

lol. i was in ft. lauder hell too on tuesday... shame. sad. hadn't been back to the particular area in 3 years and it looked like hell.... more importantly! you could've come to visit! lol....

LibraryGirl62 said...

My Friends Jen and Michelle from Avalon Elementary in Naples were there too! Our school went to Orlando for their training.

Sandcastle Momma said...

I love the pictures - thanks for taking us with you!!
And ya know after about the third sentence I felt like I was reading things Skink would say. Maybe it was the interstates and mouse comment lol

threecollie said...

Only visited your fair state one time, for a couple of weeks when I was about the age Alan is now. Camped in the back of the pick up truck and just drove and looked. And hit the beaches. And the 'glades. Wasn't like we had any money. I remember all the mom and pop places; we bought ugly oranges from one...can't remember the actual name but they were phenomenal. Sorry to see that so much is gone. PF always reminds me of that trip. Down the east coast to the Keys, some time at Grassy and Marathon and some touring in Key West (loved the anoles), then up the west coast.

robin andrea said...

Always nice to take a ride with you, FC. Glad you are home now. Really looking forward to some of your future rants. You already had me laughing with this one!

Floridacracker said...

Thanks for riding along y'all.
Hope I wasn't too hard on the South Floridians. To be fair, I only experienced rudeness on the roads.
Going to see Moonrise Kingdom today, but I will have a Kissimmee Prairie post tomorrow ... either gators or cara caras.
Decisions, decisions ...

Smilin-buddha said...

I would have bought you lunch

Miz S said...

I'm awfully late to the party, I know. 2 things: 1.I'm looking forward to the rant. 2. Did you like Moonrise Kingdom? I did.

Floridacracker said...


Ricky Luts said...

It would be nice to cruise and escape Florida with your nice boat with you and your family for a vacation. Home Owners Insurance Ft Lauderdale also provides insurance services for your boat.

Robin Williams said...

Every rose comes with thorns so as this beautiful place comes with impatient drivers. I enjoyed your snaps and waiting for more. And also detailed information provided by you is really good for those who are planning to visit this personal injury attorney