Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Secret Everglades And Holey Land

I like to study maps which makes me a nerd UNLESS I act on that studying, which makes me an explorer. Which explains how it was that I got to drive across the Everglades, not on Tamiami Trail, nor yet on Alligator Alley, but instead of all that asphalt end ease I took my car and my wife and my dog here:

On the Seminole Reservation at the western end the dirt road is called Huff Bridge and there is a street sign, but that's all. It doesn't have a sign saying "Highway 27- 25 miles" and twenty of them are dirt. Highway 27 goes south and intersects I-75, the Florida Turnpike and Krome Avenue. Highway 27 is a useful road to know, and this dirt road knows it.

What a great road, flat straight and reasonably smooth at speeds close to fifty miles per hour.
I learned years ago when riding in Africa, particularly in Niger, Nigeria and Cameroon, that keeping up a steady speed around fifty smooths out the "washboard" bumps that stretch across the roadway. It was slightly surreal buzzing smoothly along in the relative luxury of our two wheel drive, air conditioned Fusion sedan while outside the ninety degree wilderness sped by like a movie.
You can see this bridge in Google maps so I knew we were on the right path, as though there was a choice...
I'll tell you what, this road was a thin gray line on my phone GPS! Ain't technology great? In the days I'd have taken off after checking my map and doing my best. Nowadays you can take a quick check of your phone. Weird.
The Rotenburger wildlife area came up first. It was simply a sign by the side of the road, one at each end and that was that.
I think this Canal is labeled Dade County #5, but all I can imagine is that it was cut as part of the grand reclamation scheme designed to drain the Everglades. Nowadays the theory is the Everglades need to be restored, too little too late as usual. The state and the Feds have agreed to restore desperately needed wetlands but as for as usual.
Along this section at the top of the levee that contained the canal the bulrushes grew thick and quite tall.
There was no civilization apparent, as the miles rolled by, Cheyenne asleep in the back, WLRN on the radio playing Saturday afternoon NPR. Then a pump station appeared:

And we drove right through the installation.

We drove to the end of the canal into a paved turn out so I could take a picture...

And so at last we came to Holey Land, a space much beloved by off road riders in South Florida. The odd name comes from craters in the land. They are said to have been caused by military shelling during exercises, but I rather suspect the holes are geologic in this rather odd wet landscape. As we stent off toad riders we left.

This was just a reconnaissance and I had been up all night working and had spent the day at the Seminole a Reservation so I was ready to put feet up at the dog friendly La Quinta in Fort Lauderdale. Stopping was not on the program this day.

We met one solitary vehicle on our 25 mile exploration, a 45 minute journey. The pick up truck was ahead if us and pulled over yo let us by. I slowed massively to reduce the dust cloud and then took off again after we passed him, stationary at the side of the road going in our same direction. I guess we were in a hurry, oddly enough in such a lonely place.

About twenty miles in and five from Highway 27 we reached pavement. I love pavement and now that my street is torn up for sewer installation I miss clean smooth, dust-free asphalt. We turned off to check a recreation area. "I suppose we should now we're here," my reluctant wife mumbled.

Groups of people were hanging round, presumably urban dwellers learning the joys of nature (and how to kill it) in the more or less wild.

The open space was named for Harold A Campbell a water district employee killed in a vehicle accident on Highway 27 in 2006. A kind thought no doubt.

I don't know if they think of him but they seemed yo enjoy coming out here five miles from Highway 27.

These cheerful fishermen walked out into the cleansing ponds to try their luck.

Cheyenne wandered off for a cooling dip and I worried about alligators but I figured modern society being what it is if there were any chance of gators in the water the place would be plastered with warning signs. We did fine.

And plodded back to the patiently waiting wife in the car. She was not thrilled by this deviation from the drive to the hotel.
Civilization was represented by the appearance of Highway 27, a four lane road that cuts across the Everglades from Lake Okeechobee to Miami.
The turn off to take the dyke road to the Seminole Reservation isn't marked but it can be found at the southernmost edge of Palm Beach county. Driving north on 27 make a u-turn after you leave Broward County and pass the Palm Beach County sign and this will be the westbound entrance to the mysterious road, five miles paved, twenty not paved.

It was an easy straight drive to La Quinta.

Where Cheyenne had fun going on a hunt.

Her reward for her patience while we went exploring.



Trobairitz said...

There is just something about taking that road less travelled sometimes. Nice to be off the beaten path and see some new things.

Thanks for sharing the pics. It looks peaceful out there.

Bryce Lee said...

Different, very much so.
After Cheenne gets dripping wet, would assume you dry her fur somewhat before letting her back into the car. As I recall a wet dog is not the greatest smell in the world.
And then too would she not become chilled if the air is turned on?

Conchscooter said...

Cheyenne never gets chilled, and I wash her weekly with Head and Shoulders so when she gets wet she smells lovely. Really.

Ginney Camden said...

I loved all the clouds in this post!