Saturday, May 10, 2014

Life On The Road In South Florida

It has been a couple weeks since I posted anything to the BooniePeople’s travel blog, but don’t think nothing has been happening. Our days remain interesting as there has been plenty to do around south Florida. We have had some interesting sightseeing experiences.

Movies aren’t sightseeing but we did take in a couple movies in the last two weeks. With the National Football League holding their draft days during the last couple days it was only a coincidence that we saw the Kevin Costner-Jennifer Garner movie, “Draft Day”. In this movie Costner plays the General Manager of the Cleveland Browns football team. Garner his love interest. The plot to the movie was Costner’s decision to draft, or not draft, the number one quarterback pick available in the first round. This movie is a guy’s and gals flick for football enthusiasts.

Oh yes, when the real football draft was held this past week it was only interesting that the real Cleveland Browns drafted the number one quarterback available in the draft in the first round, Johnny Manzel, a.k.a. “Johnny Football”. He is exciting and the best in 2013-2014.

The other movie we saw was a “chick flick” entitled “The Other Woman”. Crazy humor but Janet and I were laughing so hard, I had tears in my eyes. Women should see this movie together with girlfriends!

The RV Park where we were staying in Wauchula, Florida was another Escapee RV Club Co-Op park. This is the sixth Escapee Park we have parked since we started out in February 2014. Just beautiful, as it was the most manicured of any park we have stayed. Well run, and the locals that live there full time were just lovely. S-K-P’s are like that. Happy in their retirement.

Or next door neighbors, John and Noreta from Indiana, pounded on our door the evening of Sunday, April 27th to remind us to meet them outside at approximately 8:40 P.M. as the International Space Station was going to pass overhead around then.  Sure enough, with weather being very clear, we were able to pick up the bright flight of the Space Station as it moved overhead for approximately two minutes. Not something you see every day!

Every one of the places we have stayed has its own local favorite restaurant for breakfast. When we lived in Las Vegas/Henderson we always went to the Egg & I. In Wauchula we found that to be “The Pioneer”. This place is just unusual from the standpoint of rare rustic looks but also good large breakfasts. My favorite was a three egg omelet with a corned beef hash side. I wish I had taken a picture of this place as it looks something like The Pioneer Saloon in Goodsprings, Nevada!

We drove 40 miles over to Lake Placid, Florida. Not to be confused with the Lake Placid in New York State. The Florida Lake Placid is known as “The City of Murals”, and, we were there to see . . . the murals. Here is a city that has used the side walls of many businesses in town to tell the story of its heritage. All murals were very tastefully and professionally displayed. A few pictures will give you the idea of the beauty we saw.

One of our final days in Wauchula we drove 10 miles to the town of Ona, Florida to see Solomon’s Castle, which was 15 miles out the other side of Ona! Oh well, back in the car. This is a serious tourist attraction for something that is 15 miles from anything. You really have to want to go there, and when it was over we were glad we did. Howard Solomon, we met him, is an internationally known artist having been featured on BBC, PBS, CNN, Animal Planet, Spanish National TV, Better Homes & Gardens Network, Gannet Publications, The Wall Street Journal, Miami Herald, and the Boston Globe. You get the idea! Simply put, Howard Solomon’s makes artistic things from junk that other people discard. The outside of “The Castle” is tin. Most of the art is in the castle which also is the Solomon residence. There is one B&B unit in the back of the castle. Howard’s wife, Peggy, give the tours. His daughter and her husband run the restaurant inside the boat which is a three quarters replica of Columbus’ ship, the Santa Maria. We took the approximate one mile walk down the yellow brick road through the grounds. If you wanted to know more about Solomon’s Castle you could find it here: We enjoyed this whole experience including the restaurant.

Our last week at Wauchula was made exciting by late afternoon electrical storms. We were getting the tail end of the storms that were destroying property and taking lives in Mississippi and Alabama. We will never miss these Mother-Nature events!

We moved 200 miles from Wauchula, Florida to Homestead, Florida this past Wednesday. Until now I hadn’t said anything about the Florida “Love Bugs”. These little guys come out of the grass around 10 A.M. each morning and don’t go back to rest until around 3 P.M. They fly around attached in pairs, hence Love Bugs. These little guys are suicidal because when you are traveling down the road in your car, or motorhome, as the case may be, they hit your vehicle in droves. What a mess. I’ve included a picture of the front of the motorhome after the move to Homestead this past Wednesday. Ug!

We are excited to be in southern Florida and we picked an RV Park in the community of Homestead which is about 35 miles south of downtown Miami. Homestead and the smaller community of Florida City are the last towns before you drive into the Florida Keys. Key West will be our destination next week for a three day visit.

It has been a long time since Hurricane Andrew came through the Homestead/Florida City area. Actually it was August 1992. Doppler radar showed the storm’s eye passing right over the center of Biscayne National Park, 10 miles east, before it leveled these two communities as it moved east to west across lower Florida. We have seen the pictures. What a mess. As always . . . recovery was eminent. Today you would really never know.

The day after we arrived in Homestead we drove out to the Homestead entrance to Everglades National Park. This was a very different type of beauty - everglades! We checked in at the visitor’s center and told if we hustled 2 miles down the road we could catch the 10:30 A.M. walking tour put on by one of the park rangers. We hustled! Our guide, Bleu Waters, did an excellent job of explaining the eco-system of the Everglades. We saw, alligators, Spotted Alligator-Gar fish, Blue Herons, Vultures, and birds too numerous to follow. Again, a terrific experience.

We followed the Everglades visit with a 30 mile drive south to Key Largo. The islands of Key Largo are about 30 south and 30 miles long. We stopped and visited the Chamber of Commerce – Visitor’s Center. Asking for a lunch recommendation the representative directed us a couple miles south to Jimmy Johnson’s Sports Bar & Grill. Yes, that Jimmy Johnson! The x-coach of the Dallas Cowboys and now a TV commentator during the football season. Well, he has a really nice establishment there in Key Largo and we had a nice lunch sitting on the patio overlooking the waterway. So satisfying after a tough morning - escaping the everglades! 

Yesterday we took the drive into Miami and Miami Beach. Way too much construction going on in town. We gave up driving around Miami Beach. Beautiful area, but it was just too hard to get around. We sat through three lights a couple times. As we were coming back off the island of Miami Beach and into downtown Miami we turned into the business district. What a huge mistake that was. We got buried in the big tall white buildings, and the construction that was going on there. Janet is our navigator using her iPad. She quickly found us a way out, but it took us 45 minutes to get out. I guess the only way I can define Miami is that it is a downtown Los Angeles, totally under construction, but up against the Atlantic Ocean! We ended up driving south through old Miami, Coconut Grove, Biscayne, and a five star neighborhood where everything started with “Cutler” but looked like Bel Air in Los Angeles. Huge estates - No, HUGE estates! In the end this drive was more fun than confusing.

Today is Saturday, May 10th. We visited Biscayne National Park, a national park since 1980. It is about 10 miles east of Homestead. We sat through a couple movie presentation about the politics of getting the area into the national parks system, and the second was about the damage done my Hurricane Andrew in 1992. We walked the half mile walking trails around the visitor’s center. This is a beautiful place near Biscayne Bay that would allow you to see the skyline of Miami on a clear day. Unfortunate this wasn’t one of them.

On the way out of the area we came across the Homestead-Miami Speedway. This being used for NASCAR racing. We told a security guy we were fans from Vegas and he allowed us in to take a look. Nice facility and it looked like the track was recently surfaced.

Well so much. This catches everyone up that follows our excursion. The weather is heating up in the southeast and the summer is just around the corner. Should be interesting in the next month. Follow us along and just maybe you will get some vacation ideas.

Dave and Janet

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