Ortona Lock (ACOE) Campground
Trip Start Nov 19, 2007
217Trip End Ongoing
Map your own trip!
Show trip route
Wednesday February 11th, 2009
This is the first Army Corp of Engineers park we had ever been to and we were amazed at what we found. The park is built around one of the Army Corp locks that make boat navigation across the state of FL possible. We had no idea that a canal system existed that connected Ft. Myers on the Gulf coast to the Saint Lucie Locks that are located in Stuart, on the Atlantic side. We saw sailboats, cabin cruisers and barges (empty, so ? as to their cargo) coming and going from east to west and visa versa. One of the cabin cruiser captains told me it takes him a couple of days to cross and that he likes to spend a night on Lake Okeechobee which is about in the middle.
Like so many other cool campgrounds we've been lucky enough to get into, we were unaware of how coveted a stay at this park is. People book many months in advance to get into ANY of the Army Corp parks and we got into two of them on our first try because of last minute cancellations. Of the 5 or 6 people that we talked to, all of them had been to this park before and some had been coming back for years.
While we were waiting for the lock to fill and lift the boats inside high enough to exit on the eastern side, we noticed a grayish nose poke up through the water and take a deep breath before submerging again. Manatees! We keep seeing them from afar, but this is the first time we were able to stand over them and get a good look at how huge and social they are. It was surprising that they were hanging out in the lock, but the guys who work there say it happens all the time.
The biking was excellent, as it went past a large farm with crazy horned cattle and exotic sounding birds. There was absolutely no road noise and as the sun set we heard owls, cows mooing and coyotes far off in the distance....outstanding!