01 Meandering South

Trip Start Nov 06, 2008
1
6
Trip End Apr 30, 2009


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Flag of Canada  , Ontario,
Thursday, December 4, 2008

After circumnavigating Lake Superior we headed for Milwaukie where Cindy and her siblings celebrated her Mum's ninetieth birthday by taking her to the casino and a football game (in a bar since the Packers were away - they lost in overtime) in a fifty foot RV. A good time was had by all; Bogie and I did lots of  shopping and we stocked up on Miso soup mix at Trader Joe's so I can make my famous stews while camping,

Headed for Toronto in the rain and spent the night in a "cheapo" motel near Kalamazoo, then continued on the next day and crossed the border at Detroit. While on highway 401, doing about 110 kmph, the van axle broke (likely due to lack of lubrication, which unfortunately is improvable although I changed all fluids three weeks earlier). It is no fun trying to keep the van from rolling while avoiding your runaway wheel and other traffic without brakes. I was happily surprised that Baby survived the mishap, although the bike carrier was dragging on the road for a couple hundred yards. Interesting that from a monetary standpoint, I would have been better off hitting another car or guardrail so the insurance would fix the van.

Continued to Mississauga in a rental car so I could have my three inch colon resection -- three days in hospital plus  no heavy lifting for five weeks; diagnosis was diverticulosis. No more bikinis on the beach (as the world cheers). Picked up the van three weeks later (with a lighter wallet) and headed for highway 75 due to the crappy weather. Spent a couple nights in motels, where Bogie gets to sleep on a people bed, as we meandered south to warmth.

After hitting the Florida state line (stopping at the welcome area for some free fresh orange juice), we visited a horse farm north of Ocala for a night and gave Bogie a swim, after first checking for gators,  in the Ocala National Forest. The next day, we visited Cindy's daughter and her husband in Tampa where college football was the highlight (GO GATORS GO - who are now in the national championship game on January seventh). The next day, visited the Braithwaite's condo in Naples to see Anne and offer her a kayak trip in the Everglades.

Finally returned to the lifestyle that I love; camped in Collier-Seminole state park for a couple of nights. The park is wonderful and displays the last walking dredge which helped redefined southern Florida by draining the swamp while  nearly killing the Everglades. The hiking is wonderful and watching two friendly manatees feed is impressive.

Before heading for the Everglades, we spent two more nights of free camping at Pinecrest in the Big Cypress National Preserve. On the way there, we toured the Big Cypress Bend which has the largest Cypress trees that I have ever seen and also utilized the Loop Road - slow, rough and muddy but extremely beautiful, especially Sweet Water Strand. The loop road was closed late November due to high water washing out the road and has not since been graded.

Headed for the Everglades base camp on Pine Island after picking up supplies...

More updates next year... AND I hope everyone has a Happy New Year...

Tidbits:
- When in London, if needed, "Ross Car and Truck Repair" is worthwhile utilizing -- they are competent and inexpensive (when possible, utilized used parts).
- Gas prices, even though they have dropped, coupled with the stock market crash is keeping many regulars from appearing down here; hopefully Bucky and Dagger will arrive soon :).
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