South Florida

March 5

Up and out by 7:30, we headed toward our next destination located on the eastern side of Florida. But first stopped at Big Cyprus National Preserve and walked the boardwalk behind the visitor center. A ranger we chatted with pointed us to Ten Thousand Islands NWR, so we drove 15 miles in the opposite direction and enjoyed a walk on their boardwalk, then hiked a trail for about 1.5 miles.

Back on track across “Alligator Alley” we stopped by the second preserve visitor center and walked out to the observation point there.

Our next stop was Everglades National Park Shark Valley visitor center where we got a stamp in our book and walked a very short trail.

Arriving at Jonathon Dickinson State Park around 4:45 we set up camp, used the restroom, then quickly broke camp and headed out to explore the park. It is a good size park with lots to do, hiking, horseback riding, and more. The campground has been recently renovated making it feel brand spanking new. This was one of the best state parks we’ve been to.

I cooked up some naked cheese burgers, baked potatoes and black beans for dinner.

March 6

We slept in until 7:00, then had breakfast and took showers before heading up to Hobe Sound NWR. The refuge was small and much of it was closed for renovations. We hiked one of the few open trails and it was a good first stretch for the day. We met some men with their dogs playing in the water. One of them ran up to me sopping wet and happy. I gave him a pat on his flank and he dashed off to chase his buddy.

Driving about an hour south we visited Arthur R. Marshall Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge. The first walk we had was on the Cyprus Swamp boardwalk trail where we saw a racoon. This is a great NWR! Lots of divided marshes, and plenty of parking. We saw a bunch of butterflies, a raptor we have to identify, gallinule with chicks, lesser yellowlegs, warblers, and a king rail. That last one we spotted while eating lunch on a bench overlooking one of the marshes. We grabbed our cameras and fired off a few shots.

Our last stop of the day was at Karen’s cousin, Angel’s home in Melbourne where we will be boondocking nearby for a few days.

Campground: Jonathon Dickinson State Park, Florida. This is a large state park with lots to do during the high season. The RV camping sites were paved and level, but had no shade. The bathrooms were clean and in good shape. The price was good for the quality of the sites.