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Wintering Over in Florida - '02-'03

This was an extra-special winter's trek for us - it was our first winter in our new Lazy Daze RV. Did we feel special or what !! It was so much more comfortable than our former slide-in truck camper. I guess we're now considered Snow-Birds. On this trip we decided to head all the way south to the Everglades and Key West. Was nice to see it once, but not quite our cup of tea.

 A highlight of our yearly winters in FL is the chance to see some long-time friends from New England. We meet Linda & Dwayne each year to celebrate New Years. This year we got together at Lake Manatee State Park near Bradenton.  PC300041
 P1020051

Oh what a mighty beast in the pelican...

His bill can hold more than his belly can...

He takes in his beak

Enough for a week

I don't know how the hell he can.

 While spending a day out on Casey Key, I encountered these two gentlemen kayaking. One was kind enough to let me give it a try. That's me in the red one, getting a little instruction.  P1020056
 P1060075  Here's a land-dredge that was used to build the first highway across the Everglades from Miami to the west coast. This is on display at Collier-Seminole SP.
We spent a day at Shark Valley in the Big Cypress National Preserve. Saw lots of these guys lazing about in the sun.   P1080094
P1100121  This is one of the rental houseboats down at Flamingo in the south Everglades. We camped there several days. Took this picture while on the Back Country Cruise. 
 The "Majesty of the Seas" is docked at Mallory Square in Key West.  P1160009
P1160013   The "strangling fig" trees are really amazing the way they surround the original tree and grow every which way over and around it. This was the biggest one we saw in Key West.
 At the Hemingway House, they still have dozens of cats, all descended from those that were there with Hemingway. This is the feline cemetery beside the house. P1160018 
 P1160030  As the sun starts to settle toward the sea, everyone begins to gather at Mallory Square. Not sure which is more interesting: the street performers or the folks in the crowd.
While in Key West, we stayed at the Navy's Trumbo Point dry-camp area. Our little LD seemed rather small surrounded by all those big boys. And boy, they sure liked to run their generators!   P1170042
 P1180049  Having come all this way, we had to be sure we officially made it as far south as one can go.
 Several days we drove over to Truman Annex and parked by the beach for the day. Got a lucky sunset shot, with the sailboat and sinking sun getting there at the same time. P1190054 
 P1210066  After leaving the keys, we headed up to Lake Okeechobee. Spent the night at the Pahokee Marina and CG. The sites are right at the water's edge.
 The next stop was Highland Hammocks SP, where we found this walkway through the cypress swamp. A little narrow and a railing only on one side. This is a fairly old park and it shows - not really built for today's RV's. But we had no trouble parking the LD at our site. P1220076 
 P2210024  Then it was off to the Panhandle and a month at St Joseph Peninsula SP. Site #37 is the best in the park, sunny, private, and right beside the boardwalk.
 Early one morning a severe thunderstorm came rumbling through. As the rain stopped, these turbulent clouds remained. P2220026