"" Writer's Wanderings: Road Trip To The Gulf Coast

Friday, February 10, 2023

Road Trip To The Gulf Coast

 Some may think the only reason we are snowbirds is because of the weather. It's not. The other half of the reason to come to Florida is to be able to spend time with our Florida kids. This year they have moved from the Miami area to the Gulf Coast area of Florida between Venice and Fort Meyers. So, we made the four hour trek from Key Largo to where they are to see them and explore the area looking for a new place to rent that isn't a four hour drive to visit. 

Our son always likes to take scenic routes. Bob prefers straight and fast. We compromised with a plan to do scenic on the way over and the faster route on the way back. Actually they both work out to be about the same.

The scenic route is the Tamiami Trail (Route 41). The route goes from US 1 in Miami to SR 60 in Tampa. It was the original "Alligator Alley" and opened in April of 1928. When it was built, not enough consideration was given to how it would affect the ecosystem of the Everglades. It became essentially a huge dam crossing the Everglades and slowing the flow of water. 

While the Everglades may look like just an immense field of tall grass, it is actually a very wide flowing river of fresh water that feeds estuaries where wildlife needs it to survive. Some of that problem is being corrected in a project that will allow water to flow underneath some places of the highway. 

Yes, it is scenic. As you cross the Everglades the grassy river/land stretches for miles. In places where there is more water, scores of birds like herons, egrets, cranes, anhingas and the like can be seen fishing for their meals or drying out in the trees or bushes with their wings spread. 

We did not see one alligator however. Of course we didn't have the advantage of our sharp-eyed grandkids traveling with us. They probably would have spotted a dozen at least. There were plenty of airboat places that featured rides into the glades and guaranteed sightings of gators. 

There are several signs along the way as well warning of panthers crossing. We've never seen one and that could be because they're mostly out at night. Still...eyes open for the possibility

Along the trail there are also several Indian villages and one that is open to tourists, the Miccosukee Indian Village. I've always wanted to stop there but it wasn't going to happen this day. In addition to the Indian villages, we passed several trailheads for hikers and a few places where small boats could be launched into the canals to go fishing. 

It was a pleasant journey and it ended with a visit to Manasota Key, a place we were considering for our winter stay next year. 

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