Tomorrow AM bright and early (as in OMG 6AM) we are leaving Sebring for Key West Florida to accomplish our goal of:
A. Getting as far as conceivably possible from Whidbey without hitting a foreign county and
B. Continuing to follow the sun
Early departure is mandated by two factors – one being it’s a long way there and we want to stop in the Everglades for an air boat ride and the other is that the people in Sebring drive like maniacs and we want to clear the city before the blue hairs get on the road armed with robust Buicks. Frankly, we have been in lots of places on this trip with a large population of older people, heck, we ARE older people, but this is the first time we have felt that the majority of those folks are grouchy, angry and just plain mean. And it shows in their driving – boy does it show! So early up and early out.
We have spent the last two days exploring Sebring and the surrounding area and finding it beautiful. One highlight was Highlands Hammock State Park http://www.floridastateparks.org/highlandshammock/ which was only about four miles from where we hitched up Mobi for the duration. Opening in 1931, the park is one of the earliest examples of grass-roots public support for environmental preservation. Local citizens, with financial assistance of the Margaret Shippen Roebling family, acquired the property constructing trails and basic facilities in 1930. In 1934, a Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) camp began working on a botanical garden project adjacent to Highlands Hammock Park. When Florida¿s state park system was established in 1935, Highlands Hammock became one of the first parks. In 1941, the park and gardens merged as the CCC camp closed due to impending war. Although the gardens never became a reality, the park’s natural beauty endures. This was a fabulous place and we had the opportunity to take about a mile walk through the swamp/hammock area on a boardwalk and view the vegetation and few animals. I am not sure if I should be happy or sad about not seeing alligators and snakes – I think happy is it. Shall we vote?
Having promised not to molest the alligators (frankly, whoever would molest an alligator – really!) we proceeded out on the board walk to practice our balancing act and try not to become a statistic in the Florida Parks system.
This would be our wildlife below – cute little turtle – actually he was about 14″ long – and really pretty.
The swamp fascinated us – like being in a time long ago – and we learned that this particular area is called a hammock not because it swings from trees, but as defined by Webster from the work “hummock” first used in the 1500’s:
a fertile area in the southern United States and especially Florida that is usually higher than its surroundings and that is characterized by hardwood vegetation and deep humus-rich soil
For those of us from the Pacific Northwest, who are used to running water, water falls, large evergreen trees and rocky mountain areas this is the opposite of what you would expect beautiful to be – but it is just that, beautiful, wild, and seemingly untouched. We even spoke quietly – it was like being in a cathedral and you had to be in some state of awe just viewing the wildness of it all. We both could appreciate the wonder of what this planet must have looked like in it’s infancy and marveled at the difference between the extreme Northwest and extreme Southeast – again, those two ends of the same telescope – just different views.
Of course, no trip anywhere for the O’Briens would be complete without the requisite viewing of someone elses trike – this time it was a custom Harley of a conversion package we had not heard of before nor, frankly, can we remember the name now. But it was pretty and a nice ride although no matter how hard Bill tried they would not trade it for the jeep – dreamin’ for sure.
Other news to report: Bill could not get it to see the doctor today as he (the doc) had “emergency surgery” and was so backed up that he could have seen Bill about 10 PM so we passed. Lucy is doing very well – she has her routine and milks the gifting of “dog toy treats” for all it is worth. In fact, we hope she stays this mellow once we get home – which will be by February 4 – we have capitulated on Bill’s knee and are coming home to get him retreaded or whatever needs to be done – too hard to do this on the road – so we shall return to Whidbey wet, cold weather and all, to see our friends and heal whatever needs to be healed – but first KEY WEST – the other promised land.
Life is good. We’ll have a fake Bahama Mama on the Beach for you all.