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March 26, 2017
The whole reason for this great trip was to have state of the art solar installed on the Airstream. After many hours of research and considering doing it myself, I found the best man for the job was Lew Farber in Naples. Lew splits his time between Oregon and Naples. I am so happy I didn’t try to do this job!! Lew did a fabulous job and is a really nice guy. It took 8 days for Lew to get it done, so we toured Naples for a week, which made Martha very happy.
We stayed at the best Best Western there could be. The staff was great, the grounds were very cool, nice pool and a good location. I have never seen so many fancy, expensive cars in my life. Rolls, Bentleys, Ferraris, Teslas, Porsches, Jaguars and Maseratis. Mercedes, BMWs and Lexus were a dime a dozen. The car of the year in Florida though is the Mustang. I have never seen so many Mustangs. Of course this is a very rich city with incredible houses, and there are stories of success everywhere.
We rode bikes through neighborhoods with landscaping so beautiful. We took the tour tram to get the big picture. We drove to beaches and restaurants, the winner being Capt. Marco’s for fresh fish, fried plantains and black beans. The chocolate soufflé was the winning desert at an Italian restaurant. Then there was the gourmet hotdog place. We had to leave town while we could move!
There are so many new developments surrounding this area, it is mind-boggling. All the congressmen want the Federal government to help them with water to save the Everglades! Typical! There are just too many people in Florida. I could say that about Charlottesville too. The amount of development and people with all the water consumed and put back into the system makes me wonder how it can be done. Then the landscaping, and every house has sprinkler systems. Fruit and vegetable farms are abundant, along with cattle. They have to irrigate a lot too. The Everglades are at the end of the water line.
March 25, 2017
On our way out of the Everglades, we got to stop again at Robert’s Fruit Stand, 19200 SW 344th St, Homestead, FL 33034. We picked up a few more things, including a wonderful milkshake. They have so many kinds, it’s hard to choose. Waiting in line, I asked what looked like a veteran in front of me. A very nice gentleman, he said he had been here hundreds of times and tried most of the flavors, but settled on orange/mango and he puts a little honey on it. I did the same and it was great. For my own edification, I would like to try all the others. I talked again with Robert and a nice lady took our picture. This guy is so nice, you feel instantly like you are friends. He knows fruits and vegetables like no one else. They ship fruit and vegetables all over at https://www.robertishere.com. The stand is listed on the National Culinary Heritage Register. Do not miss it!
The history is cool: from Emma Court and the Miami Herald, June 27, 2014:
It’s hard to imagine a time Robert wasn’t here. But back in 1959, Moehling’s father was a struggling farmer with a harvest of cucumbers the broker couldn’t sell and no money to buy boxes for the latest harvest.
He sent Robert — then, a first-grader — to sell the surplus cucumbers by the side of the road, propped on a makeshift table. Robert didn’t sell a single one. The next time, Robert put up a big sign, script painted on some spare hurricane shutters, “telling the world I was here,” Robert explains. The cucumbers sold out.
The stand is still in the same place and has the same name. No longer a piece of plywood and some crates, the stand has expanded in size and selection — scaly fuchsia dragonfruit alongside plump beefsteak tomatoes. Moehling, who has worked at the stand since he was 6 — the schoolbus dropped him there after school — can still be found behind the counter. He met his wife, Tracey, there; his four children, as well as two daughters-in-law, all work at the stand. They built the Splash Pad, a sprinkler for children, in the back because Moehling — who works more than a hundred hours a week — wanted to spend more time with his grandchildren.
Moehling himself grew up at a young age: he hired his first employee at the age of 9; at 14, he bought 10 acres of land complete with a house, a car and a lawnmower. By the time he got his driver’s license, Moehling was helping broker produce sales for other farmers.
“I didn’t have a normal childhood like a lot of people might grow up doing. Laying around watching cartoons on weekends is something I’ve never done,” Moehling said. “Even today I can’t watch television — usually I fall asleep.”
Robert is Here has both longtime and first-time customers. Rod Richards of Cutler Bay, who ordered a strawberry milkshake for his young son, said he’d passed by many times and always meant to stop. Having finally checked it off his to-do list, he said he’d be back.
Linnell Truchon, a Philadelphia native who works at a summer camp down the road from the stand, comes by frequently for smoothies. She enjoys the flavored honeys and tropical fruits.
“I’m from up North so I don’t know what these things are,” she said. “They’re really cool.”
Though the stand’s immense popularity is not a recent development — Moehling says he couldn’t handle the number of visitors in 1964 and that it has been “growing equally insane every day” — he is still awed by the number of customers who come in.
“It’s just amazing. I grow fruit and sell fruit and have a family. That’s all I do. I don’t operate on people, don’t change people’s lives for good, don’t fight for you in the courtroom,” he said. “It’s so much responsibility — getting all this for doing just my life.”
Now pushing 62, Moehling says he’ll probably be working at the stand until the day he dies.
“This is not a retirement job,” he said.
Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/news/local/community/miami-dade/homestead/article1973051.html#storylink=cpy
March 25, 2017
The Everglades is a very special place, which shouldn’t surprise me as most national parks are wonderful, but I will go back with much greater appreciation and more time. We didn’t even touch 10,000 Island area, and we couldn’t get into Shark Valley as the parking lot was full. The end of Route 29 is near Smallwood’s store on the south tip of the Everglades where the Smallwood family still runs the store.
March 24, 2017
We rented a canoe to take the water trail through 9-Mile Lake. These canoes were big and heavy, making it difficult to maneuver in the tight mangroves There was a 20 mph wind, and I didn’t think this was a very good idea as we headed across the lake into the wind. We could easily be pushed up against the mangroves and turn over, but as we finally made it into the narrow parts of the trail, we were mostly protected from the wind. The first bay teemed with wildlife – ducks, coots, Ibis and shore birds were everywhere. It’s a tough place to shoot pictures though. The wind pushed us around and I couldn’t get a good shot before they all took off. A giant Blue Heron took off well in front of us.
After paddling kayaks for weeks, I saw the difficulty of handling a canoe in tight places. I kept watching for snakes in the mangroves to drop into the canoe. Never mind biting me, I would die of a heart attack. I have watched many shows on TV about the proliferation of escaped Anacondas, Pythons and others in the Everglades, I was nervous going through these tight places, but we only saw one alligator. One area was quite shallow and we barely made it through. I thought I would have to get out and walk it through, and that would have been interesting with a very soft bottom. The bottom is only soft for a foot or two, and then there is a limestone base. You could see it in many places, looking like someone had dropped cinderblocks. The wind was behind us as we came out to the big lake. We didn’t have to paddle, as it carried us at about 4 miles an hour.
We turned in our canoe and went back to the trailer for lunch. Martha opted for a quiet afternoon of reading and a nap while I went back to the rookery. I met a nice young couple from Quebec. They were traveling for 10 days and were going to the Keys tomorrow. The wind was so fierce, the birds were unable to fly into the wind. Even the Swallow Tails were having difficulty. I went back onto the main road and stopped along the left side. Climbing onto the tool box in the bed of the truck, I could sit on the kayak with my feet on the toolbox and have an incredible view. There was a pool in front of me, but sitting there for a while, I realized this went on for miles and miles. I could see birds feeding a half mile away. Each time I started to leave another bird flew into my pond.
On my return to camp, one pond was loaded with wildlife – Egrets, ducks and shore birds. I don’t know what the ducks were eating, but they were slowly swimming along with their heads under water having a ball. It makes you realize how much food is here. I don’t know what it all is, but the more I see in the Everglades, the more impressed I am. Right in the campground, we have seen Ibis everywhere, hawks and Ospreys are nesting on every tall object. In front of the visitor’s center dolphins swim right up to the wall. Pelicans are everywhere, and a giant alligator attracted lots of attention in the marina. We leave tomorrow, so we don’t even have time for one of the cruises or the half-hour lectures they have. I want to come back! But tomorrow – Shark Valley!
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March 22, 23, 2017
Driving back up the Keys to Homestead, we stopped at Robert’s, a great fruit and vegetable place and were lucky enough to be waited on by Robert who told us about his brother and how they had a rift about the election, politics and marches on Washington. Now they don’t speak. This is a very cool place with a great story I will tell you later. Must go now and pick up the Airstream that has had a complete solar make-over by Lew Farber. I can’t wait!!
We drove into the park to Long Pine Key Campground. This is a first come, first serve campground with no hookups. It was very nice, but pretty empty. A raft of mosquitoes greeted us as we unhooked, and we quickly realized why it was empty. We sprayed down and I sent Martha into the trailer. We were amazed at people walking down the road with no apparent problem. People were bike riding, but across from us a young group quickly broke camp, packing up their tents and cars while swatting themselves. After talking with a few people, we found out you were safe in the road, or riding a bike, or on the water in a boat, but step on the grass or in the shade and you will be swarmed. We drove around a bit, but didn’t discover anything much.
We stayed at the very nice Grassy Key RV Resort. The site was really tight, but this is a great place – like a club really, where people return for 2-5 months every year. Everyone was very nice, and the place is very clean. I’m not a pool lover, but this is a great one because they keep it so clean.
Visiting Curry Hammock State Park for the day, we separately kayaked a cool loop through the mangroves and out across the beach. We only have Martha’s kayak, but this is only a one hour trip, so that was no big deal. This is a great park with a super campground with only 25 sites, so they are booked 11 months in advance. The sites are big and clean. The beach is beautiful and not crowded. It is on Grassy Key which is about half way down the Keys, a good central location.
March 19, 2017
We went to Key West, took a nice bus tour of city, toured Hemingway house which was very cool and pretty, ate an original Sloppy Joe where Hemingway drank and Key Lime Pie at the Key Lime Shoppe. The Hemingway House was the best part of the day. First, it’s a beautiful house, well-designed and built. Then all the stories about Hemingway were great. He felt six-toed cats were lucky, so they were everywhere. Then there were his many loves and marriages, the people he met and wrote about, and of course, his drinking.
The bus tour was good, giving us the big picture of Key West. I don’t know how they drive those narrow streets. With a huge cruise ship in port, the streets were packed. People rented bicycles and scooters, riding all over, not knowing where they were going, gawking at all the sights. Too many people in one place for me, but I’ve been there. It was interesting to hear how Flagler built an impossible train track to Key West, cool train station and incredible hotel. It was all destroyed by a hurricane but rebuilt only to have another big hurricane come through and destroy it again. Tourism died until the 80’s. It would have been very cool to see all of the keys in the 60’s and 70’s.