Hiking the U.S.,  Travel Guides and Tips from Nerds on the Road

Florida: Week 5

Florida has been pretty beautiful and warm since we got here (as if that’s anything unexpected) and we are now at our 3rd Florida state park. We arrived at Collier Seminole State Park Monday morning, the largest park so far, and part of the Cypress National Forest. The first 2 parks, Little Manatee River State Park and Koreshan State Historic Site, were dense areas of low brush and sparse trees, pine, palm and oak. The campsites were private and we rarely had neighbors which is always awesome for us and the animals. Both parks were very small but offered canoe rentals and a little hiking, and we saw Gopher Tortoises daily and Koreshan had a skunk, a few armadillos and a raccoon that lived in the palm tree in our second spot (for the second week we had to move to a new spot.. always lame).
So far Collier Seminole State Park is way different than the first two. We are basically surrounded by marshlands with such dense, thick brush and trees you can only just see through to the mucky ground. By comparison, the first 2 parks were on fire warning for dryness and at Koreshan, most everywhere you looked were charred looking trees – whether from a controlled burn or not I don’t know. It was nice to have a break from the humidity, but back in the marshes we are bombarded with bugs as soon as we step outside and my allergies are on a rampage. The layout of the park is way different as well, the campsites are open lawn with random trees throughout and there is no barrier or privacy from the campers next to you.
After seeing a map we asked about the hiking trailer and were warned to take the smaller ones first before the 6 mile one to see if we could handle the horseflies. Ross read up about these guys and being bit is nothing less than a miniature horror movie. The bastards slash and tear at your flesh with razor sharp mouth mandible bits, resulting in a golf ball sized swollen puss filled wound! – not to mention they carry diseases. Ross is set on trying to take on the long hike anyway and we plan to look for some mosquito net hats, galoshes and long sleeve shirts tomorrow. One article he read says the longer trail can also have knee deep water, and in an alligator and python infested forest, it should be pretty damn interesting.
We also plan to canoe several miles of the park, hopefully, but maybe not, as much as 13 miles to a bay somewhere in the middle. We could see Manatees or Otters and will probably see alligators and a ton of turtles and hope that our inexperience in alligator infested waters doesn’t make us end up on the third page of the local paper (having been eaten by alligators of course) and a bad example of ‘asshole tourists’.

The animal I really hope to see if the Florida Skunk Ape.

At some point since we’ve been in Florida, Ross came across the name for the Florida Big Foot, the Skunk Ape, and last night I had a dream about something in the same family… some kind of lab created skunk ape bitten by a warewolf ‘lycanthro-foot’, if you will (lycanthropy is when a person turns into a wolf). He was 8 feet tall, redish brown and hairy all over. His wolf ears pointed straight up off his head a good 8 inches and his claws were 10 inches long and started with a base 2 inches wide, ending at a razor point meant to kill, dig, play piano, whatever was necessary.
In my dream my father had created him and only my father could control him. While my father was away, the beast escaped and roamed the city, killing as it pleased. We (me and someone else – unknown) came home to find it had returned and was waiting outside the second story apartment door where we lived. We were halfway up the stairs when we realized it had come home. We heard a grumble or snore and started to back down the stairs quietly, listening to see if it had heard us. It had, and as we ran from the building, we could see him on the stairwell looking over the railing at us. He ran down the stairs twice as fast as our fastest bolt but we made it to a mini mart next door, just about to close its doors we pushed the owner aside and pulled down the chain gate just in time. We checked all the doors as quickly as possible while the monster smashed into the gate, snarling frantically. We could still hear him digging after we closed the doors and turned out the lights. A wolf lay next to a glass door near the beast, with its face pressed against the glass, just groggily preparing for a nap just feet from the sasquatch-wolf who paid it no mind.

I can dream.

Tonight we watched about 4 hours of TV shows that we downloaded months ago, Kids in the Hall, Father Ted, Star Trek The Next Gen and Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job. Typical Friday night. Between each, playing with Chena and Susa, the most spoiled non-attention starved pets on the planet (we probably annoy them if anything).

I’d like to make it to the Zombie Walk in Fort Myers this weekend but with the plans above and Fort Myers being 40 miles away now, it doesn’t seem likely. As uneventful and unprogressive as west Florida towns have been so far I wonder what a zombie walk will be like here. I guess the fact that they are having one says something at least. Florida has proven to be really different than every other states so far. More difficult to find places to eat, but the most common grocery store, Publix, has a pretty good selection of veggie products and a health food section and there is at least one Whole foods within 30 miles. On the other hand, of all the states we’ve been to, we’ve never had a restaurant question or laugh at our non meat eating lifestyle. Even in small towns in Louisiana, Alabama and Texas, asking someone if something has meat, or making sure it doesn’t, was never met with rudeness like it was at a Japanese restaurant here. The waitress said “you know, plants are alive too”, “fish aren’t animals” and “god put cows here for us to eat” in the span of a few minutes but her naivety on the subject, and my desire to educate her a little, kept us from just walking out. Some of her confusion was cultural, religious, whatever.. not that it excuses rudeness, but I do like to educate people from time to time on things I feel strongly about.. I don’t preach and I don’t expect or try to convert anyone, but I do try to explain why people are vegan/vegetarian and maybe they could end up having at least some respect for vegan/vegetarians’ feelings on the subject (especially since it literally doesn’t hurt anyone).
I never understood why people insist that their beliefs are so right that they take it upon themselves to persecute and judge others who don’t have the same beliefs or social patterns. I know it’s like the most common injustice on the planet but seriously… mind your own damn business people. Anyway, I’m going to go poke Ross with a stick because he listens to electronic music and metal is obviously the superior. Night!

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One Comment

  • georgie

    ugh!! that annoys me. I hate when people try to explain fish are less superior or that lobsters are bugs and it’s ok to eat them. Yes. Please try to justify why eating giant bugs is OK! lol
    and the whole plants are alive speech. Yes. Heard it so many times. It’s true. But the point is to eat and survive without hurting someone else, nature, and well there’s less of a chance to keep a plant chained up to grow it in horrible conditions. I think with plants, they would die and animals maybe have more strength. ….I think i should switch to organic veggies only :\
    this is why i want to have my own land to grow my little own little veggies.

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