Heading to the Florida Keys – Our North American RV Tour

Our street at Cooked Hook RV Resort Clewiston, Florida
Our street at Crooked Hook RV Resort Clewiston, Florida
Wednesday, November 15 – Day 78
Another sunny humid day greeted Lynda and I as we poked our heads out of the trailer. The A/C ran most of the night waking me several times.
The high humidity covered everything with heavy dew as if a summer storm had passed during the night. The palm tree towering over our trailer shedded huge droplets of dew through the morning.
It has been three and a half months since we left our homes in the northwest, needless to say, my exercise program has been non-existent save for walking the cities to see the sights. Although I have not weighed myself I am positive I have donned a few ounces or maybe more than a few.
Now that we are taking a long break from traveling I plan to get back to an exercise routine beginning this morning. I need to do something with the extra person I’m packing around, it’s a small person, the size of a toddler, so off to the resort gym, I go.
Fortunately, November is not high season and most of the winter residents have not yet arrived…….. I’m alone in the gym……… a good way to begin.
Crooked Hook RV Resort is in the middle of a million and a half flat acres of sugar cane fields crisscrossed by drainage canals containing alligators.
Burning off the sugar cane preparing for harvest
Burning off the sugar cane preparing for harvest
It has been said, ‘any body of water in Florida may contain alligators’. I guess after our two-month stay we will find out if this is true hopefully not by close encounters.
Lake Okeechobee, the largest lake in Florida, is on the other side of the highway from Crooked Hook. The lake is surrounded by a high dike and a canal which makes it impossible to see or get to the water’s edge without driving to a designated access point.
Today Henry and Allyson fly home for two months, a break from the trip and Christmas with their children, grandchildren, and one precious great-granddaughter.
A medium size alligator we spotted in the drainage ditch behind Cooked Hook
A medium size alligator we spotted in the drainage ditch behind Crooked Hook
Ralph and Lois volunteered to drive them to the Fort Lauderdale Airport for their flight home. Lynda and I decided to take a drive around Lake Okeechobee and check out other RV parks.
Crooked Hook is a decent spot to spend the winter but better lake access would be a bonus….. it would be great to spend some time fishing. Lake Okeechobee is said to be one of the best bass lakes in the world.
I googled RV Resorts near Lake Okeechobee and found a few likely prospects complete with pictures, but I’ve learned a picture doesn’t always tell the truth.
Like my Dad used to say, ‘it’s like buying a pig in a poke’,……didn’t know what it meant back then and still no idea,  my guess is something like ‘sight unseen’.
Anyway, Lynda and I have time to kill, Ralph and Lois will be gone most of the day.
Soon after the other four left for the airport, Lynda and I headed out for the hundred & fifty mile trip around the lake. A warm sunny day perfect for a leisurely drive through the countryside.
We headed east on highway 27 and then north on highway 98. As we drove the GPS took us to the RV parks I was most interested in.
My suspicions were confirmed most of the parks were no better than Crooked Hook. The best prospect was a pretty park on a canal with lush lawns and paving stone campsites bordered by palm trees, but considering the price of fifty percent more and with virtually no amenities we agreed to stay put.
Lake Okeechobee is huge surrounded by a large dike with a complex series of dams controlling the many canals flowing in and out, flood control is my guess.
We drove through several old towns with many deserted industrial buildings depicting a more prosperous era.
The northern shore is farm and cattle ranch country while the other shores are sugar cane fields all at various stages of growth.
We arrived back at Crooked Hook in time to enjoy a dip in the pool and 80+ degrees. Ralph and Lois arrived in time for happy hour….although happy hour can be anytime………. it’s 5 o’clock somewhere……… LOL.
Crooked Hook RV Resort, Clewiston Florida
Crooked Hook RV Resort, Clewiston Florida
Thursday, November 16 – Day 79
Henry and Allyson emailed us this morning, they are home safe and sound in the northwest or southwestern BC, Canada to be more accurate, they had a good flight and are already missing the heat.
Vancouver in the southwest corner of BC, Canada is known for its mild winters but with the temperate climate comes rain, rain and more rain.
We four remaining travelers are cautiously excited today. We are continuing our trip………to the Florida Keys for a two-week dream vacation. Since planning this trip, the Florida Keys stop has been much anticipated.
Unfortunately, Hurricane Irma arrived before us, two months ago devastating parts of the Keys. It’s been necessary to change our original plans from a resort on Cudjoe Key because of the damage from Irma.
Our new destination is Key Largo Kampground on, you guessed it Key Largo. Key Largo is situated north of the center of Irma’s route.
We’ve been in touch with Key Largo Kampground and have been assured the damage was minimal and their people are working diligently to restore the resort to pre-Irma condition.
In fact, a quote from the manager ‘ If you did not know Irma had passed through the area you would have trouble finding evidence.’
This explanation was good to hear…… providing peace of mind for the four of us.
Another amazing sunny day as we leave Crooked Hook RV Resort and head east towards Miami and then south to Key Largo. The drive today should be short, 150 miles with a stop at Walmart to replenish supplies, but it will probably take us most of the day to get to Key Largo we are taking a scenic route.
Our stop at the Homestead Walmart was a pain, hard to get into and extremely busy. Our first attempt at parking was thwarted by an over officious security guard. He directed us to the far end of the lot.
Under the watchful eye of the parking lot nazi, we found vacancy at a remote area of the lot, a good walk from the Walmart door……….the girls will be pleased!
This Walmart was the busiest I’ve seen, apparently it’s the last day to cash in food stamps. I’m guessing something to do with hurricane Irma disaster relief. A twenty-minute stop turned into an hour and a half.
Lynda was fuming by the time she arrived back at the trailer, the lineup at the cashier was ½ a block long, and a fight broke out when someone tried to butt in the line.
I would have liked to see that but I was deligated to watch our rigs.
The parking lot was larger than most Walmarts, Lynda had quite a walk to the trailer. Lucky I had lunch ready is all I can say.
Once back on the road and heading south to Key Largo indications of damage from Hurricane Irma became apparent.
The Keys Highway follows a narrow spit of land with ocean on both sides, the farther south we traveled the more debris we encountered along the roadside. Broken trees, destroyed chain link fencing, and crooked lines of washed up garbage.
The damage didn’t seem significant until we turned onto the access road to Largo Kampground, both sides of the road were piled high with debris, appliances, furniture, broken boats, trashed travel trailers, hulks of destroyed mobile homes, anything you might imagine………… a terrible site.
Hurricane Irma's , destruction, Key Largo Florida
Hurricane Irma’s destruction, Key Largo Florida
The images of the debris brought a solemn quiet to the group as we reflected on the people who had lost everything to hurricane Irma.
Our next thought………our campsites what state will they be in,……….. will we encounter the same disaster?
We pulled into the campground registration line and went to the office to register. All seemed normal?
The cost per week was $455. plus tax expensive but worth it if we are close to the water. When I made our reservations the sites on the water were $150. more per week. The four of us agreed at the time not to spend the extra and reserve sites one row away from the water.
After registration, we follow the map to our assigned campsites and parked. Disappointment is an understatement. The managers encouraging remarks were a little off the mark.
His eyesight fine when we met him at the office but obviously he has an issue.
The area behind our spot was a dense swamp filled with floating and submerged debris. The swamp spewed an aroma of decaying vegetation. The cooling afternoon brought another unwelcome surprise, hordes of bugs, the worst tiny nits with an irritating bite.
Debris behind our campsite, hurricane Irma, Key Largo Florida
Debris behind our campsite, hurricane Irma, Key Largo Florida
The bite was bad enough, but more irritating was these tiny beasties insisted on flying into the orifices on your face. Up your nose was the worst causing violent snorting and coughing.
Repellent stopped the bites, but the little buggers continued to buzz your face like tiny dog fighting war planes seeking to enter your holes.
Ralph and Lois’s lot had the same amenities as ours plus a bonus of oceanfront, or I guess more accurate closer than oceanfront, they were in the ocean. Their lot flooded twice a day coinciding with the high tide.
When Ralph complained to the park manager, she agreed their lot does flood at certain times of the year, but not to worry the flooding should stop over the next week or so.
Across the sandy narrow lane from our sites, the water lots were a mess, wharves lay broken hanging in mid-air like the Incredible Hulk had taken a disliking to them and pounded them with his great fists. Other lots hosted old trailers damaged beyond repair some laying on their side waiting to be hauled away.
More reminders of hurricane Irma, Key Largo Florida
More reminders of hurricane Irma, Key Largo Florida
Hurricane Irama damage, Key Largo Florida
Hurricane Irma damage, Key Largo Florida
Most of the remaining intact RVs had seen better days, the park was more like a shanty town than as RV resort.
The noise from the reconstruction crews and machinery, although the least of our concerns, was a constant reminder of the damage caused by Hurricane Irma.
The good part of all this is the daytime temperatures reached the mid eights a perfect temperature for swimming and sitting around the pool and the heat kept the buggers at bay.
Great pool time Key Largo Florida
Great pool time Key Largo Florida
The first evening, as the four of us sat ranting about the pests and the destruction with a glass of the juice, we decided to approach the park office about moving to vacant and somewhat intact lots on the water……. of course pay the extra.
We thought maybe the bugs would not be as plentiful closer to the water but mainly near the water we could focus on the ocean and close our minds to the disaster around us.
If you would like to read about our tour from the beginning click this link.

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Gord B.

One thought on “Heading to the Florida Keys – Our North American RV Tour”

  1. Oh my I am sorry your Keys visit was so expensive and views of so much trash. Can’t believe the manager told you no damage to be seen. But the temperature was as expected at least.
    We are on our way home from a trip to Ontario in search if cooler weather. We found it and had to wear coats in Eugenia and it rained. But overall a great trip. Visited two of our friends we met through boondockers. One couple in Eugenia the other in Goderich. Hope to make it your way someday but the clock is ticking.
    I guess you winter in Arizona now.
    Safe travels
    Judy

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