On entering Florida I stopped at a gas station to fill up the car and empty out me. I knew I had entered red neck territory when I saw the confederate flag on a front license plate together with the saying “It ain’t over”. A quick glance at one of the guys confirmed I was being stared at. Was it my tan he didn’t like? I decided not to stick around to find out.
Part of my plan, was to drive the entirety of the A1A (Beach Front Avenue!). The north end starts in Fernandina Beach, FL, aka Isle of Eight Flags due to it changing nations that many times. I spent Memorial Day high on three coffees, cruising down the bottom half of the A1A past palm trees and American flags at half-mast. I missed Miami Beach due to an accident and heavy traffic, but I did reminisce about my last trip there while bypassing it, Sasha and I walking through the water, jeans half soaked and sharing the weight of a suitcase between us. Those were the days, eh Sash? I made it to the Florida Keys the next day and hung out for a rollerblade down part of the Seven Mile Bridge, an old bridge that runs parallel to Highway 1 through the turquoise waters, that they keep around as a tourist attraction. By the end of the drive I saw enough beach to tan the world. What a privilege to be able to stop on the side of the road and jump into the ocean at your leisure.
The Everglades, alligator heaven, has a trail called the Anhinga. It’s a raised boardwalk through a small part of the park where you can see gators in their natural habitat. In addition, there are hundreds of these amazing three-inch long grasshoppers along the trail, some black, some bright yellow, some red.
My final stop in Florida was at Manatee Springs State Park. Six dollars bought me a swim in a crystal blue spring, a hike through a weird little forest with elbow-like stumps coming out of the ground and day use of the campground facilities where I showered with four lime green baby frogs and one giant spider. Manatees can be seen here in the winter during their migration upriver.
See ya Florida, off to Louisiana!