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Everglades City Flotilla

Discussion and Planning for Folbot Flamingo Flotilla in 2006

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Everglades City Flotilla

Postby Paul MacCartney » Mon Nov 14, 2005 12:38 pm

Everglades City Flotilla

Hello,

I’m Paul MacCartney - Ohio resident; everglades enthusiast. I’ve traveled in the NW everglades area for the last several years. Given that we can’t do Flamingo this year, I happily volunteered to spearhead a NW everglades excursion. I’m renting a house in Everglades City for a couple of weeks including the dates of the flotilla. The house is in southeast Everglades City (EC) near the Oyster House Restaurant. Please feel free to view this house as Flotilla Central. You know: mi casa es su casa.

House picture:
http://www.gladeshaven.com/photo_galler ... tals_2.jpg

Accommodations

My recommendations are as follows (links below):

Tents:
Trail Lakes Campground
Collier Seminole State Park

RVs:
Trail Lakes Campground
Glades Haven
Outdoor Resorts at Chokoloskee Island

Hotels / cabins:
Ivey House
Glades Haven

Given that Glades Haven allows RVs and cabin dwellers that might be a good choice. Also, since Trail Lakes accommodates tents and RVs, that would also be good. Unfortunately, no place accepts all three (to my knowledge).

Here’s some more detail…
Tenters
There isn’t much in the way of tenting in Everglades City. There are a few tent options on 41 ranging from Collier Seminole SP to Trail Lakes. The good news is these campgrounds are fairly close to the put-ins for the Turner River, Halfway Creek, and East River mangrove trails. The bad news is, they are all 10-20 minutes from Everglades City. For the really adventurous, I know of a few primitive campsites that are great. But that will put you at least 30 minutes from EC. I’d stay there myself if I weren’t serving as Flotilla Central. Let me know if you’re into primitive camping and I’ll hook you up.

Some camping links:
http://www.floridastateparks.org/collie ... efault.cfm

Trail Lakes Campground - 8 miles from Everglades City. It has a bath house with hot showers. The group rates for tent campers is $7 per night and $18 for RVs. It has four lakes for fishing, no swimming. They have 100 or so RV sites and unlimited tent sites. The gentleman I talked to said they’ve never been fully booked in his 10 years there.

RVers and Hotel people
There are several options for RVers and hotel folks These links will give you an overview:
http://www.florida-everglades.com/chamber/accomm.htm
http://www.evergladesislands.com/
http://www.evergladeschamber.com/chambermembers.htm (Outdoor Resorts and Glades Haven have RV accommodations)

If you’d like more options, just google “Everglades City” accommodations. The rates are about the same as Flamingo, if memory serves me correctly. As I mentioned, I’ll be staying at the Glades Haven. http://www.gladeshaven.com/index.php


Nightly Activities
Movies
I’m going to bring my movie projector and cinema screen. I plan to show the following movies:

“Distant Drums” – 1950s movie staring Gary Cooper. It’s a Hollywood version of the Seminole Wars. It’s not Citizen Kane, but at least you’re not sitting in a doctor’s office waiting-room enduring a Brittany Spears video.

“Beneath the 12 Mile Reef” – another 1950s movie. This is one of Robert Wagner’s earliest films. It’s about the Conch / Tarpon Springs sponge wars. It’s also a redo of Romeo and Juliet. I bet you never thought those two things would come together in a movie. Best part of the movie is that it’s set in the western Everglades / Florida Bay area.

“Wind Across the Everglades” – now this really is a treat. You can’t buy this movie. You also can’t record it because no broadcasters play it these days. It stars Christopher Plummer and Burl Ives. What a great flick. It’s the story of a naturalist trying to save the birds of the Everglades and a rouge plume hunter trying to make a living by pillaging the birds. Who do you think plays who – rouge and naturalist - Plummer and Ives?

“Adaptation” – This movie is existential, transcendental, differential, and a few other ‘entials. All of which I don’t really get. More importantly, it’s shot in and around Everglades City and the Fakahatchee Swamp. The object of the movie is the extremely rare Ghost Orchid. I thought we’d watch the movie one night, then head out to the Fakahatchee Swamp the next day. Last February, I was with a local photographer and biologist when they discovered 14 ghost orchids in a previously unknown slough in the Fakahatchee. The plants really aren’t much to look at this time of year, since they’re not in bloom. But it’s fun to trek in and out. The Fakahatchee Swamp is not for the faint of heart. I’ve only gone in solo once. I swore I wouldn’t do that again.


Day Paddle Routes
Jeff Ripple has a good book covering the day paddle routes in the area, which I’ll bring with me. You can peruse and choose your routes throughout the flotilla. I’ll cover a few here to give you an idea.

Halfway Creek
This is a good trip for those staying in Everglades City. There are several options and loops. It’s accessible from EC and US 41.

Turner River
Turner River is southeast of Halfway Creek and easily accessible from Chokoloskee and US 41. It can also serve as the starting point for an overnight route including Sunday Bay or Lopez.

East River
This route has a nice combination of mangrove tunnels and wide open lakes. I’ve done this one at night – which is a lot of fun. US 41 is the access point for the East River.

Fakahatchee River
This is supposedly some of the toughest paddling in the Everglades. I haven’t done this paddle yet, but maybe this is the year.

Sandfly Island
If Wilma’s damage to the other routes proves to be too daunting, the Sandfly route(s) will be a refuge. This is a nice round-trip that will leave you plenty of time to hike on Sandfly Island. If you’re wondering – yes, the island is well named.

Other gulf paddles
The mangrove islands to the southwest of Everglades City give the area it’s name – Ten Thousand Islands. You could paddle for days. Don’t go alone, and bring a couple of GPSs with good batteries. You can get lost in this area in a matter of minutes. Also, watch very carefully for oyster shoals. This is a local hazard not seen in the flamingo area. The shoals are said to be capable of cutting through hard shell boats.

Overnight Options
There are several itineraries that are well documented in Johnny Molloy’s book, so I won’t reiterate that here. I talked to the park service this morning and they said they hope to know more about the back country camps sites in a week or two. I’m guessing there will be at least some sites available if not all. In addition to the chickee camping options, there are some nice sunset-facing beach camping opportunities at Rabbit, Tiger, and Pavilion Keys.

Non-folbot things to do
I’ve got a stack of books covering things to see and do in the area. They cover hiking, biking, museums, and much more. I’ll bring them all and you can pick your itineraries. I’ve been going to the area for years and there’s still a lot that I haven’t covered yet.

The Seafood Festival
Once a year, Everglades City turns into a mad-house. This year it’s Feb 4, 5, and 6. That could put a wrinkle in our plans or provide a great opportunity – depending on how you look at it. To get a feel for the Festival, gander at this:
http://www.evergladesseafoodfestival.com/

and

http://72.14.203.104/search?q=cache:zgk ... =firefox-a

Here’s the wrinkle version: during the festival, the traffic creates grid-lock. Getting into the city can take hours. My advice is to either be in the city for the festival or stay out. But don’t plan on going back and forth unless sitting in a car is your idea of fun. Everglades City has a population of 600. They say that 50,000 attend the seafood festival each year.

Here’s the opportunity version: those of us who will be staying in EC or Chokoloskee will be there before the crowds descend. In fact, if some of you campers want to, you can set up camp at the house I’m staying at during the festival. I don’t think I could accommodate 20 people, but half that might be possible. Let me know if you’re interested. Plan on bringing a folding chair or two so you can eat seafood and watch the world go by.

Summary
What’s in store for us:
Good paddling, fishing, birding
Plenty of nearby parks and swamps to visit
Everglades movies
A museum or two and other local attractions
One of the best seafood festivals in south Florida


Disclaimer: this info is based on my experience and research. I assume there are flaws and some things that are probably out of date – especially in light of Wilma. If you have more current / correct information or opinions, please set the record straight for the group. I won’t take offense.
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Postby BOBK » Mon Nov 14, 2005 1:16 pm

Great post Paul. Thanks for picking up the pieces from the broken Flamingo.
Wilma is a bad girl.
Thanks,
Bob K
Last edited by BOBK on Wed Nov 16, 2005 11:59 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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RV Camping for Everglades Flotilla

Postby Adirondick » Tue Nov 15, 2005 12:00 pm

Glades Haven does not rent RV sites any more.

Outdoor Resorts at Chokoloskee Is. does have sites, but, ouch, the rates are $69, $79, and $89 per night, no weekly discount.

Chokoloskee Is. Park's phone was reported out by the desk at Glades Haven, but try 239-695-2414. It rang busy twice for me today (11/15). This park has a 27' limit on RV length.

Trail Lakes CG has no phone on its web site, but there is an email feature. If they send me a phone number I will post it here. The photos posted on their site are not flattering. It looks like a good old boy fishing place, frankly not very appealing. The "staff" photo shows beer bellies, shaved heads, and a python wrapped around the central person's shoulders. Nice place for staking out our Yorkie, I should think. Oh, yes, and check out the panther problem information on their forum page.

We have visited Collier-Seminole, and it looks really nice for tenting, smaller RV's, and nice for paddling. I have no reservations about Collier-Seminole State Park, but cannot stay there because the maneuvering room and sites are too small for our fifth wheel.

I have to say that at this point it looks like Peg and I may be backing off from this year's flotilla in the 'Glades, though this is not definite. I'll be doing some more research into the area, and perhaps we can find a place that is near enough to Flotilla Central that we could join in for a day trip. We do look forward to paddling with everyone at the Rideau next summer, and paddling with DickC in the Adirondacks. We look forward enthusiastically to a Flamingo Flotilla in 2007, "Wilma" willing.

Please note that Peg and I will be at Fort Myers for a two weekHabitat for Humanity build starting March 5, and possibly near Fort Myers before that, and would be happy to get together for some day paddling with other kayakers. We head north on the 19th of March, and that trip includes a couple of nights at Wekiwa Springs SP, where we hope to get our Coopers wet again.
Boreal Designs and Swift hardshells
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Postby Paul MacCartney » Tue Nov 15, 2005 1:02 pm

Sorry about leaving out the Trail Lakes CG phone number. It's 239-695-2275. The guy I talked to was very helpful. But I agree with you about their website. It does make the place look a bit... well... colorful.
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Postby annd » Wed Nov 16, 2005 8:44 pm

This is exciting! Movies AND swamps! I'm definitely planning to be there! Zillions of thanks to Paul for volunteering to make a flotilla happen for us!

I checked the availability of campsites at Collier-Seminole via the ReserveAmerica website, and it looks like there are only 17 sites available for the date range 1/27-2/6. I'm kind of leaning toward the Trail Lakes Campground anyway -- $7.00 vs. $18.00.... Where is everybody else thinking of staying?
...annd
GIIs Gilbert, Mudlark and Barney
and hardshells Mathilda and Cliffy-Bob
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Postby BOBK » Wed Nov 16, 2005 11:57 pm

QUESTIONS FOR PAUL AND FOR ANN

Ann- I could not find a web site or phone for Trail Lakes -Do you have information

Paul- I am into primitive camping and would like any info you have.
kupri@bellsouth.net

Thanks,
'Bob K
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Postby Sailboy » Thu Nov 17, 2005 10:59 am

I must be missing something here.
Everglades City gives you great access to the 10,000 islands area of the Everglades - my pick for the best of the Everglades. The worst part being, well, Eveglades City / Chokoloski. For the price of a NPS permit ($10) and a 5 mile paddle / sail through mostly protected water you can have your pick of the gulf wilderness and your own deserted island. Can't think of a better place to dust off your navigating and kayak camping skills.

Just saying...
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Flamingo Flotilla 2006

Postby QAJAAT » Thu Nov 17, 2005 11:18 am

I was leaning toward the Trial Lakes Campground, but my own island sounds like one heck of a deal.

Additional interesting reading/viewing about this area includes: "Lost Man's River" with Peter Matthiessen, a video (in my library 917.5959); The novels: "Killing Mr. Watson" ISBN 0-394-55400-0, and "Lost Man's River" ISBN 0-679-40377-9. both by Peter Matthiessen about early white settlement in Southwest Florida.
Dan Clark
Indianapolis, IN
Cooper, Yukon, Kodiak, SOF Baidarka, VCP Pintail, Klepper Aerius II Exp.
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Postby Paul MacCartney » Thu Nov 17, 2005 9:04 pm

I think Sailboy hit the nail on the head. The primitive camping I was thinking of is Bear Island. It's a fantastic and quiet place to stay, but I checked my maps and it's the better part of an hour to and from Everglades City.
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Postby Guest » Thu Nov 17, 2005 10:31 pm

BOBK wrote:Ann- I could not find a web site or phone for Trail Lakes -Do you have information


The web site is cryptically named :wink: www.traillakescampground.com, but it's less than informative, imho.

The phone number is:
239-695-2275

I called them this AM, spoke to David. He says they can accommodate RVs of any size, and pets are welcome. RV sites are $18 and tent sites are $14, except for the group area, where they are $7 -- but he only volunteered this last when I told him I'd heard about it.

They don't accept reservations, and February is their busiest time.

BUT, he would accept a reservation for his "Festival Area", which is actually the owner's front yard, right next to the bandstand. We could rent the entire area as our group site. We could even have RVs there, and he would arrange electrical hookups for them. We'd have to commit to this fairly quickly, I'd imagine, if we want him to block out his Festival Area for a 10-day period.
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Postby Guest » Thu Nov 17, 2005 10:33 pm

Dang. Did it again. I only look like Guest. I'm really annd.
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Postby cliffy » Fri Nov 18, 2005 4:03 pm

keep the info coming... ... the info is valuable. ......
and no decision on this up coming year's gather has been made here......
time.. and time off... is always a key .
thanks to Paul for the work.....!!!
Cliffy
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Postby QAJAAT » Fri Nov 18, 2005 5:52 pm

At $7 per night, the Festival area would work for me!
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Postby annd » Mon Nov 21, 2005 7:57 pm

Hi, gang --

Paul sent out an e-mail to the Official Mailing List today to which he requests a reply. He had to zoom out of town without having a chance to post it here, so I thought I'd do that for him, in case there are potential Everglades City Flotillians who frequent the Forum but are not on the List. (If you want to be added to the mailing list, please contact Paul at -- pmaccartney@mindleaders.com.)

Here is Paul's e-mail:

Hello,

Ann and I have been working on logistics for the flotilla. We have some information and we need your feedback (votes) on a few items.

Camping Arrangements
It seems the best group camping option is Trail Lakes Campground. We can reserve the "Festival Area" which has several advantages:

- we'd all be in the same area, and we'd be the only ones in that area
- we'd be camping on grass
- it can accommodate 25 or so tents and a few RVs, with electricity
- it has a roofed, screened-in area with tables that can accommodate 30 people, for meals and other gatherings
- it only costs $7 per night for each tent or RV (what a deal for the RVs!)
- the minimum # of parties to reserve the area is 5, which we will surely clear

Given that this looks like the best option we'd like to get a feel for the number of people who are at least 50% confident that they'll come.

Dates
If most people stay at the Trail Lakes campground, it raises another issue. As I mentioned, the Seafood Festival is the final weekend of the flotilla. That will make getting from the campground to paddling put-ins that weekend very difficult at best. One possibility is to move the flotilla forward or backward so we miss the festival. We'd also like your feedback on that topic.

Action Items (this is starting to feel like work, isn't it?)
Please respond to each of the following questions by 11/28.

Are you at least 50% confident that you'll come to the Everglades City Flotilla 2006?
If you do, are you interested in staying at Trail Lakes Campground?
Would you like to:
a) leave the flotilla dates where they are (1/28 - 2/5) and enjoy / endure the Seafood Festival
b) move it back to 2/11 - 2/19
c) move it forward to 1/21 - 1/29

Thanks and I look forward to hearing from you.



from the Red Bluff library.....
...annd
GIIs Gilbert, Mudlark and Barney
and hardshells Mathilda and Cliffy-Bob
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Postby annd » Mon Nov 28, 2005 3:36 am

For folks looking for a backcountry camping experience in the 'Glades, here's the latest news, from http://www.nps.gov/ever/index.htm.

"Backcountry camping is now permitted at designated sites north of Broad River. Permits are required. All areas south of Broad River remain closed to overnight stays and camping until further notice. Everglades City is open and the park north of Broad River is open to overnight camping."

Looks good for Everglades City, bad for Flamingo -- north means towards EC; south is towards Flamingo.


On the road again, in Santa Nella, CA, headed east....
...annd
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