Aug 3, 2010
|2010, July 16 – August 03 (Lake Okeechobee: The Real Old Florida)
We made camp on Taylors Creek, just outside Lake Okeechobee at Zachary Taylor RV Resort. This area reminds me so much of the old Florida I grew up in: lots of open land, cattle ranches out number tourists and the wildlife is plentiful.
A trip around the lake reveals cattle, cane, citrus and corn are King. The fields of sugar cane go on as far as the eye can see…a true testament to perhaps why so many are overweight.
One of the stops around the lake was in the little town of Pahokee…I wanted to go there just so I could do the Hokey Pokey on Lake Okeechobee in the little town of Pahokee…and take a picture of the whole silly thing to post on Facebook :^)
We struck up a fast friendship with several people. Tom & Darleen Kelly were weekending from Lake Placid; we met them at the pool, had dinner with them and then visited them a couple weeks later at their home. They introduced us to the caladium fields and the world famous murals that grace the old downtown.
Our other new friends included Steve & Christina Clifford (she manages the RV park) and Chris Freed (he and his father own the park). They treated us to boat rides on both the Rim Canal and the Lake. We also made a two day trip with them over to the Peace River for kayaking and fossil hunting (we got lots of sharks teeth).
A couple days later, we enjoyed the National Day of the American Cowboy and their annual cattle drive through the downtown. What a hoot! This was also a good chance to photograph the murals in the town of Okeechobee as well. We’ve since noticed that a number of towns in Central and South Florida have murals on their buildings. It goes a long way towards making these towns considerably more attractive (and interesting).
We took a second kayak trip to Fisheating Creek with my niece Pamela Armstrong Poe and her husband Rick. She and I, along with her sister Beth, had camped on this river 39 years ago….it has been that long since I last saw Pam. The river is completely undeveloped….4 ½ hours and eight miles of nothing but beautiful wilderness. No houses, no other people and, best of all, not one single piece of trash. It was breathtaking. We saw lots of birds – including a barred owl that let me photograph it up close – several orchids and 14 alligators.
One of the big alligators jumped into the river right in front of my boat – I came around a narrow corner in the channel and startled him. Neither one of us saw the other and, clearly, neither one of us wanted to spend time in the same place. I waited for him to get away and then changed my shorts. He was almost as long as my boat…
Local restaurants we liked in the Okeechobee area include Maria’s Cuban Café on US Highway 441 just east of Okeechobee. She’s a delightful woman who followed her boys here from Miami. They’re cowboys and work the local ranches. Her food is wonderful (order the pork chop!). The best place in town for cat fish is Skipjacks (“Where it’s always Five O’Clock!”). They serve only locally caught cat fish (from Lake O) and call them Sharpies – yum! We also liked Cowboys BBQ and Steak Company where the ribs are delish and Happy Hour starts at noon.
Our extended stay at Lake O was a real surprise. We thought we would stay at the Lake for only a couple of days. We ended up spending almost a month on the river. The site was beautiful, shady, clean and secure but, more importantly, the wildlife was stunning and the sunsets were especially breathtaking. We would recommend Zachary Taylor RV Resort to everyone!