Thursday, December 19th, 2019
We woke up around 2 in the morning, not feeling too well rested, but rested enough to get this show on the road. We didn’t know how far we were going to go, but we were going to try to cover as much ground as possible. The closer to Key West, the better! After we packed up, we started our night “hike” along Route 41. It would be a long time until we reached the outskirts of Miami, and we weren’t sure what we were in for!
We walked with only our headlamps, the headlights from the occasional tractor trailer, and the glow from alligator eyes lighting up the night. We started counting the number of gators we spotted in the canal beside us, but we would quickly lose count. We had to dodge approaching traffic and try not to get too close to the canal when we took bathroom breaks. Things were pretty uneventful. You know you’re lacking stimulation when a sharp bend in the highway is the highlight of your morning.
After a while, we would see the palm roofs of Chickees as we occasionally passed by villages, most which were gated off from the highway. From what we could see, there were beautiful, colorful Christmas decorations glowing in the villages.
Then, it started to rain and traffic began to pick up. The sun was slowly rising, and so were the weekday commuters. We took a short break at a narrow pull off on a bridge to eat. The commuters must have though we were crazy, homeless people, and they would be half right! I guess you could say no one in their right mind would be walking from the middle of nowhere alongside the Florida Everglades all the way to Key West. But here we were!
For the most part, all we could see was the canal to our left, and the occasional residential property to the right. Now we were starting to see billboard advertisements, and we were thrilled! We were finally returning to civilization!
We crossed the canal bridge and saw several pit stops for tourists to go on air boat rides. It was currently raining, so very few people were going out on excursions. We waved to the air boat operators as we walked by. They waved back with puzzled looks on their faces. We also saw a dead Burmese python on the side of the road with its throat slit. As I mentioned before, they are an invasive species that have been significantly destroying the local ecosystem. I’m a lover of animals, but I completely side with their extermination.
To our right, we mainly passed by residential properties, and the administrative buildings for the Miccosukee Tribe. The majority of this walk would be passing through the reservation of the Miccosukee Tribe of Indians.
We took a break from the rain at the Miccosukee General Store to get some coffee. It was nice to dry off, and the lady running the place was very welcoming even though we probably smelled pretty bad. We got a few things to eat and watched the impeachment of President Trump on the news. There were some funny comments exchanged between people stopping by to grab coffee for their commute. We also saw the weather forecast on TV. There was plenty more rain ahead of us. Fantastic.
It was time to move on, the rain was only a drizzle now, which we were both grateful for. What I wasn’t grateful for was the mound of fire ants I accidentally, and unknowingly stepped on. I kept feeling a stinging pain in my shoe, which I tried to ignore, but had to tend to on the side of the road. Once I got rid of them, things were going smoothly again.
Aside from airboat rides, we would see the occasional shop or restaurant. Given that there wasn’t anywhere out of the vision of drivers to pee. I had to stop inside on of the shops. On my way out, we met two guys, Gonzo and Steve. They were traveling from Tampa for work, and had a lot of questions for us! They were very interested in our journey. Gonzo shared some adventure stories, and Steve shared some of his fry bread with us.
“Look at their legs!”
We told them it took many miles to get legs like these, and we had done a lot of them! From northern Florida, to Arizona, to Alabama and Georgia, to Vermont, back down to Alabama, and then back down even further to Florida again. We have been all over, and have hiked well over 2,000 miles this year!
They talked about how nice it was living out of a suitcase, watching the world at 80 miles per hour by car. They were even more intrigued by the thought of living out of a backpack, watching the world at 3 miles per hour like we were currently doing. Gonzo suggested we check out the Key Largo Fish House once we got to the Florida Keys.
“They have the best rice I’ve ever had there! I don’t know what they do to it, but it’s really good!”
All this talk of food was making me hungry, and I think Steve noticed! He offered us the rest of his fry bread. They wished us a safe journey, we wished them the same, then we went our separate ways. We started getting a move on, but we had to backtrack a little. There was a small Miccosukee Tribe flag in the dirt that was blown off its post by the wind. Frisbee returned it to the shop owner before we continued trucking down the highway.
To be continued…
Jump Ahead to Road Walk to Key West: Chapter 3
Jump Back to Road Trip to Key West: Chapter 1
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