Thursday, December 19th, 2019 continued…
For walking down a highway with little to look at aside from construction work and airboat tour agencies, it was fairly eventful. We were offered a ride by two foreign, female tourists. Which we appreciated, but declined. Then we stopped to chat with some of the construction workers.
“How many miles you going?”
Several of them had seen us earlier in the morning many miles back. They were very impressed with the amount of ground we had covered, and even more so with our end goal, Key West.
We had to run across many short bridges with no shoulders in order to dodge oncoming traffic, and we would have a very long bridge ahead of us. Fortunately the long one would provide us with a wide shoulder. The levy was across the canal to the left, and the old road ran parallel below us. To the right, there were plenty of birds to watch that were hiding in the tall grasses. The wind was intense, so I was happy to stop at Everglades Safari Park to take a break.
We had covered some serious ground! As we planned our next steps, we charged our headlamps and ate some of the food from our packs. Walking into the night was expected, and so we wanted to be certain that we had light to guide us to a safe spot to sleep.
We received weird looks as people came and went. Many of them had gone on airboat rides, or were about to. It began to rain and I felt bad for some of them. These people were here on their big vacation, some of them traveling from abroad, and their tour was getting rained on. We were used to getting rained on at this point, and expected nothing less from Mother Nature.
We were under the impression that the staff was about to kick us out. We looked homeless and we weren’t going on any boat rides. So once the rain slowed down and our headlamps were fully charged, we continued our hike.
It was cold, wet, and very windy. Not the most pleasant conditions, but once I got moving, I was feeling warm again. We paid the next airboat tour company a visit shortly after for a bathroom break and to see if they had any sturdier ponchos. The ones we got long ago were wearing thin.
Frisbee stopped a tourist as he was throwing away his poncho, and asked if any of his crew were willing to donate another one for me. The guy’s friend was hesitant, he wanted to keep his, but when he heard about where we had been and where we were going, he handed it over.
These ponchos were sturdier, but I was getting irritable. I was feeling the effects of sleep deprivation, and the new poncho kept hiking up my back. Having a wet bottom due to your butt not being covered by something waterproof was not ideal. We stopped yet again at the next place, Coopertown Air Boat Tours, to readjust.
While we were rearranging our rain gear and packs, a guy sitting in a nearby car asked us about our hike. We told him where we were heading and where we came from.
“Can I get you anything? Coffee? Or a bottle of water?”
His name was Antonio and he happened to be the manager of the place. We decided to take him up on his offer. We warned him about our odor, and he could clearly see we were drenched, but he and the rest of the staff were very welcoming. It was nice to have a hot drink and to dry off for a minute.
Antonio has managed the company for the past two years, but he’s been in the industry for about 20! Antonio and his staff asked us several questions about our gear, how we got water, our supplies, and about our experiences. A guy who worked there informed us about a local swamp grass (I wish I took note of its name), that has a root with enough fresh water to help you survive in an emergency. We talked about the taste of swamp water, and they told us that their business was up and running, rain or shine. They only refused air boat rides when the conditions weren’t safe, like during lightening storms. These guys knew misery like we did. They’ve spent days out in the cold, the heat, the rain and the wind.
It was closing time, so we got back to walking. Spending time with Antonio and his crew was just the morale boost we needed to push on to the next stop. We were getting closer and closer to Miami, and to our turn down south, and there was a gas station up ahead.
To be continued…
Jump Ahead to Road Walk to Key West: Chapter 4
Jump Back to Road Trip to Key West: Chapter 2
Start from The Beginning