The Ultimate Road Trip: THE SILVER SNAIL : A solo woman's full-time RV adventure
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Miami, Florida

This log entry is not actually about the city of Miami, as my only real experience with that was driving to the airport to pickup a friend. We only had a few days here, so we used it to explore the Everglades.

The Florida Turnpike is a HUGE pain in the neck. Its toll system was apparently designed by a monkey and has no logic to it. There's a toll every few miles and the method of collection is always different. Some of the tolls are secretly collected by taking a picture of your license plate and mailing you a bill. My bill ended up charging me for 4 axles instead of 3 and did not credit me for one of the tolls that I had already paid for. Yes, there is a way around the madness and confusion - avoid the turnpike. Take the scenic backroads. You'll probably have a lot more fun. There's also apparently a SunPass which you can get at most gas stations for a fee. Might be a good idea if you plan to be driving the turnpike a lot here.

During prohibition, Al Capone had a speakeasy and gambling joint on the Loop Road. It's easy to see how things can fall under the radar here when you take a drive on this backcountry road off the Tamiami Trail. Alligators and jaguars - and more recently pythons - are very much at home in these backyards. We couldn't drive the entire dirt road because it was blocked for construction, so we didn't see any jaguars. But we DID watch an alligator cross the road, which got Harley very excited - his very first alligator sighting.

Loop Road alligator
Happens all the time around here.

Loop Road bar
Backyard bar. Donate $3, get a Corona.

...but feel free to get nekkid and take a nice bath.

Southwest, toward the Gulf coast, Flamingo is a center of operations for the national park. Flamingo used to be a drug-running town, populated by renegades and plume hunters. Now it's a parking lot. It's very well developed, with wide paved roads, parking lots, visitor center, marina, and cafe. We took a boat tour that took us down the canal and into the depths of the Everglades interior waterways. It was worth the trip, but not the jungle experience I was expecting. I was hoping for dense soggy jungle dripping with snakes and crawling with crocodiles (crocodiles AND alligators are here), populated with shadowy scarred, one-armed natives wearing special webbed frog shoes for slogging in the backcountry. Nope. Most of the tour was spent on the man-made canal connecting the gulf town of Flamingo to the interior waters. Nothing really exciting. But the tour guide made up for it by being hilariously entertaining and knowledgeable.

I'm sorry I wasn't around to experience the Flamingo of old, so here's a nod to what must have been a very interesting place and time: Renegade Rumrunner.

Flamingo FLorida
View from the cafe

Flamingo FLorida

everglades crocodile
Croc, not gator

Thieves at the campsite


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All images and words © Sharon Pieniak
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