Camping at Collier Seminole
Out on the far reaches of the Tamiami trail, past the Fakahatchee Strand, stands Collier Seminole State Park. This was one of the first camping trips in recent memory which filled up enough for the newsletter to declare it “SOLD OUT”. (Mike said “I didn’t even know Great Outdoors trips could be sold out.” They can.)
The campsite was pleasant, if a little crowded. I can never understand why a park with over 6,000 acres insists on putting all of the campsites in only one of them, with about a foot and a half between tents. We had polite neighbors who tried not to notice us.
The Everglades walks in the area are great. Edwin led us to a trail in Fakahatchee strand called “Big Cypress Bend.” This is right off of Route 41, at a Seminole village, and is an easy access, boardwalk trail of about a mile into Fakahatchee strand. Look for it on the map if you’re traveling that way. The only people who seem to know about it are Edwin’s friends and German tourists. There are huge cypress trees and Strangler Figs like nowhere else. It winds up at an alligator pond where you can watch dozens of the beasts.
When we go here again, we may not bother to cook food. There are some really interesting places to eat. We tried the Oyster House in Florida City, per Ron’s suggestion, and also a barbecue place at the entrance to the park, both of which were excellent. The Mexican restaurant near the entrance to the park is also one of the best in the state.
The highlight of the trip was the ranger talk. Unlike the big screen, multi-media events at the National Parks, (remember Ranger Clay and the tree snails?) the state park presentations are decidedly homey. We knew as soon as we saw the ranger with the guitar we knew this was going to be casual.
The number which brought the house down was the Hul-pa-te-chobee (Seminole for alligator) Song. It went something like “Grandpa always told me when I was out in my boat not to go near the Hul-pa-te-chobee. But grandpa didn’t tell my dog to watch out when swimming in the river for the Hul-pa-te-chobee. So one day when I was out with my dog in my boat, he jumped in the water near something that looked like a Hul-pa-te-chobee. I sure miss my dog, since he’s now been eaten up by the goddam Hul-pa-te-chobee.” (Emphasis added.)