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Drive 2010 - Day 8
My mother's cousin used to own an orange grove in Gardner (near Arcadia), and one of the things remaining on my list was to pay it a visit if I could.
Gardner is such a small town that it doesn't even have its own gas station, and in the Gulf Coast states, that's saying something. I did find one orange grove there, across the street from a small church. I was told that there used to be at least one more, but that it had been hit by some sort of blight. I figured that there was a good chance this was the grove I was looking for, and if not, the trees there were almost certainly at least related to the ones from the other grove.
After leaving Gardner, I headed south towards the Everglades. It was here that I finally(!) found a place to get some wide landscape photos from: on property now owned by the National Park Service, there is an old oil-operation tower that visitors are allowed to climb. This tower provides an excellent view. Be aware that it is a considerable distance from the parking area. The only practical means of reaching it are on the tour tram or by renting a bicycle. If you take the tram as I did, you will have 15-20 minutes in the vicinity of the tower and no more, so be quick at taking pictures. The tram tour was surprisingly good. I am not usually a fan of guided tours, but the guide (whose sounded exactly like Vin Diesel) was very knowledgeable.
I travelled to the southernmost part of Everglades National Park to camp for the night. Late summer is not a popular time of year for the Everglades. The park ranger who checked me in said "it will probably be just you and the mosquitos!", although this turned out not to be true - there were a handful of other people at the same campground. One of them claimed the entire area was full of snakes - in the bushes, by the lake, and so on. I'm not sure if this is actually true or if he just saw my out-of-state license plate and decided to play a joke. I've still never seen a snake (poisonous or otherwise) on any of my trips.
I also didn't have any trouble with mosquitos. I think the heat during the day was too much for them, and I made sure my tent was closed before it cooled down enough for them at night. "Cooled down" is relative - the Everglades in July at night are still extremely hot and humid.
In the evening, I tried to find a way to visit Dry Tortugas National Park the next day. I had heard about it just before leaving on my trip, and thought maybe I could squeeze it in. This turned out to be completely impossible - the two ferries which travel there from Key West leave extremely early in the morning, and the drive from the tip of Florida to Key West is extremely long (more on that in the article for day 9). I decided I would try to plan a future trip that would start in Key West (so that I could see Dry Tortugas), and then continue up the east coast.
Date: 12 July 2010
Starting Mileage: 33081
Ending Mileage: 33372
Distance Travelled (Day): 291 miles / 469 kilometers
Distance Travelled (Trip to Date): 3183 miles / 5134 kilometers
Fuel Purchased (Day): 12.509 gallons / 47.352 liters
Fuel Purchased (Trip to Date): 108.581 gallons / 411.024 liters
Average Fuel Economy (Day): 23.3 miles per gallon / 10.1 liters per 100 kilometers / 9.9 kilometers per liter
Average Fuel Economy (Trip to Date): 29.3 miles per gallon / 8.0 liters per 100 kilometers / 12.5 kilometers per liter