March 26, 2009

Ortona Locks & on to Flamingo

In our travels, we are always looking for unique places to camp for a few days at a bargain price. We've learned through experience that the Corps of Engineers CGs are often some of the nicest, and always economical for what they offer. Ortona Locks is one of those interesting jewels of the Corps.

Located along the Okeechobee Waterway, stretching out from both directions, the waterway extends westward to the Gulf of Mexico using the Caloosahatchee River and eastward to the Atlantic Ocean, a tremendous timesaver for boaters crossing the State!

As we pull in, we are greeted by a pristinely clean grounds and stunningly tall palms.

Later in the day, Dave and Sam have fun watching a couple of sailboats cycle through the locks, pretty interesting process which takes about 30 minutes.

Once the boats are in and tied up to the walls, we enjoy a "waterfall" to our right as the "uphill" lock doors are opened.

Meanwhile I found numerous Eastern Meadowlarks on the site that appear to be tame, and pose for this nice pix.

The following day, we take this opportunity to try the 2hp Honda outboard on a long straight run up & down the waterway to determine fuel milage before attempting the Everglades Waterway.

Sam is really pleased to calculate roughly 40mpg! Quite efficient for moving our big canoe along at almost 6mph.

After a nice stay, we move southward. If you're in this area, be sure to try the Ortona.

After leaving Ortona Locks, we head to Flamingo. Just the name itself brings to mind a couple of different things. Either you're thinking of that gorgeous, leggy, pink bird that is seen mostly in zoos or you're thinking of those plastic ornaments that are sometimes seen on front lawns. You'd be surprised to find out that the real Flamingo is nowhere near that tacky 0r a place that you'd likely see the real thing.

We never saw a single Flamingo while we were in Flamingo. The most common bird we saw was the Black Vulture.

I learned a few things about vultures. One thing is that this species is very intelligent. We watched a few of these clever feathered creatures try to remove a bag of bread that our neighbors left in the barbecue pit. Evidently it was left there so that it wouldn't be shredded to pieces.

The next thing I learned was that vultures don't eat just dead bodies of creatures. These guys looked like they were trying to figure out how to get the charcoal out of the bag.

A face only a mother could love...

We did see a few other birds while we camped in this area. Migrating shorebirds lined the beaches and the mangrove ponds. Osprey were everywhere by the handfuls.

The oak trees and the moss survive after several hurricanes even though several of the buildings in the area had not.

Although there were not large amounts of flowers blooming, we did find patches of color in a few places.

It never failed - every evening was a spectacular sunset.