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Wrapping Up All the Everglades’ Rivers Via the Collier Seminole State Park

It took five trips to the Everglades to accomplish all the many wild, rural, fascinating rivers it holds. After having chartered Captain Bruce in our March trip, we ran out of time to hit the northern rivers inside the 10,000 Islands. So, we planned another quick trip for the first weekend in May. No Derby parties for us nor a first mate, as our son was away with his father for the weekend.

Shout out to Bass Pro in Port St. Lucie for getting our Bass Buggy Sun Tracker pontoon boat ready to roam with a new steering cable. Conveniently, we arranged to pick it up while in route to the SW portion of the Everglades for our final visit for the river roaming mission. Of course, not having the boat to put stuff onto during transit made packing a bit puzzling. Still, we made it work and we felt excited for an adult only adventure that required no highways or hassle. Once our boat trailer was set, we headed south and took the 714 much of the way west, talk about beautiful backroads! I am convinced that Martin County has the most amount of Live Oak canopied roads both east and west of the highways, simply stunning!

Not being in a hurry allowed us to savor the sights during the drive. We finally arrived at Collier Seminole State Park, our second time in 15 months, well past when the ranger station closed. However, having been before, we knew where to park the boat. It was easy to setup camp with our new camper, though we realized that not having our pop-up tent for shade and shelter was a big no-no for future adventures. Regardless, we enjoyed a quick stroll before getting the coals going to smoke chicken thighs for sandwiches.

It has been said that the mosquitos (all many hundreds of kinds of them) are worse from April to October in this part of Florida, it is a TRUE statement friends! Our lucky spot #28, backed up to the preserve and we were quick to getting the citronella filled Tiki torches and fans going. Even with long sleeved shirts and pants, we were bit quite a bit. Regardless, it was not totally intolerable, and we had fun listening to music and playing Phase 10.

Next morning, we finalized our campsite registration. Then, we were off to the county boat ramp inside the Port of the Island Marina. Just five minutes east on the Tamiami Trail, lots of big yachts greeted us and caused a moment of anxiety for mom who is seldom the first mate in our adventures. Yet, it all worked out well and dad managed to squeeze into a parking spot. As I waited for him and our dog, Seger, I saw dozens of slot snook; too bad it was a no fishing zone.

As we headed down the canal towards the Paradise Coast’s waters, it seemed as if each home had a boat or two; fishing is a way of life here.  One we started seeing various spoil islands, we had finally entered the Faka-Union River #114.  A shell covered beach caught our eye, we stopped there and threw the stick a few times in the shallow, clear water so our pooch could frolic. The island had a giant pool in the middle of it, what a site to see!

Reading about the Daniels family had us talking about how challenging it must have been for the pioneer settlers of the wild west Everglade waters. Interestingly, there was an abandoned island cemetery in the vicinity accessible only via boa; we did not visit.

 Headed south, we entered the Fakahatchee Strand Preserve State Park and explored our 115th river, the East River/10,000 Islands. Passed some fellow boaters on the Fakahatchee River #116; they were using the “enclosed portable boat bathroom” onboard their pontoon; it seems much easier to just tinkle off the back ladder…yet that is just me.

Our second attempt at a soft beach for our dog worked and we all got off to explore and run around. It got rough when it was time to go, Seger thought he needed to save dad as he was pulling the anchor. As a result of trying to get the dog back on the boat, dad’s new wedding ring slipped off. It was a bummer, however, as we headed back towards the marina, we swayed northwest and managed to tap the Little Wood and Whitney Rivers for #117 and #118.  What a day of exploration and sun!  Worth the drive down the backroads, this part of the Everglades was truly exciting to explore. Happy river roaming!


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