Friday, December 21, 2012

Crossing FL On The Okeechobee Waterway, Relax Time At Franklin Lock

We left Ft. Myers on Wednesday, beginning our eastbound run across FL on the Okeechobee Waterway (OWW).  The OWW begins at Port St. Lucie/Stuart on the Atlantic side, crosses Lake Okeechobee partway across, and ends at the mouth of the Caloosahatchee River down by Sanibel, a total of 149 miles.  We've already covered the lower 15 miles on the trip to Ft. Myers from Cabbage Key on Monday and really pushed ourselves on this next leg - 14 miles to Franklin Lock RV Park and Marina!  When you approach I-75, there's a RR bridge, then a long stretch of NO WAKE zone for manatees.   

As you can see, it's another gorgeous day and we really don't mind the slow pace.  We have been told the lengthy stretch through here for the manatees is due to a power plant ahead on the right which releases warm water into the river and the manatees love that.  One negative though - the water is dark again for this stretch so we'll have another moustache by the time we get to Port St. Lucie.

We have decided to take some serious time off for at least 3 days to rest, relax, and just enjoy doing nothing.  Well not exactly nothing, but slow down the travel pace a little, get some preventive maintenance done on the boat, and chill (literally, temps are forecast in the high 30s and low 40s) while waiting out another front and high winds headed this way.  Our original plan was to take the delay at LaBelle for 3 days but the docking situation there is not the best so Franklin Lock RV Park and Marina looked like it had some serious potential. On the way up to the lock, the scenery is beautiful with some subdivisions and a couple of trailer parks, but mostly homes on large plots of land.  Here's the lock as we approached it.  The lock is on the right side and the other boat you see there is in trouble because he completely ignored the no wake zone in the approach/holding area. 

I'm fascinated by the boating practices of so many boaters - either they are ignorant of boating rules/regulations and common courtesies or they simply don't care.  This guy blew past us and right up to the lock entrance, no radio, and I guess he expected the lockmaster to open the gate immediately for him so he had no delay.  Well, there was a sailboat already in the lock eastbound, a large powerboat waiting after the sailboat on the east side, and then it would be our turn.  It appeared that the lockmaster was still "chewing" on him when we entered the lock.

Anyhow, we were raised only a couple of feet in the lock and only had a few hundred feet afterward to get to the RV Park.  What a sweet little stop!  The park only has about 30 RV spots and only 8 slips for boats.    All the RV spots were full and 6 of the 8 slips were occupied.  It's very protected, clean, quiet, and there's absolutely nothing to do - just what we were looking for.  And the price was right also, only $24/night.  If we were 62, it would have only been $12.50 (your tax dollars at work, sort of like the lock we went through).  

There are also 2 sets of restrooms/showers/laundry, a boat ramp, and did I mention absolutely nothing to do?  However, it is clear that everyone here seems to be quite adept at doing that and probably has a lot of experience in that area.  

With absolutely nothing to do, we have taken a few strolls.  I think I will never tire of seeing the FL landscape.  

There's just a short stretch of road to walk before you get to a narrow and busy country road.  On the right, they are raising horses, on the left bulls.

"Large" bulls I might add, if you know what I mean!

Caught a friendly squirrel on the way back that literally appeared to turn and pose for me.

An old Buick was traveling with these folks.

There's a rookery at one end of the park, not sure what species of bird.

Don't you think this looks like an alligator?  Adam and Jen, show this to the grandkids and see what they think.

It never moved but another one just like it did with a little swirl in the water behind it, so we're claiming to have seen our first alligator of the trip.

As we often do, we'll close with the sunset and Christmas tree of the day.

OK, the tree is a little puny compared to the sunset but it's the only one we could find in the park!  Hey, it's the spirit that counts.

The front passed through last night, we have 20-30 MPH wind today, so we may leave tomorrow if it all settles back down by then.  Goodness, I just noticed the time - it's noon already.  Doing nothing takes a lot of time.

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