In addition to our visit to Clyde Butcher’s Gallery and swamp walk we took some time to check out other fun places along the way. When traveling by car anywhere always leave time in your plan to stop and see the fun things you do not plan to run across – it will make your trip more exciting!
Driving south through Florida there are many places to stop and see. Before we went over to Big Cypress we headed into Everglades City and Immokalee. We were hoping to visit Ted Smallwoods Store which has been open since 1906, but the road was closed to get to the property so we went back up the road to see what else we could find.
We chose to check out the Old Laundry Building. Run on donations only inside you will find art from the local children, artifacts from the indians that once lived in the area, and old still, lots of historical photos and a small theater. For me the most interesting part was the old washing machines.
I can’t imagine women toiling over those huge machines in the heat of the day with no AC and the bugs must have been horrible. Later in the day I met Maureen Sullivan Hartung author of HIDDEN HISTORY OF EVERGLADES CITY told me that a local fella, Totch Brown, said the girls from the laundry were called “swamp angels” and most lived in nothing but a lean-to not far from the building.
We ventured out again and drove past Fakahatchee Strand Preserve State Park, Everglades National Park and finally decided to stop at the Big Cypress Swamp Welcome Center. If you have kids they will love this place. There are so many tracks to follow and info on local critters. The gift shop is full of information, maps, educational displays and a wonderful staff!
Our next stop was the Ochopee Post Office. Considered to be the smallest post office in the US this building used to be an irrigation pump shed was pressed into service following a fire in 1953 that also destroyed the general store. Bring your postcards and have them ready to send out – stamp collectors the world over request the famed Ochopee post mark!
As you drive the roads though the Everglades you will see swamp buggies on trailers, panther crossing signs, high fence protecting the wildlife from vehicles and many speed limit signs. What was a surprise to me was for the first time seeing that night speed limits drop as much as 15 mph! This place must really come alive after dark. There were many visitor centers and information stops but I have to say my favorite was the “Skunk Ape Research Headquarters”. Not much more than a shed with a large variety of critters out back and a Larger than life panther out front. You will not find this place clean or well lit but if you are lucky you will run into Dave Shealy, he took one of the only photos of the “Skunk Ape”
We had so much fun on this road trip – and we are planning another! Partnering with Maureen Sullivan Hartung author of HIDDEN HISTORY OF EVERGLADES CITY we will be doing a historical day tour of the area. For more information on this event please contact us at Not a Clue Adventures