We returned from the cruise to Everglades City and the MoHo was there waiting for us at one of our favorite parks from last year, Everglades Isle. This time around we were fortunate enough that we were able to leave it plugged in, so the fridge did not go on the blink like last year when we left it for the 9-day cruise. We parked in the same site as last year, site #5, right across from two airboat companies on the Barron River. It felt great to get home and sleep in our bed, and have all the comforts we have come to enjoy in our 350 square foot home on wheels.
Some of you may remember we stayed here last year, but only for 5 nights, this time we decided to make it 2 weeks. Now two weeks may sound like a long time in one place, especially for us, but we were able to find plenty of things to keep us busy, especially fishing for me! The park was set up about 5 years ago and they spared no expense building this place. One of my favorite areas of the park is the massive dock that runs the entire length of the park. There must be over 125 boat slips that can be used by guests, or purchased or rented by locals, but the best part is it offers great access to the river and the fishing. I did not fish every day, although Traci might think I did, but I did spend a lot of time catching and releasing the local species. As you can see from some of the pictures, the river was very bountiful, and I had a ton of success. For me it was like reading a book, super relaxing and I very my enjoyed that aspect of this place.
As it was December, we were here for two holidays, Christmas and New Years. For Christmas, the park had a huge potluck dinner, with everything you could imagine. One of the park residents BBQ’d turkeys and another made the ham. There was everything and more you would come to expect at a holiday dinner, a very fun celebration away from family and making new friends. For New Years, it was much the same, with an array of appetizers and snacks, with champagne from the park staff; it made for a very enjoyable night. We actually made it up past midnight!
With us being at Everglades Isle for 2 weeks, it gave us a chance to get to know people in the park. Many of the nights we made our way up to happy hour in the clubhouse, a great venue that hosted the holiday events, but was so much more than just a clubhouse. (There is a full theater, spa, free laundry, super nice restrooms with towels, gym, etc.) Each night from 4-7PM was happy hour at the bar, and Shirley and Norma were there to make just about whatever anyone wanted. This year we met many of the other campers, some renters like us, others that own their sites. (The sites are for rent or sale, and those purchase already were the owners, not to be confused with the park owner Mark who was also around much of the time.) Our first night we met Steve and his wife Mary Lou, and they were just wonderful. Always around, their smiles were infectious. Then there were Nancy and Lonnie, whom I think we met last year, but only briefly. Lonnie actually captained the resort pontoon boat one day for the group, out to the 10,000 islands area, a fun trip for sure. Another couple, Kristine and Chris from Ontario, we spent a couple very fun nights with. They hosted us for dinner one night and we had them over for cocktails another and rang in the New Year together. We hope to meet up with them again on the road, or maybe back in the Pacific NW sometime, and their two dogs, Pepper and Beau. There were many others that we were introduced to, some of which were only there for a few days, but the clubhouse and happy hour really brought everyone together, a truly unique aspect of Everglades Isle.
The town itself is small, and we did eat out a few times, even once back up at Naples on a grocery run. (The grocery store in town is what we would consider a glorified mini-mart, just not a lot to choose from, but there was a single pop-up tent fruit stand a couple days a week at the post office that helped with keeping us well stocked with the produce we needed.) But, most of the time we cooked at home, and that helped save us a lot of money here. With the town being so small, we also rode our bikes just about everywhere. I would go to the fruit stand or bait shop and be back in minutes, very handy for sure.
We made a return trip to “Alligator Alley,” well at least the one I consider. Alligator Alley is what many in Florida call highway 75 from Naples to Miami. But running in the same direction to the south is Highway 41. Off Hwy 41 there is Hwy 831, Turner River Road, that runs north, and we had visited there last year. This highway turns into a dirt road very quickly, but has a fresh water canal that parallels it and is home to hundreds of gators, tons of turtles, and all sorts of odd-looking native birds. Many people do not know of this little place, but we got a tip last year and enjoyed returning to see the wildlife.
Everglades Isle is one our top 5 parks (We have stayed at about 145 now) we have be fortunate enough to say at twice now, but much of the overall experience goes to the managers of the resort, Janine and Ralph. We met them last year, and they remembered us from that short time, starting with the initial contact to make our return reservation. They both work basically every day, it seems like they were always available with answers to any question or challenges. Ralph spent a couple hours one night trying to get the new WiFi system back up and running – and was successful! Janine was there to answer questions, cut my hair, make us a drink while lounging at the pool in the afternoons, etc. Without these two, this place would not run like the well-oiled machine it is. Thanks you two! Again we can’t say enough of how much we enjoyed this park and stay, and maybe someday we will get the chance to return. Now, onto Key Largo!