The Everglades, Part 2: Collier Seminole & Monument Lake (again)

Collier-Seminole State Park

After camping at Monument Lake for the first part of our stay in the Everglades, we headed towards Naples to Collier-Seminole State Park for a few days. It was only about 30 miles west and didn’t take any time at all to get there.

camping site 100 at Collier Seminole State Park

After five days of dry camping, we were ready for some services. The site was wide with a little bit of shade. You can see in the photo that we were able to park the car next to the rig. You can also see Kevin on a conference call.

When we first arrived, it was breezy, and bugs weren’t a problem. But as the winds died down, the bugs picked up a bit. It wasn’t out of control when we were there, but we did use spray and kept the house closed up.

Campground Crankypants

You can also see our neighbors in the photo. And were they a piece of work. Or at least the woman was. It’s hard not to notice your neighbor’s business when they’re that close. This woman couldn’t open her mouth without bitching at the man.

One day, he brought out a tablecloth and seat covers and set up the picnic table. As soon as he finished, she screams out the door “I didn’t say I wanted to eat outside! Why did you put all that out there?” So he gathered it all up and took it inside.

We also heard her screaming at Reserve America because their reservation was for two different sites and they had to move in the middle of their stay. Boo hoo, that’s how it works. You’re not special and you screaming at a reservation agent for 15 minutes isn’t going to change the system.

Now the best part about these neighbors is that they had a little miniature dachshund. Every time the man brought him out of the RV to take him for a walk, he would start barking the second he hit the ground. And he always barked the whole time he was out. Not loud, just conversationally. And the man kept telling him in a defeated sounding voice “no barking.” It was a site, that’s for sure. I guess you had to be there.

Creepin’

One of our favorite pastimes at campgrounds is to ride our bikes around and creep on other campers checking out their rigs and set-ups. And maybe play some Pokemon Go.

So one day we were doing our creepy creep and saw this cutie checking into the campground.

tinyredcaravan's scamp at collier seminole state park

Of course, I posted this photo on Instagram. Because look at that thing! It’s like a piece of candy! I want to hug it!

After we left Collier Seminole, the owners of that squee little scamp, Tiny Red Caravan, found my post when looking at Instagram posts at the campground. Busted! But in a good way. We ended up following each other on Instagram, and we do eventually meet. But that will have to wait for a future blog post.

Nature Walk

There are a few things to do in the park. There’s a walking dredge used to help build the Tamiami Trail in the 1920s that you can check out, you can rent canoes, and there are hiking trails, including an easy one-mile trail and boardwalk. We spent most of our time riding bikes around when we weren’t working but did take time out to check out the easy trail.

view at end of trail at collier seminole state park

I had to look this up – it’s Christmas Lichen. We saw it in a couple more place before we left Florida. Nature, you crazy.

christmas lichen at collier seminole state park

We also saw this big snail on a tree. I didn’t have a banana handy to give you scale, but it was about two inches long.

big tree snail at collier seminole state park

The Smallest Post Office in the United States

After Collier-Seminole, we headed back to Monument Lake because our friends Taylor and Beth of the Learning Banks were leaving the Keys and going to meet us there.

We saw the Ochopee Post Office on the way to Collier-Seminole and knew we had to stop on the way back to Monument Lake. It’s the smallest post office in the United States! And, we had a package to mail.

The post office building used to be an irrigation shed for a tomato farm. But when the old post office burned down, it moved into the shed. And never left. Definitely worth a quick stop if you’re on the Tamiami Trail. There’s room to pull an RV into their lot. It’s also a fun place to mail a postcard. They have them for sale.

mailing a package at the smallest post office in the united states

I wasn’t kidding; we had a package to mail. I hope the woman didn’t have to sit on it.

ochopee post office

ochopee florida post ofice

our winnebago next to the ochopee post office

RV for scale.

selfie at the smallest post office in the united states

Back to Monument Lake

Now, we’re settling back at Monument Lake in a different spot.

Again, the sunsets here are lovely. So is eating pizza outside with a beer.

another monument lake sunset

pizza and beer at sunset at monument lake

Meeting new friends

Oh, hey, you see that travel trailer next to us? That’s Shannon and Talula of @SweetTtravels! We met them back at John Pennekamp briefly but got to hang out a bunch more here at Monument Lake. Miss you guys!

Shark Valley

If your number one thing to do in the Everglades is taking an airboat ride, number two is to bike the loop at Shark Valley. Entrance and parking are free with your American the Beautiful pass. If you’re not up for biking that far, although it is flat, there is a tram, but I think it’s $25 per person. They also rent bikes.

Do you like bird watching? Would you like to see alligators up close and personal? Shark Valley is your place. About every ten feet along the bike path there is an alligator. Or two. The water birds are at least as plentiful. We even saw roseate spoonbills, but sadly they were too shy to have their photos taken.

water bird at shark valley in the everglades

another water bird at shark valley in the everglades

resting alligators at shark valley in the everglades

At the halfway point of the path, there’s an observation tower. From up there it all looks like a different world. Difficult to believe we’re still in the United States.

observation tower at shark valley in the everglades

It’s Taylor and Beth of the Learning Banks coming up the ramp to the observation tower.

the learning banks on the observation tower at shark valley in the everglades

view from the observation tower at shark valley in the everglades

reflections from the observation tower at shark valley in the everglades

Those three birds you can barely see near the center of the photo might be the first roseate spoonbills we saw.

amazing view from the observation tower at shark valley in the everglades

We got there later in the afternoon so had no trouble parking. But at peak times you’ll find yourself parking out on the Tamiami Trail because the lot is full.

Getting there late also meant we were close to having them shut the gate on us. But it was worth it for the sunset views.

nearing sunset at shark valley in the everglades

sunset at shark valley in the everglades

a group of birds sleeping in the trees at shark valley in the everglades

sunset at shark valley in the everglades

And here’s one last sunset at Monument Lake.

sunset and crescent moon at monument lake

Weirdness at Monument Lake

In the last post, I forgot to tell you about the weirdness during our first stay. One evening the sheriff showed up and seemed to be talking to one of the campers for a while then made him leave. Not sure what was up with that. He looked like a cool enough dude but who knows.

Our second stay at Monument Lake, we were all huddled inside one night, and it was pouring rain. The campground was full and the sign saying so was right at the entrance. Just past campground quiet time, some jackass pulls into the campground with a giant rig towing a boat. He pulls into the grass right up behind another camper, not in a spot at all, pops out his slides, cranks up his generator, and starts watching TV. WTF.

Eventually, the camp host had the law come by and tell him to GTFO. So he had to make the campground loop of shame before heading down the road to find a Walmart or something close to midnight. If he hadn’t been a dick about it, the camp host might have let him stay or at least pointed him to a place to stay. But no, he had to roll in like he owned the place. I hope he woke up in a Walmart parking lot with his rig covered in cane toads.

A Visitor

No, not Talula out there in the grass. The visitor was a little bird that got inside our RV. See him there on the dash? Don’t worry; we were able to remove him safely.

a bird got inside our RV at monument lake

And that’s about it for the Everglades. Time to start heading north, very, very slowly.

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Laura Nunemaker

About the Author

Laura Nunemaker

vegan. digital nomad. cycling. scuba. intj. former vegan bakery owner.

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