Sunday, January 19, 2014

2014 Florida Trip – A Drive Around The Lake

Before we decided to spend a month near Okeechobee, FL we were warned by our friends that there is not much there and during the tour they gave us of town, they said it was just one big fish camp.

After the first week of getting organized, getting relaxed, and waiting for Pat to fly in (you can tell she came from the North), 

we decided it was time to make the roughly 100 mile journey around the lake to see the sites.

We began at our campground and headed south on US-441which is a much busier road (especially semis) than I would have expected considering the location.  I guess it may be a good route between the West Palm and the Tampa areas. 

There seem to be three main industries in the area - farming, ranching, and fishing based tourism.  Lake Okeechobee claims to be the best lake in the country for crappie and one of the best for bass.

In general the bottom side of the lake seems to be farming while the upper end is ranching.  This is a Google Earth shot of the lower part.

Here are some shots of some of the richest looking farmland I’ve seen and the crops of corn and sugar cane.  The smoke in the middle shot is from a cane field that is being burned to remove the greenery prior to harvesting the stalks to make sugar.

These are some shots of the Port Mayaca dam & lock and the lake from the rim (dike) near it - most of the rim has either a trail or road atop it.  We were hoping to see the Mantees that had been spotted in the canal but no luck, however, we managed to catch a boat coming off the lake and headed for the lock and at this point, the canal and lake are at the same level.

This lock is part of the Okeechobee Waterway system which runs from Stuart thru the lake, 154 miles across the state to the Fort Myers area.  This allows boats and some barges to save the extra190 miles required to go around the keys.  
I have been amazed at the lake-surrounding rim and extensive canal system that provides for flood protection, transportation, and water to cities and the Everglades.  I had no idea such a massive project had been undertaken.

I know there is a tremendous amount of wealth in Florida and I suspect most of it resides within 10 miles of the coastline as it sure isn’t around here.  Most of the area around the lake is pretty economically depressed and the further south we went the worse it became.  I can only assume many folks are farm workers and it doesn’t pay well.

While on the other side of the lake, we made a brief stop at the Brighton Seminole Reservation to make a small donation to the tribe.

I’ve shown shots of our RV park

but most of them near us look more like these.

Then there are some between these and ours, such as the KOA and the one in the last two shots.  Most places seem to have started out as RV parks but they became permanent with the addition of a room alongside - there is a heavy concentration of these parks at the north end of the lake and most seem to have been around for quite a while.

This is one of our favorite places as the Honey Bells are in and the grapefruits are delicious - hard to beat a Salty Dog made with good fresh grapefruit juice which Ferrell's squeezes.

While this area certainly seems to be a fisherman’s paradise, there is not much here to offer the average camper unless it’s a warmer-weather-than-up-north-place to kick back, which is what we've been doing.   We’ll be making day trips over to the Atlantic coast soon to check it out.

Photos best if enlarged by clicking on them.

Have a great day and thanks for stopping by Almost Heaven South.


1/14/14 meal date


  1. I'm glad you got to see the locks in Stuart. We've spent several hours there just watching the boats go through and enjoying the weather. The lake itself is an amazing engineering feat, but you are so right about the towns on the south side of the lake being depressed, especially around the sugar cane fields. It's the land of the haves and have-nots. Their black dirt is amazing though. From the glades going west to Fort Myers are fields and fields of orange groves. Glad you are having a relaxing time and we're looking forward to seeing you guys this week for lunch.

  2. It's amazing how many casinos there are these days.

  3. Growing up on South Florida I can remember the sugar cane fields, A little more than a decade ago there was a lot of controversy about Dixie Crystals and the operation they were running- I can see that the scenery has not changed much in the twenty years that I have not been there.
    Enjoy your time. Enjoy the seafood too.

  4. I've never been to Florida. I love your RV posts because I like seeing your side of the country.

  5. That certainly is a huge lake! I've never been inland in that part of Florida but it sure must be a fishermans paradise. Looks like you're close enough to the coast for some nice side trips. Enjoy the weather!

  6. Your trip around this lake reminds me of a childhood family vacation one summer when my mother decided that we need to drive around Lake Superior. It was pretty non-exciting except for a couple of stops. I'd love of those fresh Florida grapefruit right now! You're sure getting a lot of Vitamins C and D!

  7. Larry, We're glad to see that you've explored the boondocks that surround the lake. We noted the same things...not much money around the area and not much going on. We checked out the canal and a couple of boats going through it too... Take Care, Big Daddy Dave

  8. I'm always amazed at lakes that you can't see across. We've got ponds here in Colorado compared to.


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