Lake Okeechobee is Waiting for You!
Commercials with guys hawking Okeechobee RV living dot online space. He’s happy! His life is good! You should be his neighbor.
Silver Palms RV Resort
One of our neighbors at TGO recommended visiting the upscale Silver Palms RV Resort. We signed on to a three- day special for people who might be interested in purchasing a lot. Silver Palms RV Resort was clean, well-kept, gorgeous, and the landscaping made you feel as if you were in an arboretum or your own special island. People were welcoming and it was a quiet. TGO is aging and we thought we might like to live in a community that was newer and younger in many ways.
But the city of Lake Okeechobee is very small. With only about 6,000 residents, it provides little entertainment, shopping, volunteer, or tourist activities. Official tourism sites claim that more than 1.3 million tourists trek through their town. Where do they stay?
Heading south out of Okeechobee toward Lake Okeechobee you will find the answer. The main road in the town of Okeechobee ends at the lake. Some websites say that there are 120 RV or mobile home resorts in and around Lake Okeechobee. We turned right on Florida 78 and there were rows and rows of RV parks, Mobile Home parks, and RV resorts.
I made a list and then threw it away!
Turning left on Florida 78 heading toward the Seminole Battlefield Historic State Park we ran into a Mobile Home Depot.
That was a first for us. I was looking forward to the Park because I hoped to tell the Seminoles’ brutal story. Upon arrival we found no one, no literature, no explanation of anything, and a nice sidewalk that led to locked restrooms. Florida seems to have trouble maintaining its zillion parks.
There was not much to do in Okeechobee. While the town is so small, it has a Walmart, the fashion store Bealls, and a super-duper Publix with quite a few restaurants.
Air Boat Rides
Tom found a site that offered air boat rides. At TGO we hear airboats almost every night in the St. John’s National Wildlife Refuge. They are loud and annoying. We wonder what they are doing out in the marshes all night? But we leaped and booked to passage on an airboat on Lake Okeechobee with one of the locals. They assured us that there would be social-distancing.
You would never know that airboat rides originated from the desolate site on the lake. We could not find a terminal. Finally, someone yelled at us and said that he was the airboat guy and two other people are coming with us. His boat was moored along a grassy portion of the lake. We had to slip down a muddy hill to take our seats on the airboat. Our guide provided us with headsets and seat belts. Throughout the ride he talked and sometimes vented to us.
The Lake looks like a Swamp!
Within seconds of strapping down, the pilot headed straight through grass that was over 8 feet tall. It reminded me of the elephant grass in Sierra Leone. Where was the water? Throughout the hours we spent on the lake we woke up many alligators and birds that seemed to dwarf me. We could not see any fish. It was an exciting and unusual experience. Do this once if you get a chance.
We were booked at the Everglades National Park earlier this year. Unfortunately, our RV needed repairs and we had to cancel. One of the things we were looking forward to was an airboat tour in the Everglades. Okeechobee stepped up and made it happen for us.
Okeechobee Lake is very shallow and is less than six feet in most places. (Most websites say it is nine feet deep, but it is very low at the moment.) Several spots were less than a foot deep. There is a canal that runs through the middle of it with five locks. Built in 1937 after the terrible hurricanes of 1926 and 1928. The floods killed many people living around the lake. You can travel from the Atlantic to the Gulf of Mexico in that river/canal. Kayakers love it.
Cycling Around the Lake!
If you like to bike, the levee or berm that circles the lake after the floods is 140 miles long. You can peddle all around the lake. One of our friends has biked on top of the levee. It was unappealing for us because of the smell, dirt, and low water in the lake. Perhaps it is better at other places you can enter the lake!
Okeechobee is situated in the middle of the state. In a little more than an hour you can reach the Atlantic (Palm Beach) or the Gulf of Mexico (Fort Meyers). It is a good place to land if you want to explore Southern Florida.
Okeechobee is waiting for you. We are happy we met her!
As always, this blog is copyrighted by Marla J. Selvidge