Well, we are now back to work once again and the season is nearing an end. Pam has had her share of extra problems but even that seems to be moving in the right direction. Back in February, Pam had an alligator accident!
Actually, she was leaving the visitor center and as she did she was distracted by a visitor getting too close to an alligator and so stepped off of the curb and twisted her ankle. Thus her famous alligator injury. In any case, she has had some problems with that leg ever since the accident and then to top everything off she got a really bad cold last week. But today she seems to be finally winning on the cold, after a doctor's visit. With asthma she usually needs medical help to beat a bad cold and the park had real problems with paperwork for her "on the job" injury so while she has seen a doctor, they want her to see a specialist that required special forms and it has taken three weeks to get that! But all seems to be heading in the right direction as she is now going back to work, although with restricted walking and using a cane. She will finally get to see the foot specialist in another ten days (you know how long it takes to get to see a doctor) and weather is nice so things look pretty good here.
I had hesitated to post anything about the ankle, just because I was not sure exactly what to say or how that would end. Like so much of government, too many people trying to place blame for the wrong forms and too few who were willing to do what was needed to correct the problem!
So all seems well with the world once again. It does look as though we may be held up on getting away with the treatment of Pam's ankle, but who knows. We are retired so I guess that we can always let something slide for a while!
Monday, 3/2(heavenly days where did February go?) we were out exploring once again. We traveled to the north and west and visited a small farming community of Immokalee. It was interesting but the main reason for going there was to see the Pioneer Museum. While it was good, they still have a way to go in order to make it complete.
It was very interesting though and we even got a personal tour from the museum manager. Of course, this is a museum with only two employees, the manager and the maintence guy. But it was informative and we were the only visitors there. As such we probably also heard a lot more history of the area. I found it fascinating that Florida was the first major cattle producing state and was the #1 supply for the south in the Cival War. The Texas cattle industry was just begining at that time and has a very common history in that both states had large populations of cattle that decended from those left behind by the first Spanish explorers. While the Cracker Cattle and the Texas Longhorn have a lot in common in apprearance, they are also very different in size and some other colors. It did make for an interesting day off. It was a very cold day in Florida! The day was sunny but the high temperature was only 64 degrees.........
On Friday, February 27 the local PBS TV station from Miami came to the park to work on a special show about volunteers at Everglades National Park. The first stop was at Shark Valley where each of us were asked to do one of our programs for the public while the crew taped it, then after that the crew interviewed each of us, followed by a short interview with the both of us and then some shots of the two of us as we walked through the area. It was an interesting experience and really kind of enjoyable. It was also rather flattering to be chosen as one of the programs to be taped. The crew spent just over two hours with us, then went over to Chikekia Area to interview the three Escapees member couples who work there. The project was to be filming for four days in the park with different volunteers in different parts of the park and different volunteer jobs in the park. We were two of the six who do interpretation to be part of the progam, there were several from maintenance, others from security and several other areas. At this point it isn't certain exactly how much time the show will be taking as the origional plan was only an hour and when they left they were discussing the possibility of makeing it longer. They did promise to send each of us who participated a CD of the finished show. A really interesting day!
About three weeks ago, we purchased a small, digital camera for Pam to carry in her pocket while at work. Since we had quite a number of choices in the near $100 price range that seemed to be of similar capability, we chose to buy one that the believed would be American made and have an American company behind it. Thus we chose a Kodak, Easy Share camera. Pam took care to properly register the warranty with Kodak on-line following all directions, listing the store where purchased and the complete sales information.
After two weeks of use the camera failed to turn on. Replacement of the batteries was no help! With great confidence Pam went back to the email which she had saved, confirming the registration of the camera's warranty. Carefully following the instructions she prepared to attempt to get it replaced or repaired. But wait, the company site informed her that the warranty would only be good if the camera was returned to them in it's origional box and with the origional of the sales recipt. Since we live in an RV we don't have room to keep a large collection of boxes. After extensive contact with Kodak we gave in since they insist that the origional box must be a part of the package for return to be accepted!
Investigation of the Kodak camera line also lead to another interesting discovery. Every one of the cameras that we found on the store shelf with the Kodak name also carried a lable reading "Made in China!"
The story has a happy ending in that even though it took a visit with a member of the store management, the Wal-Mart store where we purchased the camera did accept it back and Pam is now the proud owner of a new camera that carries the name "Cannon." Not only does this camera work very well, it was not made in China.
This year has been an especially good one for the birds and for those who enjoy watching them or photographing them.
The park is very busy with visitors interested in the birds nearly every morning for the first few hours of the day. Even though the early part of the day is the most active for the birds, all day of every day is busy with many different ones to see. It is especially good for the wading birds. Pam has become quite the expert on these interesting residents of the Everglades.
One interesting thing about Shark Valley area of this park is the fact that we are surrounded by small villages of Miccosukee Indians. It seems that the tribe owns a small strip of land for some distance along the highway known as the Tamiami Trail and as such the small villages are our nearest neighbors. As people who have long admired the native peoples we have known and been in contact with across the western part of the USA, we looked forward to learning about this little known band of America's first citizens. For us this has been a very disappointing experience.
Both the Seminole and the Miccosukee are remnants of bands of Creek Indians who fled south into the Everglades to avoid the moving of their people to the Oklahoma Territory, in the period of Indian relocation. Their cultures are quite similar, but they speak different languages and are very different people. Both are a very private people and we respect that, but while the Seminole operate a museum to welcome and educate the visitors, the Miccosukee are very unfriendly. They operate shops and tourist attractions along the highway that are little more than junk shops and the staff are very unhelpful and rude. Most of the items sold in the shops are made in China, with the few things which are native made are of poor quality & incredibly expensive. While most native Americans honor and respect all wildlife, the Miccosukee operate shows where they claim to wrestle alligators, which are kept in filthy pools, fed improper diets to keep them obese and sluggish and they think nothing of abusing them. They operate air boat rides where they go into areas with the noisy boats and feed the wildlife to keep them near for tourists to see, action bad for wildlife and not legal for US citizens. I could write far more, but since blogs are normally short, suffice it to say that what they show to the visitor who looks beneath the surface glitter is not a thing to admire and is very unlike what we have come to respect and admire in most of our native peoples. They go to great lengths to get our money with as little contact or honest business as possible and they seem to take great pride in being bad neighbors to the national park and it's employees. Most of the workers who have contact with the typical visitor are minimum wage employees from the community of recent immigrants to the country and almost none are tribal members.This is some of the worst of the tourist trap industry to be found in our area.
Current weather here, lows in the 50's and highs are running near 80 degrees. Most days are sunny to mostly sunny.
One thing that we did not anticipate at all when coming here was the language barrier when shopping. All of west Miami and the western and southern suburbs are communities of immigrants. We knew that there are many immigrants from Cuba and had expected to hear Spanish spoken frequently. But we did not anticipate the fact that this is a city of mostly immigrants and that the English language is rarely heard spoken. The area is inhabited by people from just about every South American country one can think of. We have spent a lot of time in Texas and California in locations where Spanish is common, but in this area it is sometimes difficult to find help in stores if you do not understand Spanish! We have had difficulty locating English speaking help in stores like Wal-Mart, K-Mart, Target and Best Buy. The background music is all in Spanish. Even at Christmas, it was very rare to hear music with English words. We have often discussed the fact that we have less difficulty shopping and feel far more welcome in the towns south of the Mexico border, than we do when visiting West Miami and Kendall. We have gotten to where we usually drive 70 miles into Naples to our west where English is spoken, rather than traveling just 25 miles to Kendal or 30 to Miami, because of the difficulty in getting assistance.
We find that in these communities we are rarely greeted in English and when we are, the help still banter in Spanish with us standing at the counter. On several occasions, we have had difficulty in finding help out on the floor of Wal-Mart who could understand us. Most restaurants do have at least some help who speak our language, but even there we often feel out of place. Even the few anglo residents of the western part of the city usually speak in Spanish. It has been an experience we will not soon forget and I doubt that we would ever consider returning.
One of the very best things about our present lifestyle has been the many wonderful friends that we have made along the way. We believe that our present life has enabled us to see things which we once only dreamed of and to have taken part in experiences that in our working days we could not even have imagined. But of all the wonderful things that our travels and work-camping experiences have lead to, the greatest of all have been the people that we can now call friends. In our time here we have been fortunate to meet several new friends from this website, or from other internet contacts. There have also been several of our RVing friends from past locations who have shared some time with us. I'll not list names here, since many readers would not recognize names and from the concern of leaving someone out. But for those who have visited us, consider this to be a very public "thank you" for caring enough to spend some of your time allowing us to meet with you! And for anyone who has not been here, consider this to be your personal invitation to stop by.We are always happy to renew friendships and to make new ones.
I can think of no greater gift that I could receive than the gift of your friendship!