Sunday, February 26, 2012

South Bay

Campground mascot
One of the great things about our journey is we sometimes (often) experience/witness things that we just had no idea happened but is a way of life for people of the region.  Our most recent example is the growth and harvesting of sugar cane.  As luck (?) would have it, it was harvesting time when we were parked in South Bay on the south side of Lake Okeechobee.  We drove through miles and miles of sugar cane fields to get to our campground and that was interesting, but it got more interesting.  After getting settled in our site we were sitting out enjoying a beautiful day and could see a fire off in the distance.  We thought, wow, some poor farm is on fire.  Upon further review of the horizon all around, there were a lot of those plumes of smoke. And then, we noticed the ash drifting down. I learned from our neighbor (a many-year visitor of the park) that they set the sugar cane fields on fire just before cutting in order to burn the dead leaves off for more compact and efficient harvest and hauling.  Interesting, but I must say that after being there for 2 weeks the ash makes a real mess of things. The wind/breeze can gift you with ash from fires miles away, not just close ones.  But, it was a learning experience to see how they set up the fields, burned, and harvested.  We loved the park but were glad to leave the ash hole.
Campground from the dike
Here are a couple of links if you are interested in learning about sugar production including the harvesting of the cane, or just google "sugar cane harvest" for photos and more links.

Our campground near South Bay was right next to the dike that goes all the way around Lake Okeechobee.  There is a walking/biking path all along the top of the dike.  Some of these photos are taken from that path.  The gator lives in the pond in the campground along with a smaller one.  They just lay/swim around and provide photo ops for the campers - not to mention lots of jokes about people keeping an eye on their dogs and cats.

Cane field burn plume

Path on dike - smoke plume in distance

Lake O isn't so open down on this end.
It is more like the start of the Evergades
system (which it is)

Sugar cane from dike

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