• Ortona South COE, FL


    Entrance to the park!

    Ortona is an almost-perfect little campground on the Okeechobee Waterway; what would make it perfect is if it was FHU.

    Ortona is  roughly two-thirds from La Belle to Clewiston on the north side of a huge cow pasture. Or it’s halfway from Nowhere and BFE but things are changing. SR 80 is being four-laned and ranches are being turned into developments with a capital D. And every one of them will have a friggin golf course.


    Lane by lot 13 and the bathhouse!

    Anyway, the Garmin gal tried to make us turn through a farm gate onto a non-road. You  want to turn on Dalton Road, not Goodno Road no matter what the blithering bitch (Miss Garmin) might say. And we wended our way through the cows to Ortona South camppground provided by the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers.


    A tug boat pushing a tug boat through the locks!

    It’s 51 sites in two loops and all are long;  they’re not only big-rig friendly, some are two-rig friendly. All sites  have a _covered_ picnic table and a fire ring/bbq pit. While the roads are blacktop the sites are concrete and are perfectly level. The shower houses are ship-shape.

    One could say there’s not a whole lot to do. That depends on your perspective. You could piddle around on your 3G or 4G internet or  you could go outside and watch boats go through the lock and if you’re really ambitious you could go down to the fishing pier a drown bait while watching boats go through the lock.

    Beautiful Palms through out the park!

    Beautiful Palms through out the park!

    What’s really to do is BE WARM IN WINTER! There’s a crowd that meets here every winter. Unfortunately there’s a 14-day limit.

    BTW Ortona North appears to be a boat launch and rec area but you can’t get there from here.

    Directions to Ortona South Campground:

    Campground Office is at N26º 47′ 15.00″ W81º 18′ 28.98″. The physical address is 2410 Dalton Lane SW, Moore Haven, FL 3347

    Phone: 863-675-8400

    From LaBelle, travel 10 miles east on Highway 80, turn north on Dalton Lane and follow into campground.

    From Clewiston, travel 9 miles north on Highway 27 to Highway 80. Follow Highway 80 west for 14 miles to Dalton Lane, turn north and follow into campground.
    Contact Info



  • Trail Lakes Campground and Skunk Ape Research Center

    We’ve had a very nice week here at Trail Lakes. It’s been warm here while the rest of the country was doing some sort of Polar Vortex thingie; it’s also the second southernmost campground on the mainland. If you want to go farther south you’ll go to the Keys ($$$$) or take a boat.


    Trail Lakes was obviously a mighty spiffy campground before Alligator Alley took all the traffic to the north, leaving Tamiami Trail a backwater. There’s evidence everywhere from the large coquina gateposts to the unused fountain to the assorted white concrete railings and site posts. It’s rustic with a capital R but things are changing.


    Now there’s all sorts of paving with permeable materials, brand-new electrical hookups and lots of dirt. Dividers are plowed up between campsites and native shrubs planted. It’s going to be mighty spiffy again. Our neighbors across the pond spent the whole day yesterday planting stuff out in front of their site.


    We are well and truly out in the boonies but it’s different this time. The aircard works and campground wifi works when people aren’t hogging it. But the news is that there _is_ campground wifi. And the phone works, for what that counts. Sprint and Verizon if you’re keeping track.


    Water/electric is $25/night at this time; there’s dump station around the corner. Also there’s a showerhouse and a laundry.


    We didn’t go down to Everglades City; Google shows a Quick Rip there plus another one at the turnoff from SR 29. We believe the closest supplies are in east Naples, which is a ways away. Trail Lakes and Midway are the only w/e campgrounds between Collier-Seminole SP and Krome Avenue; Trail Lakes is the only one you could stay at monthly.


    Now, this Skunk Ape thing. Dave Shealy saw and photographed the Skunk Ape out back of the campground; he christened a business as the Skunk Ape Research Center. The Skunk Ape is Florida’s Bigfoot but he’s short, affects a Monty Python Silly Walk and stinks. While that would describe many of my friends and relatives, the Skunk Ape is a real critter and has been seen in Big Cypress, Corkscrew, the Myakka River and up into the Kissimmee Valley and Reedy Creek. The Discovery Channel did a series on the Skunk Ape that brought down the utmost attention of the National Park Service.


    Also offered are assorted poleboat, canoe and kayak tours.


    Trail Lakes Campground
    40904 Tamiami Trail US 41
    Ochopee, FL 34141
    (800) 504-6554






    Sunset for skunk apes.

    Sunset for skunk apes.

  • Polk City to Ochopee

    We boogied on south from Polk City on the Polk Parkway. It’s a toll road and there was no traffic at all. It’s amazing to think that someone would go through incredible traffic to save $1.25. Idiots and good for them; leave the road for me. We got off toward Bartow and had a couple of stops, the grocery store and THE LIQUOR STORE. Notice the level of importance.

    Out of Bartow, fortified by Burger King, the grocery store and THE LIQUOR STORE!

    We got to Zolfo Springs where we were tentatively staying the night at Pioneer Park. Pioneer Park appeared ok for  a night or two but since it was only 2 in the aftermoon we really needed to push on.

    So we go down US 98..and down US 98..and keep going. Eventually we get to SR 29 where we can turn right..and go..and go..

    It’s amazing  how long these roads in south Florida are. On the map it’s just a little ways while in fact it’s endless..endless..

    Eventually, endlessly, we arrive at Tamiami Trail and turned east, passing the Ochopee post office and arriving at the Skunk Ape place. And that’s another story.