Not hard to get up and leave that nasty campground early. I stop and cook breakfast at a wayside, where a fisherman stops and says hello after walking by a few times. Then he comes back in his truck, reaches in a cooler and cerimoniously hands me half a dozen big claws and looks at me expectantly. “Thanks,” I say, “what are they?” Patiently, and a little disappointed, he explains that Stone Crab is a local delicacy. When continue to act clueless he demonstrates how to eat one.
After that I ride easy. I have to patch the front tire again once. On the bike I just stare out at the grassy, watery, cypress-filled expanses as they go by. There are so many American Egrets it looks as if they’re growing in the tangled branches of the cypress stands. Lots more alligators too, some of them holding their ground right in the road.
When I leave the preserve the wildlife slowly fades and the signs of development grow. It’s still early when I reach Collier Seminole State Park. It’s mainly a departure point for canoe trips into another preserved area of the Everglades. I note that it might be a good spot to come back with a sea kayak some day.
I lay around the picnic area eating, reading, and writing. Some Dutch tourists give me a couple of sandwiches and some veggies. I’m doing well in the food arena today!
There is a smaller area of the enormous campground where I decide to risk occupying a site. I melt some butter and start bludgeoning my stone crab claws. They’re not bad! When the ranger drives by he doesn’t even notice me there at the picnic table, dipping fresh crab meat in melted butter. The day has gone well.