Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Ortona South Lock Campground

I am making this entry from Everglades NP. We are going to spend two weeks in the park to ensure that we get the whole experience. We also love the warm weather when the rest of the US is experiencing very cold weather. We are truly snow birds. The first week in the park was spent in Flamingo, which has no Verizon cell signal and no WIFI. So, now it is time to get writing in this blog to keep it semi current. So let's go back to late December.

We left Bill Frederick park in Orlando on December 26. That was the same day that Shannon, Brian and Amelia headed for home. We had a great visit and can't thank them enough for coming to Florida. We were very happy to get out of the hustle and bustle of the big city of Orlando. As we drove south on Highway 27 we left the city and started to see sections of farm land. The further we got south the cites became smaller and further apart. After about 160 miles we arrived at Ortona South Lock Campground.

We immediately loved this place. There is no road noise and it seemed to be filled with quiet, respectful campers. We had good cell signal and good OTA TV.  Like many COE parks the sites are large and the facilities are first rate. The only problem is that the cost is a bit high at around $30 per night. We did also have some noise during the day from a near by COE construction project that is being done to provide more water to the Everglades. It is difficult to get a reservation at this park. I made our reservation a couple of months in advance and we could only get 5 days.

Nice size sites
Big Construction site next door for Everglades restoration. 
The Caloosahatchee Canal is right next to the campground. You can walk over the dam and watch the lock in operation. This canal goes from Lake Okeechobee to the Gulf of Mexico. The canal continues on the other side of the lake and goes to the Atlantic Ocean. This canal can be used to "cut off" the trip down through the keys around the tip of Florida reducing the trip by around 200 miles. We did not see any commercial traffic on the canal. It was all pleasure craft.

Here is a shot of the lock door opening.

These two boats ready to rise to the water line you can see on the far wall. 
While we were watching the lock we saw our first manatee. The have learned to use the lock to move up and down the river. That was very cool, but I did not get any good pictures.

The big white blog in the middle of this picture is a manatee.

This beautiful Sport Fishing boat was next coming in from the high side. 
The overall lift in the lock is about 13 feet. I spent a fair amount of time watching the lock in operation while I was there. I was thinking about how I may some day use this canal and may need to know how to do a lock.

We saw only two sailboats and a few nice trawlers coming through. It kept me entertained. Kim, not so much. I guess I just have boat on the brain.

Beautiful trawler just exiting the lock
While I was hanging around the locks, I saw a large alligator swimming around. This was the first one we had seen on this trip.

The black blob in the middle is an about 10 foot  alligator 

There were some beautiful birds hanging around the canal. I did my best to get a few good shots.

Snowy Egret

Bald Eagle
We had another very cool thing happen while we were at Ortona. I was walking through the park and said hi to a gentleman walking the other way, when he looked at me I recognized him. His name is Steve Lowe. I said, "I know who you are". What a brilliant thing to say. We talked for a few minutes and agreed to talk again later in the week. He and his wife Mona Liza write a blog that I have been following for a long time. I follow their blog because they go to great places and Mona Liza takes awesome pictures. Mona Liza was out of town for the holidays, but was kind enough to stop by the trailer when she returned and spent a couple hours with us. They are awesome people and we really enjoyed our time together. Following other blogs can be a great way to get camping information and to meet awesome people. Here is a link to their blog: https://lowestravels.com/

Mona Liza, Steve and Kim
We had an outstanding time at Ortona, but it ended too soon. We were heading into the New Years Day weekend and they were full, so it was time to move on. I found a campground about 40 miles away that sounded nice except for the name. Would you stay at a place called "Fisheater"? Well, we did. Come back to see how that worked out.


  1. If you plan on heading back to Florida to stay for anything longer then a week you nearly have to book a year ahead. Booking on Sanibel Island has a Two Year Reservation List.
    Be Safe and Enjoy!

    It's about time.

    1. Thanks for the comment. We have found places to stay while we are in So. Florida, but you have to be flexible.

  2. Those locks are fascinating. The first time in one is always intimidating so it was a good idea to see what the protocol was. We love Trawlers, Barb and I talked about if we ever lived on a boat that is what we would pick.
    Awesome that you were able to meet up with the Lowe's, we hope to do the same when they are in Crystal River in a couple of weeks!

    1. I did find them amazing to watch. I hope to be able to use that knowledge soon.

  3. Time was so short, we did not even have a happy hour and we could have talk more! Hey maybe next time when you take your boat /rv/trawler out west :)
    It was a pleasure meeting you and Kim! and always fun to meet fellow bloggers.
    We did not see the Bald Eagle but we also saw lots of birds and Ally :)