Wednesday, March 18, 2009
Currently we are camped at the South Bay County Campground on the south side of Lake Okeechobee near South Bay, FL. This is a very nice park with good sites and full hook ups and sits immediately behind the lake. Lake Okeechobee is the second largest lake wholly in the USA and world renowned for its fishing. The lake was once much larger, but like the Everglades, was cut back by man’s need for land for agriculture and development. In 1928 a hurricane busted the existing dykes flooding the land and killing over 2000 people. The U S Army corps of Engineers built new and bigger barriers and an extensive flood control system that regulates the water levels to meet the demands of many, often conflicting, water needs.
We wanted to see the area and were not sure what to expect. The first surprise was the fact that this huge lake can only be seen from limited locations due to the huge dykes completely surrounding the lake. The lake is bounded by a series of canals and locks and the Intracoastal Waterway runs thru it.
The surrounding area was also a surprise. The major crop here is sugar cane and there are vast fields all around the lake and instead of military convoys occasionally seen on the interstates, here you can be trapped by large convoys of sugarcane vehicles. The poor condition of the towns surrounding the lake and the apparent poverty of the inhabitants was a shock. This was all the more apparent after spending weeks in the affluent area of Naples. As we drove thru the extremely depressing housing areas, we could not help but compare these sights to the places we observed in Belize and Honduras.
Even the tourist brochures seemed at a loss to come up with real attractions. We wanted to see the historic district of one town touted as a beautifully restored area. After driving around for twenty minutes, Anneke asked at the library about the described area and was told that it was the run down building in the immediate area.
Anneke had located via her research a real local’s restaurant on the north side of the lake at a small marina and campground. We had a completely fried lunch of catfish, hushpuppies and fries. It was good!
Finally, we took a real side road in the cane fields to find Uncle Joe’s campground and fish camp. This location was used in WWII as an internment camp for German prisoners and has been a campground/fish camp ever since. We also confirmed that our motorhome would not fit in there.