Florida Day Eight: Farewell To South Florida And A Visit To The Secret Woods Nature Center Near The Fort Lauderdale Airport

Florida Day Eight: Farewell To South Florida And A Visit To The Secret Woods Nature Center Near The Fort Lauderdale Airport

Previous Post
Next Post

After checking out of the Bar Harbor/ Coconut Bay Resort on Saturday morning  I decided to leave Key Largo via the Card Sound Road. This more isolated route avoids the traffic on Highway One. It is a nice scenic road that a lot of folks don’t know about. After crossing the toll  bridge  over Card Sound  I came upon a unique roadside bar/restaurant and decided to stop and eat. I am glad I did. 

Alabama Jacks is  located on this remote,  isolated road. There is canal along the restaurant which   allows boats to dock alongside and order food and beverage or to visit this busy place. 

While waiting for my food I  inspected the many old license plates from all over the country and other interesting stuff that adorned the walls of this back woods or swamps establishment.  I was too early for the live entertainment but enjoyed some good loud music while waiting for my food.  It was early when I arrived, around 11 a.m. but the bar was already full of locals. 

I had a nice lunch of conch chowder and fish tacos. When leaving I told the waitress I bet it gets really hoping here at night. She told me no, they close at dark, because there are no lights on this remote road. Definitely a cool place for food and entertainment.

I continued my hour drive to the Fort Lauderdale airport in the usual heavy  traffic around Miami. I dropped off my SUV and  enjoyed another interesting taxi ride to my hotel. My driver was from Haiti.  He  was  my age.  We discussed life, politics, religion.  My hotel for the night was another adventure. I  had planned to stay on a beach side hotel . However, I didn’t make reservations until Thursday evening. It and  almost all of the other hotels near the airport were booked. I finally was able to get a room at the very budget Red Carpet  Inn. It would prove to be an interesting experience.  More about that later. 

After checking in to the hotel,  and looking for somewhere to walk , I  noticed a nearby park right not far from my hotel. Of course I decided to check it out. My hotel was located  in a busy commercial/industrial area  near the airport. I had to cross busy Highway 84 to get to the park. It wasn’t easy. 

After darting across the busy highway and walking a few blocks  I came to the Secret Woods County Park and Nature Center. What a nice discovery. I enjoyed my two mile hike in this  woodland sanctuary in the middle of this industrial and commercial area. 

There were many informative exhibits in the park but I didn’t have time to investigate them.  A lot of local folks, many with families and children were enjoying the woodlands and exhibits, even though the skies were darkening and threatening rain. 

There were a few trails in the Secret Woods nature preserve where a boardwalk would take you through  the sub-tropical mangrove forest. The tangled roots of the mangroves provided habitat for many local critters including some beautiful white ibises, 

that were walking in the tangled roots of the mangrove trees and feeding in the mud. 

Many of the native species had identification tags such as these strangler figs,

golden leather ferns and 

narrow sword ferns.

I even saw this pretty shelf mushroom growing in the sub-tropical forest. 

The boardwalk meandered through the mangrove swamp and led to the South Fork New River.

Unfortunately, there was no access to the river since a new manatee observation area is under construction. I walked through the mangrove forest and saw a few critters, some I was familiar with like this cute gray squirrel, 

this not so cute turkey vulture, 

spreading it’s wings on a treetop above the trail,

this spider, and ,

a few brown anole lizards. 

The skies got darker, and it was getting late in the afternoon, so I decided to leave the Secret Woods and  walk back to my hotel, first visiting a butterfly garden along the way.  Many of the plants were not in bloom, and I didn’t see any butterflies but there were some pretty flowers to enjoy, including theses butterfly bush flowers, 

the common beggarticks, 

and a blue dawn flower. 

There were also a lot of these holes near the flower garden, I am guessing the residences of some large land crabs. 

I left  the  lovely Secret Woods Park and made it back to my hotel  under the threatening skies. I was glad to have found this wonderful nature sanctuary in this busy commercial district near the airport. Here is a link to a gallery with some more photographs from my visit to the Secret Woods and my last day in Florida. Florida Day Eight. Drive to Fort Lauderdale and nature hike. February 19 2022. 

At my room I showered and now had to decide where to eat.  There were not many choices, without a car, and with threatening skies, so I decided to eat at a local sports bar next to my hotel.  I wasn’t expecting a great meal at the Marina 84  sports bar but I had a descent wholesome meal of  minestrone soup and salmon.  I hurried back to my room just as a thunderstorm approached.

I was full and after editing some photographs was ready for a good night sleep before my early flight back home. I quickly fell asleep but was awakened at 11 p.m. A car alarm was went  off outside of my room. It continued and I called the front desk, five times. They said they were working on it. An hour later, I called and demanded to speak to a manager. A man came on and said they don’t keep license information and there was nothing they could do. And they didn’t. The alarm becoming less frequent and less loud but  continued all night. I had ear plugs but they didn’t help much. Needless to say I got very little sleep. I looked forward to getting to the airport to get some sleep.  Well, traveling as often as I do, I have come to expect the unexpected. I wasn’t happy at the time but now it is just another story to tell. I had a nice flight home, sleeping a bit, reflecting on my trip, and planning my next adventure. Thanks for coming along!!! 

“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I — I took the one less travelled by, and that has made all the difference.” – Robert Frost


This is my first post