Paul's African Safari!

Trip Start Sep 20, 2007
Trip End May 16, 2008

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Flag of United States  , Florida
Friday, December 14, 2007

Rain rain go away,
Come again another day,

It started raining during the night. It stopped when I packed up the trailer. It started raining when I was driving in the stopped stopped! Then it stopped for good...that is...until I got to the campground. I set up...and then it starts raining. Key West is Mile 0 on Highway 1 on Florida's east coast. Looking at the map I figured I would follow along the east coast on Highway 1 until I reached Miami and the start of Interstate 95. Then follow Interstate 95 up to West Palm Beach. Bad call...extremely bad decision! Driving through the Keys there were isolated showers. There was a group of about 10 motorcycles that passed me at one time. Then the rain came again...really hard. They stopped on the side of the road and they all looked like drowned rats. With a second look during the drive back up the Florida Keys wasn't as disappointing as my first observation. I noticed things I hadn't the first time through heading in the opposite direction. I could spend more time here exploring. Just like the rest of life, maybe we need to take a second look from an altered perspective before arriving at a conclusion about things.
The Rip Off Upholstery Shop!   I am constantly amazed at people's imagination to come up with ingenious business names with various meanings.
When I made my plans to go to Key West I looked at my driving options. There were 3. The first was the toll Highway from about 10 miles east of the campground all the way down to Florida City...the last town before hitting the Key's Highway 1. Option #2 was taking Interstate 95, which was about 15 miles east of the campground, then when that ended in Miami take Highway 1 to Florida City. Option 3 was head west for about 30 miles from the campground, then straight south through a few towns until you ended up on the west side of Florida City. Option 1 was the fastest and shortest but there would be tolls to pay, Option 2 was a little longer and slower, Option 3 would be the longest and slower (as per the GPS and Mapquest which don't take into account that I drive slower than the posted speed).
I went with Option 3 on my drive down to Fiesta Key on Tuesday morning. The extra time (potentially) and distance would be offset by my sanity of not being passed by a few thousand cars and the scenery would probably be nicer. Excellent choice! Though for a while there I was wondering whether I had made a bad call. I came upon a sign that said "blasting area ahead-expect delays". As I got closer a sign said expect 30 minute delays when blasting between 11 am and 2 pm. It was 10h45. Along one side of the highway they were doing some digging and piling up a lot of crushed rock. Then I came to the area where they had drilled some holes and inserted some explosives. 20 minutes later and I who have been in the middle of a large BANG and flying rocks!  Along this highway there were numerous farms...mostly sugar cane.

As I approached Florida City the highway was lined with Greenhouses and Garden Centres. The most amazing greenery, flowers and other botanical wonders were on display. I arrive in Florida City and I start seeing Police Officers lining up in the middle of various intersections. I start wondering what's going on. I get to one intersection and notice up ahead that there's a funeral home that is emptying out. The Police are stopping all traffic going in the opposite direction. I pass that and traffic is light. A couple of days ago I described the rest of my journey through the Keys to the campground.
Since my trip down was quite nice and relaxing why would I decide to take Option 2 to return? Well...I am here to experience stuff so why take the same route twice. I get to see more stuff this way. I knew that once I got to Interstate 95 that there would be a lot of traffic. I'm getting use to people zooming past me and there being people all around me. The thing with anxiety disorders is that the more you do something the less it affects your anxiety (or the exact opposite can gets worse).

Highway 1 from Florida City to Miami was a surprise. I expected a highway with the occasional traffic light. 15 years ago we flew into Miami 3 days before taking a cruise. We rented a car and drove south from Miami to visit the coast. Mostly the route I took today. At that time it was mostly open space (that's my story and I'm sticking to it). Now it's completely filled with businesses. Think driving down Macleod Trail in Calgary...Portage Avenue in Winnipeg...Broadway in New York...Via Del Corso in Rome or Main Street in Anytown, North America. Add in an accident and construction and imagine what that was like. Also at one point the 3 lanes of traffic shrunk. Each lane was barely the width of the trailer. There was also constant traffic. The stop and go traffic was tiring but there was nothing I could do about it so I just went along with it. There was just the one point where I almost took out a cop car. I came up to an intersection and to the right a Police Car with its lights flashing and siren blaring was trying to inch through traffic. Needing 3 sets of eyes at this time I didn't see the Cop until it was about to inch through traffic in front of me. At the speed I was going...a lot less than the speed limit...I still couldn't stop on a dime. I must have missed the car by inches.
Last Monday I indicated that the campground I was staying at was part of the Lion Country Safari. As noted above it started raining as soon as I finished setting up the trailer. Oh! I'm back at the same campground.  If I wanted to drive through the Safari Park I would have to start the drive before 4. At 3h30 I decided to go. It's stopped raining. There are signs everywhere to stay in your car and keep your windows rolled up. I pretty well have the Park to myself. I notice one other car driving through.

The Park is separated into 7 different areas. Las Pampas with the Brown Pelican, Aldabra Tortoise, Rhea, South American Tapir and the Llamas. The Ruaha National Park with the Impala, the Great Kudu, and the Aoudad. The Kalahari Bushveldt with the Nile Lechwe and the Gemsbok. The Gir Forest with the Nilgai, the Blackbuck and the Asiatic Water Buffalo. The African Lion has the Gorongosa Reserve all to itself. In the Serengeti Plains we find the Ostrich, the Addra Gazelle, the Mouflon, the Eland, the Wildebeest, the Waterbuck, and the African Elephant. Finally we have the Hwange National Park that has the White-handed Gibbon, the Giraffe, Grant's Zebra, the Chimpanzee and the Southern White Rhinoceros.

I bent the rules a bit by opening my windows to take some pictures. It had starting raining a little bit and it was difficult to see through the side windows. The rain didn't last long. I kept my windows closed in the Gorongosa Reserve with the Lions and the Hwange National Park when the Rhinoceros were nearby. I was arriving at the exit when the downpour hit. The Safari Tour over.
The Interstate drive was as expected...only worse. The more I drive through various locations the more I see diverse driving habits. Even though I drove alone through the Safari Park it made me think of driving on the Interstate. Observing the animals congregate in herds and move about together reminded me of how people drive is very similar to this herd mentality. Traffic usually flows according to the leader of the pack. The thing is you never know who the leader of the pack is. It hasn't mattered where I've been along my route but people either follow the posted limit, within reason, or drive like it's the Indy 500 and the finish line is just around the corner.

This got me thinking about the different attitudes, habits, and social environment in different cities and regions.  Part of the reason I made that jump is because I started reading Origin of Species by Charles Darwin. It's a very large book with small print. I will expand on my theories once I finish reading that.
I arrived at the campground earlier than my ETA. Even with the stop and go traffic on Highway 1 south of Miami. Hmmmmmm!
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