You can take the GRITS out of Florida, but you can't take Florida out of the GRITS!

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Searching for ghosts...

The other day, I received a message on myspace from a woman who had read something I wrote about Loop Road a while ago. She said it brough back memories...her grandparents used to live out there and she would spend each summer with them. She told me her aunt used to own the infamous "Gator Hook" bar and that she remembers sitting on Irv Rouse's lap. Irv Rouse wrote the "Orange Blossom Special" and lived off Loop Road.



Then she told me something I've always wanted to know...the location of the ruins of Al Capone's mansion. From googling, I've known that all that's left are some step and remains of a fountain, but I have always wanted to see them. Saturday was a beautiful day, and despite having a nasty cold, we decided to set out in search of the ghost of a gangster!




Tamiami Trail heading west.



Getting to Loop Road, you pass quite a few Miccosukee Indian homes. If you think this is colorful, you haven't seen the lime green one on Loop Rd.! Seriously, it is lime green.




We decided to hit the Loop via the western entrance at Monroe Station.

The picture below shows how it used to look. The print underneath says it is still an oasis for travellers, but obviously it ain't true anymore!
Warning for tourists (and stupid locals).



You can tell it's winter. The cypress trees are all brown and bare instead of their usual lush green.



This is one trail I'd like to explore more one day.




More alligator warnings and a poster reminding idiots it's against the law to release non-native reptiles. Pythons, Boas and the occasional Anaconda are becoming a big problem in the Everglades.



Sweetwater Strand. My dinky little camera just can't capture the true beauty of this spot.



This is why there are so many warnings posted. Roadside gators. There were a few German tourists pulled over taking pics of these two sunning themselves, so of course I had to take a few myself. Say what you want, but I think they are cute! Not cuddly cute, but stay at least 12 feet away cute...





He missed most of the gators.




In the ghost town of Pinecrest, there are still a few hold-outs. They live out there for a reason. To be left alone. And they make sure you know it!





You can't read this sign, but we have now gone from gator warnings to panther warnings. "Do not hike alone" "Keep small children close and supervised at all times" etc.




The only sign that Pinecrest was once an actual town...well, kinda sorta. These pumps do not work and the gas station is on private property. In fact, there was an old man sitting in a lawn chair a few yards from here shooting. Yeah, he was just shooting at a target, but it spoke volumes..."I may be old, but this is my place and I've got a gun and I know how to use it! See, I can hit the target!!! So don't get any ideas..."



Ya think this has been parked here for a while?



Very close to the gas station, there is a side road that we'd never ventured down before. This time we did. From the description given to me, this was how you get to the ruins. We drove down a very long rock road. It was quiet and peaceful. I imagined what it must've been like to live back here in the 30's or 40's...and how awesome it would be to live here now. We only passed one or two "dwellings". Then we came to a fork in the road. We took the road to the right and came to this imposing stack of signage...



There was a pole gate that was open, but were not feeling comfortable enough to go any further. If I had seen someone around, I would've asked about Capone's place and if we could take a look. But it was very...very...quiet. I am sure this is where they are, though.


A shot of the road...



Proof that folks really do live out here!






So we didn't actually accomplish our mission, but we came close. We had a nice, relaxing drive on a road few have driven on. We saw gators, hawks, ibis, herons, egrets, cormorants, anhingas and a few German tourists. It was a good day.

13 comments:

Sandcastle Momma said...

What an incredible day! I love hunts like this one and it looks like you really had fun.
I'm coming down there one day and we'll see about sneaking past that sign! LOL

ChrisB said...

Shame you didn't reach your goal but it certainly looked like a great day out. I love all the photos you took.

SwampAngel65 said...

Just let me know when you're ready for a road trip, Ann! We'd have a blast!!

misti said...

Ah! You made it down Jim Dill Road! ;) I will ask about the Al Capone thing. I know someone who lives on LR.

Johnny said...

Wow, what memories you bring back… I lived in Naples for about 3yrs; spent a lot of time on Loop Rd. What a fantastic place Collier County is with access to the Ten-Thousand Islands, Everglades NP, Big Cypress Preserve, Fakahatchee Preserve, Picayune Strand and Panther NWR.

I’ve got to plan a trip!

Anonymous said...

When I was younger you never would have convinced me that I'd miss going to get the mail. I talked to my granny yesterday and her recollection of where the steps are and mine differ. I think it was back where all those signs were. I think she was saying that they were behind Jack Gove's which is where the gas station is/was. She and my papa want to come down for a visit. Maybe I can get my papa to tell stories and invite some people out.

Anonymous said...

When I was younger you never would have convinced me that I'd miss going to get the mail. I talked to my granny yesterday and her recollection of where the steps are and mine differ. I think it was back where all those signs were. I think she was saying that they were behind Jack Gove's which is where the gas station is/was. She and my papa want to come down for a visit. Maybe I can get my papa to tell stories and invite some people out.

SwampAngel65 said...

That'd be fun to be able to go out there with your grandparents! They must know some of the folks that still live out there. Whether Capone's is somewhere behind the gas station, or down Jim Dill...it's the fun of looking for them, kind of like "the thrill of the hunt" I guess. One of these days I WILL see them! I just put it on my Bucket List! hehehehe!!!

exoticdvm said...

Love the new blog look! This looks like a really interesting adventure down Loop Road. Thanks for sharing a bit of history from a really interesting area! Where is that Gator Hook trail?

Anonymous said...

The new pic looks like one of those paint by number pic glad you included the photo that you used to make it

Anonymous said...

It isn't behind the gas station. Jack Gove used to stay in a trailer that is by the gas station, but he also owned the property behind the gate. It is back beyond the gate. I'm glad I called my granny to clarify and I was correct the first time. Phew, thought I was losing what is left of my brain.

lisaschaos said...

I have got to get down there and hang out with you for a while! :) you have such fun outings!

Guess what I got in the mail! Yummy! My husband has hidden it from me. :)

Floridacracker said...

Thanks for taking us along. I rangered that area with the NPS in the 80's and I love seeing pics of it.