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“Storms are nature’s way of evening out the odds.”
~ Anthony T. Hincks
Just lately, I took a nostalgic journey to a spot I as soon as referred to as house and I can affirm, sure, Flamingo is open in Everglades National Park. Time and hurricanes have weathered the vacation spot and far work must be carried out. Flamingo Marina is underneath new administration, Visitor Providers, Inc., who is investing what must be executed to create a vacation spot worthy of the magnificent Everglades.
Greek mythology birthed the phoenix, a hen that lives for hundreds of years then when it dies, it regenerates and rises anew from the ashes. In my world, the Florida model of a phoenix is a flamingo. Particularly, deep in the guts of Everglades National Park, a small city referred to as Flamingo is rising from the ruins brought on by three hurricanes.
On the Finish of the Street
Accessible by way of the park’s important entrance in Homestead and on the finish of a 38-mile street on the southern tip of the Florida peninsula sits Flamingo. An outpost established in the course of the late 1800s the place Gladesmen lived off the land. As to how Flamingo earned it’s identify, I’ve heard two tales.
When it got here time to call the city, the inhabitants determined between Finish of the World as a result of it was solely accessible by water, and Flamingo. Clearly, the latter was chosen, and the 2 ideas are it was chosen both for the gorgeous, pink leggy fowl or that the resident houses on stilts reminded others of the gorgeous, pink leggy fowl. Immediately it is a vacation spot for park guests with a National Park Service (NPS) customer middle, marina with boat ramps, excursions, leases, provisions, and campground.
Situated in the nation’s largest subtropical wilderness, Flamingo offers entry to world-class fishing in Florida Bay and the Everglades backcountry together with Whitewater Bay. It is the terminus of the 99-mile Wilderness Waterway paddling path, bird-watcher’s haven, and an outdoorsman’s/outdoorswoman’s dream.
Backside: Flamingo Lodge was Razed by Early 2009 and this is What the Entrance Appears Like in 2018.
My Historical past of Flamingo Lodge and Marina
I spent greater than three years working in Flamingo for a park administration firm and departed on the finish of 2000 to start a brand new life in Sarasota. I left behind a husband and a chance few individuals dream about, dwelling in a nationwide park.
The unique Flamingo complicated opened in 1959. It included the marina, restaurant, lodge, fuel station, and NPS customer middle, was designed by NPS architect Cecil Doty. It was a part of the NPS’s Mission 66 program, a 10-year plan to increase customer providers in anticipation of its 50th anniversary in 1966.
Backside: Renovations in Progress on the National Park Service Flamingo Customer Middle in Nov. 2018.
Once I lived and labored there, it was referred to as Flamingo Lodge & Marina in Everglades National Park. About 35 individuals lived there year-round, principally employees of the park administration firm and a handful of National Park Service employees and their households. It takes a particular breed of individuals to reside there year-round. The mosquitoes are sometimes horrendous through the summer time with greater than 40 species with the salt marsh mosquito being probably the most aggressive. There is consolation in figuring out solely the feminine mosquitoes chew.
The lodge consisted of 5 lodge buildings housing a complete of 102 rooms, 24 cottages, and the primary lodge constructing the place guests checked in. The primary lodge had a breezeway with grills and swimming pool which was ultimately crammed in through the early 2000s as a result of injury to the pool and it was inexpensive to fill it in fairly than repairing it.
Backside: Flamingo Marina Retailer in Nov. 2018.
Hurricanes Change the Customer Expertise
I started working seasonally in Flamingo in the mid-90s, a number of years following 1992’s Hurricane Andrew. Though Flamingo was barely impacted by the Class 5 storm, different areas of the park have been, together with the doorway. It’s my understanding, the park administration firm’s contract was up and quite than sending out a request for proposal for a brand new, long-term contract, the National Park Service was occupied with restoration efforts and granted a brief contract extension. Then one other brief extension. And one other.
For no matter purpose, the NPS issued short-term contracts with the park administration firm which means the corporate didn’t need to make vital repairs to infrastructure if a return on funding was not assured. The best way to ensure an ROI was a long-term contract.
Backside: Racks are Filled with Canoes and Kayaks to Lease at Flamingo Marina, Nov. 2018.
The amenities opened in 1959 and though they’re the property of the National Park Service, the park administration firm takes some duty in sustaining amenities they handle. This typically meant placing on bandages to carry issues collectively versus changing it. Or, buying used gadgets fairly than new ones.
The summer time of 2005, hurricanes Katrina and Wilma ripped by means of Flamingo with damaging winds and storm surge. What was as soon as a thriving day-trip and in a single day facility was almost destroyed. I had lived and labored in the lodge and as a result of vital injury, it was razed in 2009. In the present day, nature has reclaimed the world with grass, timber, and wildlife.
My former husband handed away unexpectedly in 2008 and I made the journey to say goodbye. It was a heartbreaking go to and the brilliant spot was seeing how the power tailored and have become a day-use space with restricted customer providers. Hurricane Irma hit in September 2017 and as soon as once more, Flamingo was broken and customer providers have been closed.
Backside: A Model New Houseboat Sits on the Backcountry Aspect of the Flamingo Marina and Prepared for In a single day and Dockside Leases. Nov. 2018
A New Period for Flamingo
November 15, 2017, Visitor Providers, Inc., entered a 20-year contract with the NPS to function customer providers at Flamingo and Lengthy Pine Key Campground. GIS, working as Flamingo Adventures at Everglades National Park, provides guests a number of providers and actions to reinforce their expertise. And, based mostly on the brand new facilities and renovations they’ve already achieved inside a yr, they’re critical.
These sightseeing journeys into the backcountry and up the Buttonwood Canal on a brand new boat referred to as the Bald Eagle II and Florida Bay journeys on a brand new, two-story boat referred to as the Sea Hawk, every accommodating 49 passengers. Kayak, canoe, and pontoon boat leases can be found together with houseboat leases in model new boats. Bicycles can be found, too. New gasoline tanks have been put in and gasoline service is obtainable, though expensive, someplace round $four+ per gallon.
Backside: A Meals Truck on the Flamingo Marina Retailer Serves Scorching and Recent Meals. Nov. 2018
The marina retailer has been renovated and is stocked with wants for anglers, adventurers and campers together with frozen bait, meals, and souvenirs. A meals truck serves scorching meals. GSI manages the Flamingo Campground for tent tenting in A Loop, the walk-in space and group tenting and T-Loop for leisure automobiles. The remaining rooms have showers and powered by photo voltaic panels. Tent websites embrace hearth rings and picnic tables.
Anticipated the primary quarter of 2019 is the opening of 20 eco-tents close to the group tenting space. Models can be on platforms and decked out with snug facilities together with mattress strains and shall be close to relaxation rooms. A Flamingo Lodge and Cottage Campus is the works in the situation of the unique Flamingo Lodge. It can include 24 elevated cottages constructed with 100 % recyclable metal delivery containers on strengthened concrete buildings. Cottages may have views of Florida Bay and trendy facilities together with electrical energy, water, VOIP telephone, and high-speed web.
Backside: The New Bald Eagle II Sits on the Backcountry Aspect of the Flamingo Marina (the First Bald Eagle was on the Florida Bay Aspect) Nov. 2018
A four,000-square-foot multiuse facility will home a 60-seat restaurant and bar, present store, registration desk, relaxation rooms, and telephone charging station. The design will incorporate Mission 66 and Miami Trendy structure.
The National Park Service Flamingo Customer Middle is present process renovations with an anticipated completion date in the early 2020s. A short lived customer middle is situated in the garden in entrance of the unique customer middle full with clear relaxation rooms. Interpretive rangers supply instructional packages at numerous occasions all through the day.
Throughout my November go to, the complete moon’s glow lit my approach as I walked by means of the campground. From time to time I ended to admire the moon rising over Florida Bay whereas listening to the excitement of chirping bugs. An intoxicating scent from the blooming moonflowers, like scents of jasmine and citrus blossoms, mixed with a touch of the earthy notes of the River of Grass, perfumed the air. The night was near-perfect, and I cried.
Over the course of almost 25 years I’ve seen the great thing about Flamingo however extra typically, I’ve seen it battered and bruised. I’ve skilled nice unhappiness in the Everglades. My tears that night time have been for the peace in figuring out Flamingo is regenerating and rising into one thing stronger and extra lovely. Others could have a chance see what journalist and conservationist Marjory Stoneman Douglas noticed, “There are no other Everglades in the world.”
View further pictures from my November 2018 go to to Flamingo in Everglades National Park on my Flickr stream.
Pinky-Eager at Flamingo in Everglades National Park, Might 23, 2011
Bittersweet Return to Flamingo Lodge in Everglades National Park, Might 27, 2011
Extra Pictures from Flamingo in Everglades National Park, Might 29, 2011
Nuts & Bolts About Visiting Flamingo in Everglades National Park
Flamingo Adventures at Everglades National Park
1 Flamingo Lodge Hwy.
Homestead, Fla. 33034
Tel: (855) 708-2207
The Marina Retailer is open 9 a.m. – 7 p.m. day by day. Boat excursions are provided all through the day. It is suggested to ebook reservations in advance for boat excursions and the campground. Cellular phone service is restricted however AT&T service is wonderful in Flamingo.
Admission into Everglades National Park is further.
Efficient January 10, 2019, Everglades National Park entrance charges will improve to offer further funding for infrastructure and upkeep wants to reinforce the customer expertise.
Entrance charges for car or vessel: $30
Entrance payment per motorbike: $25
Entrance charge per pedestrian/bike owner/human-powered paddle-craft: $15
Annual park cross: $55
Admission is free for America the Lovely Move Holders
Disclosure: This submit incorporates affiliate hyperlinks to help this weblog, my touring behavior, and my special-needs canine.