Tag Archives: Everglades

Two Great Things To Do in Everglades National Park

A bunch of our friends joined us for a day trip to Everglades NP. The two targets were a short drive from the southwest Miami county RV park. Our first visit was to the NIKE Missile Base for their free tour. Debbie and I did this a few years ago when we stayed in Okeechobee for two months. It was fascinating then and we were happy to return. The big surprise on this year’s tour is the addition of a completely restored NIKE missile.

picture of restored NIKE missile

NIKE missile base tour is a must do

Our tour guide, Kirk, was the same guide as at our last visit. He was just as good as before. Kirk really knows his material and projects a great feel for the cold war period events. We walked and listened to Kirk, then drove to the missile barns where we saw the new NIKE missile. A local group located and restored a NIKE missile for this exhibit. It really improves the talk and our understanding of what the airmen went through for each launch preparation.

Picture of vulture warning sign

A stark warning against potential damage

We picnicked at Long Pine Key State Park under beautiful skies then took a short drive to Royal Palms State Park. Although we found it difficult to believe, there have apparently been some expensive vulture attacks on parked cars at Royal Palms since our last visit.

picture of tarp on car to stop vultures

Vulture-proofing Herb’s car at Royal Palms

A large footlocker by the visitor’s center parking lot provides blue tarps and bungee cords to cover your car’s windshield trim, windshield wipers, and side view mirrors. The car of a friend of ours was “vulture-damaged” last year. Can you believe $1,200 damage to the windshield trim and the windshield wipers? Debbie and Herb take a few minutes to securely cover Herb’s car. They don’t have to do a great job, just better than the adjacent cars.

picture of laughing alligator

Laughing alligator

Royal Palms is a fun place to walk about. There are tons of alligators and colorful birds near the walk paths and raised wood deck areas. This alligator seemed to be smiling or laughing when we walked by. Or maybe he thought we looked pretty tasty?

picture of neat bird at Royal Palms

Very cool bird at Royal Palms

This bird was sitting on the deck railing as we walked by. I was within three feet of him for several minutes waiting for him to smile. He didn’t, but he did turn nicely and pose for this profile. Doesn’t he have great coloring on his neck and around his eye?

The NIKE missile base tour and a visit to Royal Palms State Park are entertaining and educational. Two visits to each give us a good feel for the venues. The birds and gators at Royal Palms change by the minute. And the historic site group supporting the NIKE missile site is doing a nice job updating their exhibits. We will look forward to a return in the future.

We spent a day in Hollywood, a day at South Beach, and a day in Everglades National Park. Are we at any risk of running out of appealing attractions in Miami? There are plenty more things we want to do! We haven’t visited the Metro Zoo, Biscayne National Park, Vizcaya Museum and Gardens, or Coral Castle, just to name a few of the must-see things in the area. And we haven’t explored downtown Miami. Let’s return to Miami in 2014!

Jim and Debbie
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Recent Attack on Nike Missile Site

attackers defaced this missile assembly building

attackers defaced this missile assembly building

An unknown number of attackers recently infiltrated NIKE Missile Site HM-69, near Homestead AFB. They recklessly entered area despite heavy security and counter-measures. The only reported losses are to the integrity of this gallant memorial to the Cold War. The punks apparently sprayed graffiti at several locations in a remote area of the former missile site. Plans are underway to increase surveillance and repair the damage.

Ranger describes the purpose of the launch bunker

Ranger describes the purpose of the launch bunker

The ICBM program was anchored at this outpost, deep within the Everglades National Park. Nowhere was the NIKE Missile defense so engaged and tested as at HM-69, according to our tour guide, Kirk Singer, Captain, USMC Ret’d. Captain Singer provided an excellent narrated tour of the missile site, showing us the missile assembly building, the three missile barns, and the launch pads.

Visitors expressed shock and outrage at this vandalism. Most of the visitors grew up well aware of the Cold War and appreciate the service valiantly given by the servicemen. A half-dozen of the men in our party served in the U.S. Armed Forces during that tense period. Several of the visitors were actively engaged in some facet of the U.S. air defense forces.

A highly suitable perimeter defense agent

A highly suitable perimeter defense agent

We all left with a greater appreciation for the training and duties carried out by our Armed Forces. And we carry an increased disappointment and anger toward misguided souls who express their art on national monuments. Maybe a well-stocked moat around the missile site would work? Hey punks, look who’s waiting for you!

Gorgeous Great Blue Heron

Gorgeous Great Blue Heron

There are more photos from our visit today to the Nike Missile Site and from the Everglades National Park. See the rest of our photos from today’s trip here.