Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Traffic Jam in the Picayune

As the Everglades continues to burn tonight, over 20,000 acres have already been scorched. Over the course of 6 days Alligator Alley, the stretch of I-75 between Naples and Fort Lauderdale, has been closed for part of if not the entire day. Smoke continues to billow across the road and today the fire jumped the interstate and began burning on the southern side of the highway. 

Traffic has been detoured to Route 80 to the north or US-41 (Tamiami Trail) to the south. The loss of tolls has been estimated to be $100,000 a day. And the level of my caring has dropped to an all time low. It's a public toll road. I won't get into double taxation here.

On Saturday Ma-Le and I drove into the Picayune Strand State Forest - an 800,000 acre area that was once slated to be one of the largest development projects in the United States. It failed and now there is a network of vestigial roads and canals that remind me of what could have been and thankfully isn't.  
The area below is about 50 square miles. Every road is absent of any structures. 
I love the Picayune. It's huge. It's remote. There's about 1 person per 10 square miles on any given day. We were hoping to get a few shots of the smoke and fires. We couldn't get close enough but as the wind shifted west, the smoke created some interesting sunset shots and offered up the sweet smell of burning palm leaves. I love that smell. From time to time the Alley has been opened to traffic as visibility permits but the traffic has been bad wherever you go in the Everglades. Despite the fact that there were 3 cars in the Picayune during our relaxing 30 mile drive I managed to get behind this guy who created our own traffic jam in the Picayune. Breathe in. Breathe out. Move on. 


  1. I like that he's driving on the left side of the road. I hope he was weaving back and forth preventing you from passing. It is sad about the fires and all of the animals that are being killed or misplaced. Any word on the panthers, are they in this area?

  2. Panthers are fine - in fact the fires burn the undergrowth - new growth erupts and Deer have food to browse. Panthers then have Deer to browse....

  3. We had to reschedule a meeting at the Panther Refuge because of lingering activities associated with the fire.