The fabled Coral Castle, meh Monkey Jungle and a Buggy ride through the Swamp

I often frustrate myself with my own internal paradoxes. I am a very social creature, but at the same time am also very fond of being alone.  There have been many times where I’ve wished that I’ve had somebody riding with me on this trip to share the experience directly with somebody that I cared about – and yet, I’m happy that I’m doing this alone. There’s a great deal that I’m learning about myself – what I want, what I need, what I can keep and what I can let go of. This is my walkabout; my time of internal searching and learning, and yet I’m also running around the country taking pictures of enormous man made lobster sculptures and other bizarre tourist trap type things. It’s a fairly bizarre combination of experiences, but hey – it works. I’ve planned things fairly minimally, so the rest is somewhat chaotic, keeping me on my toes and therefore keeping me from getting bored and disappointed.

I’m finding that I need a certain amount of chaos in my life to function without sliding into depression.

In the past, I’ve tried a couple of antidepressants, but they only make me nominal – allowing me to push the button that makes the paycheck come out that I try to keep myself entertained with. I don’t really feel much of anything on them, and it just makes me a good little worker monkey that exists for the sole purpose of working. I got tired of living in a beige box, so I broke out. Although living in the back of a conversion van isn’t easy, it’s been wonderfully liberating and educational.

It definitely ain’t boring. 🙂

Onward to the trip report.

Friday night, I drove out to Fort Lauderdale beach. It was my intention to hook up with a Facebook friend that I hadn’t met yet IRL. He doesn’t get off work until after midnight, so I did a little walking on the beach and in the water before heading back to the van and tucking in to sleep for a few hours in the parking lot so that I wouldn’t beg off again like I did last weekend due to sleepiness. He called at about 12:30, and I suggested that we meet at the Wreck Bar in the Sheraton, not knowing that it closed around 11pm until after I walked over to it. I then suggested another bar nearby and headed over there.

In the makeshift courtyard sat statues of Jake and Elwood Blues, which kinda made me go, “Huh?” I shrugged and headed over to a table in the courtyard where I could be easily seen, and struck up a small conversation with a couple at a table next to me. We chatted a little until my friend showed up, and then he and I started talking about metaphysical stuff. Next thing we know, it’s 4am and starting to get a little cold on the beach (we’d since driven to an awesome pizza place, then taken a walk on the beach). It was a GOOD conversation that completely made my night. Deciding that it was probably time to head off in our respective directions, we parted ways and I ended up back at the 595 Truck Rest Stop at about 4:30.

Once again, great place to sleep, good food, friendly staff. Unfortunately, I could only sleep until about 9:45am until the truck became too hot to sleep in.

I then got some food in me, while watching a show about serial killers. One of the waitresses explained that she turned the show on because it irritated the shit out of the other waitress, then we laughed conspiratorially. They’re all really cool, friendly ladies there. After a couple of trips to find a portable air conditioning unit that got me nowhere, I headed down to Homestead, FL to check out Coral Castle (PICS).

Coral Castle Museum – Homestead, FL

For those unfamiliar, Coral Castle is a stone structure built by diminutive Latvian American eccentric Edward Leedskalnin. It remains a mystery as to exactly how ‘Ed’ got these enormous limestone coral stones into place – much less how he moved them from the original location in Florida City to their current location in Homestead. He refused to let anybody watch him while he did the actual moving and placement of the stones

Coral Castle Museum – Homestead, FL

There are some who claim that Ed used mystical means to move the stones, and others that claim that there is a resonance in the monument itself. The place is peaceful, very relaxing and inviting to look at. The constructed stone furniture is surprisingly comfortable. It has a really neat ‘otherworldly’ feel to it.

Ahh… meeting new friends.

During my walk around the grounds, I encountered two guys that had purchased these rubber horseheads from amazon.com. One had a regular brown horsehead and the other a white unicorn head. They asked me if I’d take pictures of them whilst they cavorted with the heads on, and I agreed, laughing. They explained that they’d been trying to get other people to take pictures of them, but nobody would do it. They figured I’d be up for it, and they were right. 🙂 I did, however, have one condition.

Coral Castle Museum – Homestead, FL

A couple of months ago, I recounted a story on Facebook about how I’d encountered a little girl in a McDonalds at about four in the morning. Being that I was exhausted, I was EXTREMELY punchy – and so when she said that she liked me hair and asked me how I got it that way, I explained, “I ate a unicorn. Yep. Ate him all up.”

The shame…the SHAME of a unicorn trysting with a horse

At first, she had looked confused, then as confusion slowly turned to discomfort, her sister took her hand and led her off to the bathroom. I explained this event to the guys, then said that I wanted a picture of one of them in the unicorn mask looking over at me with a terrified look. After they stopped laughing, they agreed and an indelible moment in trip history was made.

Ah, Coral Castle – what madness hath been wrought? Admission was $15 to get in. WORTH. EVERY. PENNY. Seriously. If you ever get down Miami way and can squeeze in a trip to Coral Castle – DO IT.

MISSION ACCOMPLISHED.

Next, as I meandered my way back to Miami, I stopped off at Monkey Jungle – “Where Humans are Caged and Monkeys Run Wild!” Sadly, it was too late to do the Orangutan Hangout. 😦

Monkey Jungle – Miami, FL

If I’m being honest, the entrance fee wasn’t really worth it. Sure, you get to see monkeys running around – but lots of them ARE in cages, as are the birds and other things. The only monkeys running free were small macaques. There were these little steel bowls on chains that you could put food into, and the macaques would pull the food up to them and pick it out of them. I really loved some of the trees, but felt bad for the monkeys that had to endure children yelling at them to do stupid things.

grooming macaques

Still – there are pics and vids.

Sunday afternoon, I took a Swamp Buggy ride, and while it was semi interesting, I think I would have far preferred the airboat ride.

It was a fairly mild weekend, and I’ve relaxed through a lot of it. Next weekend I may look at relocating up in northern florida for the week so that I can get to St. Augustine and Cape Canaveral. We’ll see.

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2 thoughts on “The fabled Coral Castle, meh Monkey Jungle and a Buggy ride through the Swamp

  1. Beautiful!! Amazing craftsmanship! Love the planets. Dude was definitely tuned in.

    The landscape planting of bromeliads, bougainvellia (< that's not spelled right), and staghorn fern are lovely. I'll have to be content to grow them in the greenhouse.

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