Today I left Everglades City early and headed east on the Tamiami Trail. As usual, I noodled around, arriving at Clyde Butcher’s gallery around 10:15.
First, a few of the sights along the way.
Smallest post office in the US.
A sign we don’t see in Arizona!
Another anhinga drying its wings.
A bird I don’t know, but I love the way he could twist his neck.
First, let me say this man (Clyde Butcher) is a wonderful photographer. He uses film, shoots in black and white, and mostly photographs the Everglades area. I’ve been looking forward to a visit to his gallery for months. However, I was somewhat disappointed.
I do have to say that when I stepped inside, it was stunningly wonderful. One of his prints, about four by six, hung on the wall facing the door. Four by six. Feet, not inches. Absolutely stunning.
What was disappointing, though, was how little of his work hung in the gallery. Yes, he had many photos. But there was work by other artists and a gift shop containing t-shirts, work by others, and his books, calendars and notecards all in a small space.
Most of his photos, rather than being on the walls, were matted and in bins with price tags. I had expected more gallery and fewer bins. Though the majority of his prints were under $80 or so, prices ran to nearly $900.
A second disappointment was the nature trail behind the gallery. I’d looked forward to it but it was quite small. I could have very easily walked it in about two minutes. Also, I’d expected educational information, but none of the plants were labeled.
Another thing. As I left, I gazed over at the water fountain on the front porch. It had an “out of order” sign on it, so anyone who was thirsty had to purchase water or soda.
Finally, the parking lot bothered me. There were numerous signs telling visitors what not to do and announcing fines levied. No feeding alligators, no parking here or there, no putting trash in the gallery’s dumpster. Now, that information is good and maybe even important, but it made the place feel unwelcoming. I mention this last, but it was the first thing I noticed. To me, it seems the visitor should feel immediately welcomed rather than warned and threatened. It was very off-putting.
Bottom line, though, I loved seeing his work.
On from there, into driving rain that stopped, started, then stopped again for the next hour. South through agricultural land and more off and on rain.
Sign in the field across from the workers. Too poisonous to touch, but not too poisonous for them to pick and us to eat?
Then across a few bridges to Key Largo.
Key Largo is, of course, the largest of the islands. The name “Key” actually came from the Spanish word “cayo” which means little island. The road from Key Largo to the tip of Key West is about one hundred miles long and has forty-two bridges!
Key Largo is about twenty-four miles long and is often referred to as the Dive Capital of the World because of its beautiful natural reefs (the only coral reefs in North America). In addition, there’s a huge variety of marine life and even sunken ships for divers to explore.
And more signs we don’t see in the desert.
After roaming a bit, I settled into a great lunch at the Key Largo Conch House. It was right on the highway but nestled into trees, making it almost invisible from the road.
Café Cubano, black bean-mango salad, and lobster bisque. Perfect choices all.
As I left the restaurant, I noticed a thank you award from a place called Island Dolphin Care. I asked the waitress about it and she gave me information as well as clear instructions to get there.
Out the door I went, straight to Island Dolphin Care (see a future blog posting for more about this).
After a visit with the dolphins, I settled into my motel where I had to wrestle with the internet before I could get connected. And for some reason, it will give me my email but it won’t let me send a thing.
On the plus side, the room is fine, the bed comfortable. And two doors down is a Cuban Café!