Miami. The city of magic, fun and beautiful people. We came to see what it was all about, but didn’t quite get to experience all it had to offer… Our port of call was Miami Everglades RV Resort, located about 40 minutes south of the city. The resort was large, with many offerings…a pool, plenty of RV and tent sites, dog park, shuffle board, volley ball, etc. It was clean and well maintained, but definitely not our cup of tea.
As I have stated before, our preference is almost always to stay in state a park. They may not offer a ton of amenities, but they are usually quiet, private and have a serene beauty to them. The same can’t really be said about this RV park, with each rig parked almost just an arm’s length from each other. And while it was very tidy, there wasn’t much in the way of ambiance. But it was the only place open when we started booking places a few months ago, so we made do.
The plan was to visit the city, taking in all it had to offer, by way of an on & off bus tour. The day after we arrived was mostly cloudy and downright cold. Not the best weather for a romp around town. But we were itching for something to do so we decided to take a drive over and check out Miami’s famous South Beach. Without going into to much detail I will tell you what we learned along the way. Getting to and from Miami…just. plain. sucks. Unlike my current residence of Philadelphia, with it’s many many interstates leading to and through the city, Miami only really has one quick route (I-95) and then it turns into a highway (route 1) just as you leave downtown heading south. This road is awful. It is full of traffic, traffic lights and more traffic. It took well over an hour to get to our destination and even longer to return home. Traveling in southern FL isn’t new to us, but we always avoided Miami by taking the Florida Turnpike around the city.
We finally made it to the beach which was mostly vacant due to the chilly weather. It was quite a site to see, with the vast expanse of crystal clear water and the stark background of numerous condos towering behind. Even when driving through the city to get to South Beach I noticed the overwhelming amount of condo towers. Condos, condos, everywhere!
Eventually we made it back to the RV park we decided to skip going back to Miami for the tour. Neither of us felt like battling traffic. We talked about taking the train in, but when we looked at the weather for the next few days, with the continued chilly temps and showers, it just didn’t seem worth it. Instead we stayed busy doing fun things like laundry, letting the dogs romp in the dog park and giving them much needed baths.
And visiting Monkey Jungle… This ‘Jungle’ was actually less than 10 minutes from the RV Park had been on my radar since we made plans to visit the area. The website states that you basically walk through the Jungle in an enclosure while the monkeys ran free all around you. I thought that sounded pretty rad and knew we just had to check it out.
We decided to pay an extra fee to do a tour where you would be able to get up close and personal with the monkeys. During the tour, our guide explained how Monkey Jungle got started. I am terrible at paying attention and my memory stinks but I think it pretty much goes like this… A guy that lived there had about 8 monkeys. He let them run all around the area (30 acres, give or take) and act like monkeys. People would stop on the side of the road to check the out the furry little creatures and feed them. The 8 monkeys multiplied, as animals do when left to their own devices, and soon his land was crawling with monkeys. And people kept coming. So, like all good entrepreneurs, this dude said ‘Hey! I bet I could make a buck or two off of this. ‘”You there!…good people who want to see my monkeys! Why stand on the side of the road trying to get a look when you can come on in and check them out up close!” For a measly fee of course…’ And so Monkey Jungle was born. The guide also explained that there were now over 100 monkeys running around, with about 5 or 6 troops ruled by the bosses. We continued our tour into a locked area locked area of the Jungle, where we were let loose with handfuls of delicious treats (nuts & berries) for the little monkeys to feast on. And feast they did. I spent the majority of the time shooting video and taking photos, while Fran had a blast feeding the monkeys and allowing them to climb on her. Our guide prepped us before we went in on the do’s and don’ts. Basically, if you want them to climb on you, you would stick on arm out while holding the treats further away, which draws them to the food and onto your shoulder. The don’ts were pretty much common sense…Don’t step on them, grab them or in any way threaten them, or you could end up with a nasty bite.
After Fran had her fill of monkeys it was time to for me to try some monkey wranglin’. I handed the camera over to Fran (a very rare occurrence) and explained she just needed to hold the shutter button down, it and the camera would take continuous shots. Anyone who knows me has a good understanding that I am an avid animal lover. Big, small, furry or naked…I love them all. But I have to admit I was a little jittery around these monkeys. I have no idea why. They were adorable, docile, and had the softest little feet and hands. I think I was just afraid of being overrun by them. So there I was, feeling a bit nervous when a lil dude hopped onto my hand. I was surprised how light and nimble he was. He sat there for a while eating the nut mix and I couldn’t help but think “I’d love to have a lil monkey of my own…” This isn’t really a new thought. When I was younger I wanted a monkey…or two. Along with a horse, pig and elephant. But as an adult I realized, apart from the occasional millisecond of longing, I seriously didn’t think that’d be the best of ideas.
Lil dude continued to nibble on the treats and I noticed out of the corner of my eye another guy (or possibly girl) approaching. I didn’t think much of it until it leaped and landed on the edge of my hand. Fran, in the meantime, was standing there snapping away with the camera. And during that time, caught what we both agree has got to be one of the funniest shots of me, ever.
I am just a wee bit surprised, ya? I didn’t think I would post this photo, it’s not exactly flattering, but I find it quite hilarious and wanted to share it with you, dear readers. Everyone needs to laugh at themselves now and then, ya know? After spending time with the little monkeys, our tour was over and we were left to explore the rest of the park where we got to meet and orangutan and a gorilla.
Further into the Jungle, you can continue to feed the monkeys, though it is not as intimate as the tour we did. Throughout the enclosures, they have stainless steel bowls attached to wire chains that are hung from the top of the enclosure. At the top is a small opening, just big enough for a monkey to grab food. So, you put the food in the bowl, monkey pulls bowl up and then feasts on the yumminess. Fran was like a little kid…dropping treats into the bowl, watching the monkeys pull it up and then smiling from ear to ear. I think she could have done it all day long. I actually had some free time to put together a quick video of the monkey footage I shot…
All in all, we had a good time at Monkey Jungle. I do wish that our ‘backstage tour’ would have been a bit longer for the price we paid, though I still think it was worth it. The entire Jungle can be walked through in less than an hour if you scurry along, but there are a couple shows to see (meet the orangutan & gorilla) that extend the trip. After a fun filled day, we headed back to pack up and get ready for our next destination.
We enjoyed our stay in the Miami area despite the cold weather. I feel like that is the new theme now “…despite the cold weather”. But I will say this…We hit the road a couple days ago and are finally enjoying some really amazing weather in our new spot. Where? Here’s a little preview…