I always love to take in the local culture of everywhere I've been.
When I was in high school in Israel, I would wear the same clothes as the Israeli kids instead of the Americans. I got into some pretty interesting places knew the back streets of Jerusalem or camped on the border just south of Lebanon.
When I was in Germany, I would wear the German hiking clothes and go on 10k and 20k volksmarches. A few times American tourists came up to me and asked for directions, starting with the phrase, “Do you speak English?”
The local culture in southwest Florida along the Tamiami Trail has a pungent odor, but that is the allure. I had to stop by the Skunk Ape Festival last Saturday. It was at Trail Lakes Campground on the Tamiami Trail, where owner David Shealy is world famous for creating the "International Skunk Ape Research Center."
David and Jack are among the last of the roadside attractions of an era past. We hope they stick around, because you cannot enjoy the local culture more than here.
I had to work, so did not get there until 5 pm. By then, and earlier rain storm scared away most of the 200 attendees. They already had the Miss Skunk Ape contest, where the beauties had to answer questions about the Skunk Ape from Shealy's own Skunk Ape Research Guide.
The band was still playing. That is Little Jack on the guitar with an audience who stayed for the entire performance. Little Jack started an awesome tour business where he will take small groups and pole them along through the Everglades in a canoe. It is low impact; no motor to break down or annoying gas fumes. Everyone who has gone says great things about it.
Billie on the base guitar with his back turned towards you is one great bar tender at the Old Marco Lodge and Crab House.
I could not help but join in on the fun.
One of the TV networks are here filming. They want to do a reality series on Shealy and searching for the Skunk Ape. But the Skunk Ape will have to take second billing, because Shealy is the more interesting character.
Forget those BFRO guys on "Finding Bigfoot" who think a bear raid on a bent-over bird feeder is sign of the Skunk Ape. Or those Cajun guys capturing those alligators that are not bothering anyone. Those two programs do not have a store where you can sit down with a coke and at the same time buy Skunk Ape t-shirts or shot glasses—Shealy does. Don't forget a gator claw back scratcher, either!
Driving home, one of the things I enjoy seeing the most is clouds over the Everglades in the evening.