And ain’t no night darker than a clear moonless night in the Everglades!

Got an e-mail that the presser had been moved up a bit, so we’re startin’ out early just in case they move the schedule up again. “We” has become a small fleet of Ural ‘hacks, as word got around the greater Everglades Ural social media of our exploits. So well fed and stone cold sober (at our age, we need all the help we can get), we’re heading off on the not so short ride to the far south end of Everglades Boulevard South. Now the direct route would be eastbound on Alligator Alley from Naples and hang a right at the tight exit for Everglades Boulevard, but you’re only allowed to do that if your a VIP like the ready mix truck drivers making continual deliveries to the huge pump station they’re building that’s supposed to flood this chunk of the ‘glades and turn it back into it’s natural swamp self.

So we head north then east, the road narrowing from 6 to 4 and now 2 lanes as the traffic disappears. Stop by the last stop light at the last gas station to top up, unusually busy for this late at night out here. Good thing we’d already eaten, ’cause both the Cuban sandwich shop and the Subway were pretty well cleaned out. Finally we turn south on Everglades Boulevard, past the last streetlight and into the darkness. As the road drops from ten feet above sea level downward, the lights get fewer and fewer. But what’s that noise overhead… Is that a jet? But the drug smugglers usually flew in from the south…

After miles of flatness, the road rises for the overpass over Alligator Alley. We stop for a moment at what is the highest spot for miles, watching the traffic perpendicular to us, the freeway so straight and sea level flat that one can see for miles. Just then we hear the rush of another southbound jet overhead, and not even a moment later the jet emerges from the darkness as they switch on the portable daylight at weedtop level. Now Everglades Boulevard can handle a DC-3, and served as an impromptu airstrip for the abandoned Golden Gate Estates real estate scam in the 60s and later for drug smugglers. But since when did they get equipped for instrument landings?

Not even a mile south of Alligator Alley is a 4 way stop, and Everglades Boulevard from here south to who knows where is closed for construction… Even got a gate and guard just to make sure you don’t sneak around the barricades. We start to take a right as directed by the detour signs, when the guard waves us over to the gate. Show him the invite, he complements us on our “nice BMW”, and he opens the gate with an admonishment to “Y’ll hurry up, gonna have another plane landing in a couple minutes”! But the road is a rough, heavy machinery beaten one. But what’s this ahead…brand new concrete, and wide enough to darn near land an An-225! Seems like there may be a bit more than a swamp restoration project going on here…

Just noticed that the Urals behind us haven’t been through the gate yet… Maybe the current Russian unrest has chilled relations with anything remotely Russian a bit, even a beyond obsolete hack’d BMW clone. So we’ve cut the lights and ducked down one of the hundreds of side roads in this abandoned development…

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