There was a time during history, my retired father put on his cushy white New Balance sport shoes, khaki shorts and Florida Fishermen’s cotton t-shirt and placed me and my four-year old nephew into the back seat of a 2012 Ford Edge. We drove the two-lane stretch of US One out of Marathon and the isles of Islamorada and into Florida’s swampland for a weekend getaway of my dad’s dreams. 

My nephew and I, both being Florida-born, Florida Crackers enjoyed the endless tourism experiences the Sunshine State has to offer.

I sat in the back seat staring out of the window. I had always suffered motion sickness and this trip marked a year out of the ocean from diving the Florida Keys Wreck Trek for assignment. Even though I appeared a poster child for fitness my nervous system was shredded. 

My Dad and the family Ford station wagon

This escape to this antiquated, isolated hotel applauded on the website as “a stay for the adventured and the cultured,” (cultured to the likes of former guest Ernest Hemingway) I had already made the voyage to twice and knew my Dad would relish in the natural surroundings.

The 1800s era hostel is so hidden and reclusive city slickers are urged not to bother making reservations because they simply will not be impressed.

Back to the destination: Everglades City. During every north coast winter storm, this South Florida City will show up as the sunniest and hottest place in the nation. This charming mark is home to the Rod and Gun Club, a hotel so historic, guests are not allowed to stay inside due to fear of fire. The rooms are not up-to-code for guests to stay in.

Nearly half a dozen presidents have wintered at this gem of a getaway. Check-in is allowed only with cash at the jaws of an ancient alligator.

Old alligator skins decorate the walls to set the ambiance for the adventure that lies ahead.

Guests sleep in modern cabins equipped with air-conditioning and private porches that surround the remarkable original hotel.

My nephew outside of Cabins forty-six and forty-seven that we stayed in.

These units are for rest only.

My Dad outside of one of the modern cabins.

Regardless of the in-ground pool and pool table amenities which make most resorts extremely attractive to any child age twelve or under, an adventure of another kind awaits.

The surrounding swamp is home to exotic Florida wildlife.

Wildlife which can all be witnessed from aboard one of two modes of transport.

Airboats and The Swamp Buggy.

Airboats and ear muffs take the place of the roller coasters and Mikey Mouse ears found farther north in the state at Disney World’s Orlando theme park. Here, there aren’t any crowds and barely any pavement exists.

Piggy Back rides are the chosen mode of transport in this territory where overpriced soda, souvenirs and popsicles aren’t an issue.

Any exhaustion from alligator viewing is met with a welcome nap just like Grandpa encourages, teaches and often shows by example.

Precisely what Father’s Day is all about. Escaping the daily grind to spend time with your family making memories that last a lifetime. In this instance, we hope they cause room for adventure, followed by a good meal and much deserved nap.


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