Category Archives: Seminole Reservation

Other Towns in Central Florida Offer Out-of-the-Ordinary Entertainment

Central Florida, From Fisheating Creek to the Brighton Seminole Reservation

We drove around Lake Okeechobee, enjoying the expansive views of the leading edge of the Florida Everglades. The sky is big in Florida, and the swamp stretches for mile after desolate mile, broken only by a cluster of live oaks or staked out individually by independent palm trees, whose round heads and lack of branches look very much like landscaped lollypops from a distance. The weather was clearing, but clouds still hung over the land like a dark umbrella bent on betrayal and we drove in and out of rain.

The larger towns in this part of central Florida have the usual chain motels, but most lodging offerings consist of RVs or trailers, some quite weary looking. Campers who don’t mind roughing it will have no trouble finding suitable lodging, but those looking for a little more comfort will have to dig a little deeper. We did find a few cabins. The most inviting were cozy log cabins with peaked roofs in a small enclave. One of the owners rents two of his units, #9 and #17, for around $500 per week. If you’re interested, call Abe at 561-234-0277. A future visit will most assuredly include a week at the Lake Okeechobee Resort in Pahokee. It is the only place with accommodations directly on the lake.

We made a stop at Fisheating Creek where I told my husband the story of my great-great grandmother who was taken (along with her kids) to Fort Myers by Union soldiers trying to flush out my great-great-grandfather who was aiding Confederate soldiers by bringing them cattle. She became disgusted with camp conditions and threatened to whip the soldier who tried to stop her from leaving. She went to her brother’s place on Fisheating Creek and stayed there until the War of Northern Aggression was over. I think I would have liked my great-great-grandmother. :)

The Seminole Indian Reservation in Brighton was a disappointment. No museum, no shopping, just gambling. The room was dark, filled with slot machines that flashed neon colors, and full of cigarette smoke. Once off the reservation, we stopped at a roadside stand and bought swamp cabbage. I look forward to breaking the trunk open and cooking up a pot of swamp cabbage, which tastes a lot like asparagus.

Brighton Seminole Reservation

Most of the central Florida towns around the perimeter of Lake Okeechobee offer airboat rides. Since the weather was bad the weekend of our visit, we decided against it, but if you’ve never been, I strongly encourage you to try it out. Most tours last about an hour, the cost is in the $30 to $40 range (per person) and includes picture stops. Airboat rides are exciting and fun, but not scary.

The Seminole Reservation

No Trip to the Everglades Would be Complete Without a Visit to the Seminole Reservation

The Billie Swamp Safari on 41 offers about the same things as the Big Cypress Seminole reservation on I-75, but the airboat rides are cheaper and longer. I stopped at a roadside stand and bought some sugar cane juice to take home to my mother, a third generation Florida Cracker, who was under my care at a nursing home for dementia at the time. I also purchased a Seminole cornhusk doll, just like the ones she used to buy me when I was a little girl. She was very pleased with both surprises.

We saw numerous Chickee Chobees:

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Most Seminole homes have at least one in their yards. The fanciest shelters have are enclosed or at least screened, others are nothing more than four posts and a roof. These were available for rent for $35 per night, but that price may have changed. I was quite taken with the thatched roof:

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One of the guides (who informed my husband that I was a very cool lady, which I’ve been saying for years), explained the thatching process for me, so guess what one of my NEXT projects is? I’ve decided to make a chickee for Baby Blue, my 2003 Thunderbird, to park under. The first palm fronds are folded in half and then nailed to the pole frame:

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I spent many wonderful hours in the shops and highly recommend the AhTahThiKi (it means “a place to learn”) museum. I thought about buying a skirt pieced by the Seminole women, but paying $700 for a skirt just goes against the grain. Not that I don’t appreciate the hours of work that goes into such a piece, but I had my husband with me, making it hard to justify so I didn’t even try. I DID buy a ceremonial staff, with lots of beading and feathers and leather talismans. I intend to shake the rain out of the clouds. The saleswoman didn’t know how much to charge for shipping, so she said she’d mail it and I could send a check. I offered to pay for the staff, but she told me she trusted me.

Shopping on the reservation was like being a kid in a candy store. I bought some beautiful jewelry, lots of fun beaded things, and three books, one of poetry, another of the history of the Seminole and Miccosukee Indians, another book on their art.

My husband eventually dragged me out of the swamp and we headed south again, this time landing in Key Largo.

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Unfortunately, we didn’t get to explore the Gulf on the “It’s a Dive” scuba boat, but that just gives us a good excuse to make a return trip.

Next up? Key West, of course!