Screw the lawsuits. Someone has to watch these people. Critter reports are back. Here is what I could recover from the archives. Check in for more recent sightings later. There are people living in the Everglades and every now and then I see them heading down the stretch on foot or on a bike. There are also crazy people who migrate South just for the hell of it. With construction going on endlessly it's gotten even more interesting. Past Critter Sightings
02/04/02 Heading north and dawdling, a woman at mm 117 wearing red pants and periwinkle parka.
02/05/02 Heading north and hustling, an Arabic man about 30 with an Ezekial beard and Backpack at mm 120 wearing a 70's style tan jumpsuit.
02/09/02 No critters today but a truly spectacular accident at mile marker 116 at 1:45 pm. A black fifth wheel hauling a yuppie trailer jackknifed from the north bound lane over to the south bound lane and into the swamp. Looks totaled to me. No injuries though unless there was a vehicle behind or under it that I couldn't see.
02/11/02 No critters today and no accidents. Sigh. It was a boring drive.
02/17/02 Yesterday there were two very cute cyclists hauling at mm 124. Full biking gear including little lights on the helmets.
Oh, and I watched a van make a U-turn at the Florida City end of the stretch after a brief pause to look at their trusty map. See Tales from the Stretch for more on this odd behavior.
02/20/02 Black male, white corduroy pants, no shirt, red jacket no shoes. Heading south just before the prison entrance
02/22/02 Male of indeterminate race and age loitering by the Brazilian Pepper trees at MM 108 at Lake Surprise. No car in sight. Barefoot. Just staring into the bushes
03/01/02 Bearded Guy about 45 years old, no shirt, green shorts, sandals. Pushing a dolly with duffle bags at mm 106.
03/04/02 African-American man a little after midnight at mm 120. Shorts no short, no shoes, pushing grocery cart.
03/12/02 Today at 4:45 PM at MM 108 North of the Jewfish Creek Bridge and trucking North. A 30 something female with long blond hair wearing red shorts and a white shirt. She is pulling wheeled luggage.
Second critter sighting at MM 93. Stopped by police. Male long nasty dark hair with beard way below belly button. Jeans and Green Military Field jacket. No Vehicle. Pulling Two wheeled shopping carts.
3/19/02 MM120 Young Hispanic man heading South. Jeans with one leg cut off at knee, white tank top, one wooden leg.
03/25/02 It's Spring Break here in the Keys so we expect the critter reports to be interesting.
MM 113 Young man on Bike - expensively equipped with all the bells and whistles heading south.
Two Back Packer at mm 109 heading North. Also expensively equipped.
04/01/02 OK Not technically a critter but seasonal anyway -- spotted a man in white shirt white shorts dragging a full sized cross from the Tavernier Towne Shopping center to Papa Johns Pizza (3 miles?) It's a big cross. Looks kinda weird in front of the pizza place but hey, a guys gotta eat.
An introspective and enlightening Good Friday to all.
05/02/02 There have been reports of ordinary people stopping to camp on the side of the stretch. This may be a new style of extreme camping where the danger of the cars going past at 70 MPH vies with the hell of mosquitoes chewing up your derriere and the survivors of such an adventure can say that they combined the worst conditions of nature with the concrete jungle to experience a millennium camping adventure. I'm just guessing. Anyone want to stop and ask them?
05/13/02 I saw one lone bunny on the stretch yesterday morning. Sigh. there was also an abandoned bike at the midway bridge. No sightings of actual critters.
05/20/2002 Highest one day bunny count is 3.
Last weekend a couple was spotted hitchhiking at the top of the stretch. About two hours later they were at Holiday Ilse -- guess they caught a ride.
05/25/02 Critter season is shifting from the winter critters to the summer critters. Keep an eye out for the knife sharpening guy and people in hospital attire recently released from asylums up north.
Bunny count per day is averaging 3.
06/01/02 One bunny. One sad little bunny and a guy hand lining in the glades at around mm 116. The trash pick up crew did a great job on the stretch. I have seen the mosquito man once or twice. But, other than that, the critters are resting.
6/1/02 3:42 PM: mm 109. Male, blue pants cut off just below knees, white t-shirt, ball cap with t-shirt stuffed under it. Back pack. Canoe paddle on shoulder. On North bound side heading south.
06/12/02 Must be Harley Davidson week. There were gobs of them all over the place this weekend. No actual critters to report.
06/19/02 Crab season has begun. Keep a watch for land crabs defending territory in weird locations. As much fun as it might be to weave and dodge to try and hit one, don't. They have very sharp claws which will pop your tires. You may smush the crab, but it will probably cost you.
Elderly man heading North at MM 110, Tan shirt and shorts, gray beard and hair, looks hispanic. June 19, 2002 4:20 PM. Same guy heading south at mm 124 from Florida City June 20, 2002 10:10 am.
06/26/02 The bunnies are out in huge numbers because of the rains. Their little burrows must be filled with water. I counted 9 coming home from work yesterday.
Strangely enough there have been almost no human critters sighted along the stretch in recent days. Has the Everglades Restoration Project flushed them all out of the swamp? Are they all in Key West? What gives? Anyone? Anyone?
07/05/02 Pirate Biker with Scull & Crossbones headscarf at mm 118. Shorts, White Tank top, no water, backpack or supplies, heading north. He turned into the Last Chance Saloon in Florida City just as the thunderstorm broke at 4:30 PM. Gray ponytail and beard. Ladies and Gentlemen, the summer critter season has officially opened for business.
07/10/02 At 5:45 am today a bunny raced across US 1 on the Stretch at MM 121 and very nearly got tagged by oncoming traffic. I believe it made it across, but it was a close shave. This erratic behavior will require vigilant observation. Normally the Marsh bunnies are content to stay on their side of the road. I suspect a thwarted load of cocaine was dumped into the everglades and munched upon by said bunny, giving it flashbacks of it's humiliating loss to the tortoise years ago prompting it to race recklessly across US 1 in a mad panic. Hopefully it was an isolated incident. Please report all erratic swamp bunny behavior to the editor.
07/18/02 They are cutting the shrubs along the north bound side of the stretch.
07/24/02 Double Sighting: Critter headed South at MM 121. Armenian looking, skinny, Dark Gray pants, shirt and painters cap. Walking. Critter headed North at mm 118 on bike. Blond, thin, no shirt, flowered bathing trunks.
7.29.01 Heading South on South bound side at mm 123.2. G.I. Joe. Buzz cut blond hair. Army fatigue style shorts and brown t-shirt (I'm guessing Haines), back pack and -- of all things - a DayTimer in his hand. 7.29.01 12 noon.
8.21.02 Heading South on South bound side at mm 111. Thin man in Bermuda shorts and button down short sleeved shirt with a turban that vaguely resembled the cute round throw cushions my grandma used to have on her sofa. 8:21:02 3PM.
9.3.02 Hitching South on South bound side at mm 126 in front of Last Chance Saloon. Thin man in early Earth Hugger Attire, Skin tanned to nut brown, long yellow hair in pony tail. 9.3:02 3:30PM.
After Holiday Road Debris
One 18" Blue Lamp shade
Two 5 gal Buckets
Three Boat seat cushions
Several new plastic gallon sized plant pots
One Lawn chair, slightly tweaked
One 4' piece of capped PVC
18 " Resin Table
One blue bed pillow.
It was inevitable. The grass cutting crew found a dead critter the week before last as they were spiffing up the stretch for the holiday traffic. He was apparently 30 to 70'ish, human and missing several teeth. One wonders if they had a more rigorous cutting schedule (i.e. more than twice a year) what would they find before the gators drag it out into the swamp. 9.9.02
9.27.02 Two bunnies. The excitement is killing me. Cute bunnies though.
10.2.02 5:30 am And it's officially the fall critter season! Heading North at mm 125, dark skinned male wearing blue Bermuda shorts and a Panama shirt with -- of all things -- knee high socks and sandals. Very tropical.
10.7.02 9 am What appeared to be a recent Ernest Hemingway look alike eject-ee, riding a bike north in the northbound lane. Red Plaid long sleeved shirt (And yes it's still hot and humid here -- it's always hot and humid here), jeans, bushy white beard and hair. mm 113 1\2.
10.18.02 9 am Critter on old bike wearing tan Bermuda shorts and shit, scraggly blondish hair, heading south on sound bound side of stretch and weaving. Guessing he's about 50 but didn't stop to ask. mm 117
10.29.02 6:30 am Two bunnies at mm 117. Ok. Ok. It's pathetic I know. Do you think I'm enjoying being bored to death every morning on the stretch? You're just going to have to share my pain until things pick up.
11.11.02 Even the freaking bunnies are hiding out. I did see a car launch into the swamp a few days back at mm 122. I called *FHP and here's the scary part, the officer on duty kind of laughed and said, "Again?" And I'm thinking, these guys are getting almost as jaded as I am about the cars launching themselves into the swamp. That can't be good. Nope. Not a good sign at all.
For those of you recoiling in horror because you don't live here and see it every week, the swamp is only about knee deep and -- shudder -- it smells. Bad. Ergo, the worst that can happen is that you get a little wet and you never get that smell out of your SUV. Oh and there're the mosquitoes. That part really sucks. Which is why very few people actually stop to baby sit a car that's gone off into the swamp. I think the tow trucks charge extra.
11.27.02 Shopping cart critter heading South on the North bound side at mm 113. Male. Thirty-ish. Chinos and T-Shirt. Pushing a way over loaded shopping cart in front of him dodging cars.
12.3.02 Yet another shopping cart critter heading South on the South bound side at mm 122. Male. Thirty-ish. Greenish Bermuda shorts and tan shirt. Scraggly brown hair in a pony tail. Pushing a shopping cart in front of him.
12.18.02 Double critter sighting and . . . a fridge. mm 121 African American critter wearing black Bermuda shorts and red sleeveless shirt. Orange hair. 5' 8" 150 lbs. Hitched a ride. Heading south on south bound side. mm 109 back packing critter, about 100 years old. I couldn't tell what the heck he was wearing. Heading south on the south bound side. mm 114? Refrigerator. And it's in a bad spot too. The swamp critters are usually a bit farther north or south. They will never be able to drag that thing back to their lair.
1.06.03 mm 113 Heading north on north bound side, bike critter. 40 to 70ish. Recliner bike. long grayish hair and beard. Bundled for cold weather. 9:05 am
mm 115.8 Young man (18ish) tall, slender, Caucasian, black stocking cap, oxford shirt, chinos. Looked like he had just been dropped off by a truck trailering a tractor headed north. Kid-critter was heading south in the north bound lane.
1.14.03 mm 118 Heading north on north bound side, bike critter. 30-ish. Ten Speed. He had so much stuff loaded onto the back of his bike he looked like those farmers in the Andes. He was struggling to stay upright. Seriously. Did you see the episode of the Amazing Race where they were given a choice of paddling a weird looking little thimble boat or riding a way overloaded bike and most of them chose the bike? Did you laugh when Flo fell over and spent the rest of the episode whining to Zack that "She just couldn't go on." I kept hoping she would utter the phrase, "Just shoot me." And then I was hoping someone would. I mean they were in the back end of the world, what's one less game show contestant to a country like that? Anyway, this critter's bike was almost that overloaded. 4 PM
Also of note: The FHP is set up with a bug smasher plane and about ten patrol cars pulling vehicles over for speeding. Do NOT speed on the stretch.
The "Yearly Dead" count sign at the top of the stretch is pegged at 15. That's last years number. I am guessing they won't set it back to zero. Zero isn't intimidating enough. Or perhaps zero is just taunting drivers to attempt being the first death of the year on the stretch and the sign Gods don't want that potential lawsuit on their plate right now. Anyway. Keep a watch. See if they adjust it. I'm throwing my dollar in for this weekend being the first death - Friday morning at mm 109. Anyone wanting in on the "Guess the day and location of the first Stretch Death of 2003" bet can email me. I'll put you down on the calendar.
For those of you still looking for a reason to sue me - these are cyber dollars. You know, like monopoly money. Fake. Losers.
1.21.03 9 am Critter Clutter sighted at the Tavernier McDonalds. An overloaded bike next to a baby buggy, also loaded with hefty bags full of stuff. Sleeping bag, clothes, etc. Critter was probably catching a snack inside.
2.9.03 9 am We have a strange looking critter hanging out between mm 88 to 92. About six feet tall, wild brown hair which is only partially tamed my a cotton hat. He's wearing army fatigue pants and a dirty white t-shirt. He reads the paper while sitting on the side walk in front of the church next to the high school and then walks up to Winn Dixie and back and that pretty much covers his day.
They are trimming the bushes on the stretch. Why? I have no idea. One month to bunny season.
April 2, 2003 8:51 am Walking S. on South bound side. Hispanic critter wearing brown pants, blue windbreaker and classic Castro hat. He had a back sack which puts him slightly above the average critter. mm 126.
May 26, 2003 I haven't been keeping up with the critter report lately and I am feeling guilt. In my defense, I have the worst flu in the history of human disease and I�m barely driving, much less observing. But, drugs are a wonderful thing and I am an avid believer in better living through modern chemistry so after a week of chemical therapy I feel a little better. Better enough to share the sites of last week anyway.
The critter of the week has to be the gentleman at mm 121 who, with a full compliment of luggage, sat there at that post all day. I saw him there in the morning as I was heading into Miami and again in a wicked rainstorm that afternoon on my way home. I called *FHP, naturally, to have someone check on him. For all I know he could be doing some kind of 40 day and 40 nights religious retreat thing, but there has to be a better place than mm121 in the middle of the freaking swamp. He looked so miserable there in the rain.
Another critter was backpacking south on the southbound side. He looked pretty decently tricked out with gear so I'm guessing he wasn't swamp camping, although you just never can tell.
What I haven't seen are any women critters in a long time. I'm not sure what that means. It could mean that women have better sense than to walk up the eighteen mile stretch in the middle of a summer day where the mosquitoes are so thick you can cut through the swarms with a knife. But I'm not that optimistic
June 10, 2003
There has been a tragic lack of critters of late on the stretch and the bunnies are one pathetically thin herd this year. I saw a raccoon walking along at 9 am just after the south passing zone on the N. bound side. An African American college kid wearing a white Oxford Shirt and light colored slacks was riding his bike North against the South bound traffic at mm 126. No gear. And I have to mention that bikes are supposed to ride in the direction of the traffic not against.
I may start listing the numerous traffic accidents I am privileged to see every day on my long commute. You would be amazed.
June 21, 2003
Actually, this is for the week. It's been a busy week. South bound on the North bound side at mm 114.5, Woman, thirty-ish, orange shorts, white t-shirt jogging at 7:53 pm. Technically, she should be classified more as "Critter Bait" than "Critter". A few days later, heading North on the North bound side. An emaciated Hemingway look-alike candidate on an old bike with an American flag waving behind it. He had everything but the kitchen sink loaded up for the trip. Cute nylon trailer behind him.
July 23, 2003
There have been no critters sighted on the stretch in recent weeks. Our local mm 90 critter with the wild frizzy blond hair, Castro Hat and light colored, thin cotton slacks and shirt was seen hitch-hiking all the way up at mm 102 heading north. Dare we hope he was on his way North out of the Keys finally? If he caught a ride then we'll never know for sure.
A herd of Peacocks raced across the road this morning at mm 87. Very cute.
August 1, 2003
African American? Difficult to say. 5' 10". 180 lbs wearing maroon long sleeved shirt and khaki green pants. Heading South on the South bound side at mm108.
Also of interest, Nature photographer dodging traffic with tripod and camera at mm 125. 8 am.
August 6, 2003
Man in his 40's on red girl's bike. White T-Shirt. Backpack. Heading South on the South bound side at mm121.
September 10, 2003
Same as Aug 6: Man in his 40's on red girl's bike. White T-Shirt. No Backpack this time. Heading South on the South bound side at mm124. He's about 5' 10", 160 lbs brown, short hair. He had his shirt off and wrapped around his neck. 11:29 am. I spotted two swamp bunnies on the second passing zone shoulder.
September 26, 2003
ZZ Top Shopping cart critter spotted a few days ago heading South on the South bound side at mm 13.5.
October 7, 2003
Hitchhiking critter at the entrance to the Kid Prison. About 6' 2" 230 lbs. Greasy black shoulder length hair. White t-shirt under khaki button down and khaki pants. 5:15 am
November 3, 2003
mm 124.5 on South bound side, sitting on his butt hitchhiking, Male, thirty-ish, black hair and beard, Tie Died shirt, 8:30 am.
OK and a rant. The winter critters are here again and they are panhandling in Florida City looking to get south to the Keys. Do not give them money or a freaking ride south dammit.
November 12, 2003
Pathetically enough, I had to consult the computer clock to see what day it is.
mm 120 South bound lane heading south on a bike, no backpack. Bleached blond, spike haired man in his 20's, about 6' 2", green tank top. 8:25 am
mm 123.2 What is probably the spike kid's Dad wearing an unfortunate white ball cap and matching white shirt, heading south on the southbound side of the street on a bike. 8:28 am.
There was a beautiful flock of Storks with the black and white wings out on the west side if the road near Lake Surprise yesterday morning. The winter birds are arriving daily. Should be Turkey Vulture season as well soon.
December 4, 2003
The knife sharpener bike guy is back in town! I wrote down the particulars of the sighting and then lost them. But - he had only made it a few miles south on the stretch in the time it took me to go and come back from work - eleven hours or so. He was just sitting there with his forearms resting on the handle bars staring at traffic about halfway south. Another biker passed him going south. Knife Sharpener man was gone the next morning so maybe someone gave him a lift.
There have been quite a few critters on the stretch all heading south but I have been slacking on reporting them. I'll try to do better from here on out.
December 23, 2003
Hispanic male, 5' 6" heading south on south bound side. 8:30am. Bike. Stripping off his clothes at the little bridge. Verrry scruffy looking.
January 29, 2004
Critter Season has been interesting this week. I've been tracking one man, about 6' tall and loaded down with duffle bags - I counted six? - making slow time. He camped in the swamp at least one night and was last seen entering Key Largo yesterday afternoon.
Another was hitchhiking at mm 126 S on the South bound side. Slightly handicapped - stiff legged walk. A little worse for the wear in the hygiene and wardrobe department - plus it was raining slightly.
I'm going to add a little opinion here so cover your eyes if you don't want to hear it. When Key West outlawed the critter killing of chickens for BBQ on Smather's Homeless Beach, the chicken population exploded and now people are homeless AND hungry. They are paying the Chicken man $18K to relocate the birds. It's probably - no, definitely - costing more to feed the homeless (Most of whom are gainfully employed BTW). Lift the freaking Critter BBQ moratorium. Problem solved.
February 5, 2004
1.29.04 Racing Bike Critter mm 125 heading North on North bound side. Fully geared up. 4:33 PM
2.4.04 Casual bike critter mm118 heading North on North bound side. Maroon shirt, black shorts. 8:44 am. Looked like a frat kid.
March 11, 2004
2.24.04 4:03 PM Heading South on Southbound side of the stretch, mm 121 White Shirt, Khaki shorts, duffle bags.
2.25.04 Critter Bait jogging. Probably staying on a boat at the Marina mm 113 8:29 AM Blond, Heading North on Northbound side, Orange outfit.
March 31, 2004
3.29.04 5:01 PM Fire on the N. Bound side about 1/4 of a mile into the swamp. I freaking HATE fire season. Swamp fire smell is the worst.
3.31.04 Big brown fluffy bunny at mm 117 at 8:44 am N. Bound side munching grass. I haven't seen the swamp bunnies for months. Must be Easter Season.
April 14, 2004
4.1.04 8:40 AM Headed South on the North bound side of the little bridge. Black bike, panama shirt and Jeans. mid 30's. Male. mm 117
4.6.04 12:20 PM Heading North on the North bound side. Critter looking just like Jim Croce riding a bike. mm 124.
April 21, 2004
4.16.04 8:32 AM Heading N. North bound side mm 109 Small white fluffy dog smushed in front of Gilberts. What is wrong with these dog owners? Leashes people! Squids.
4.14.04 12:20 PM Death count sign moved up from five to six (Newspaper says it's actually seven but Oh well.) This also blows my theory that they are only updating it quarterly. We now know that it's completely random - much like the law enforcement on the stretch. mm 126.
4.15.04 8:18 AM Heading South on North bound side on a bike. Baseball cap, sachel, kind of a rough yuppie looking guy. mm 108.9
May 11, 2004
I have been falling down on the critter report lately - please forgive me.
4.20.04 9:29 am mm 125 Heading South on South bound side - Bike Critter with a HUGE backpack, Buzz cut WHITE hair - really weird.
5.10.04 A double critter sighting. MM121 7:40 am Heading North on North bound side. Guy with huge afro but bald on top pushing a 3-wheel shopping cart. MM 120 Wearing Dessert camouflage cut off at knees, no shirt. Critters everywhere! Final Death count for ’05 18 – which I think is incorrect but WTH do I know.
1.19.06 8:42 AM mm 126 Heading South on the South bound side. 100 year old trucker, skinny with white beard.
1.27.06 ?? AM mm 113.3 Heading South on the South bound side. German helmet, Mustache, White T-shirt, Back pack, 40-ish – Smiling.
2.8.06 10:39 AM mm 117.3 Heading North on the North bound side. Blue blanket critter, black pants, brown hair, 40’s.
2.8.06 10:45 AM mm 123 Heading North on the North bound side. Bike, blanket roll, BB cap, Khaki, mid 30’s, short brown hair.
2.17.06 8:31 AM mm 121.7 Heading South on the South bound side. African-Hispanic, Dark Clothes, thin, short wiry hair in his 60’s, gray beard and mustache – seen him before. He lives there at that spot in the passing zone.
3.3.06 9:26 AM mm 111.2 Heading North on the North bound side. Two Rasta Jamaicans on bicycles.RV's in Hell
1.6.06 9:04 AM mm 108 An El Monte Rental RV (800) 367-3687 www.ElMonteRV.com (Hey, I'm a full service road scum reporter) License J47-RIJ Tioga PULLED out from the 76 station inches from my front bumper and then crawled from 0 to 20 mph in just under fifteen minutes. May you blow a tire on I-75 in Ft. Meyers during rush hour, dude. The rest of you know what I mean.
The Haunted section of the Stretch across from the Kid prison is for sale. The buyer should know that highway ghosts? Not so nice. Most of them were victims of RV drivers like the one above and, trust me when I tell you this, they are still pissed off. Hell - I'M still pissed off.
1.9.06 was a bad day. I found a dead rat in the outside doggie water bucket.
1.9.06 8:36 AM mm 118.4 Stopped on the South Bound Side. Critter with a shopping cart sporting a "Wide Load" sign and loaded with stuff I'm sure he realy needs, stopped and staring at the swamp. Does he not know mosquitos are sucking him dry of blood? How can he not notice that? Anyway, 35-ish, Brown, curly hair, white t-shirt, picking up more garbage to add to the shopping cart.
1.9.06 8:42 am mm 122.8 heading South on the South Bound Side. Yeah. Banner Day. Smok'n hot critter in his 20's, back pack slung on one side, jeans and a kerchief on his head in piratical fashion.
1.12.06 8:27 am mm 115.7 Heading North on the South Bound Side. This one was interesting. He had created a backpack from garbage bags and packing tape with loops for his shoulders and everything. All that tape and plastic loaded with god-only-knows what and no shirt to protect his skin. Khaki pants. About 20 years old. Military haircut and ripped.
1.12.06 Wide Load critter update. The cart is there but no critter. I'm guessing the croc he was watching finally got bored and ate him. That or the mosquitos finally sucked him dry. It happens.