From Miami I wanted to go to Tampa, but didn't want to take the freeway, and highway 41 through the Everglades looked like a good alternative. It took a while to get out of Miami that way, but that was ok.
I'd known that there was a very large Latino population in Miami, and that was certainly proven to me. I drove through sections where there were a lot of signs I couldn't read. I stopped at a Subway where I couldn't communicate with the person making my sandwich. She was an older lady, and had to keep asking someone else what I was saying.
The highway through the Everglades was very straight but bumpy. There was a wide ditch/canal alongside the road for many miles, and there were a lot of people fishing. There were also a number of places offering air boat rides, though most were closed presumably due to its being low season. At one point I stopped at a small pond beside the road for a better look. It was immediately obvious why people were fishing - the water was filled with fish. They weren't huge, but they were big enough for a meal. Also, there were plenty of alligators. I guess I should have tried to count them, but every time I tried I'd notice another one in the bushes or another one would pop up. The two other critters I saw a lot of were dragonflies and vultures.
The Everglades ended quite abruptly into a golf community. I wasn't quite at the coast yet, but when I did get to the coast I was reminded a little of Galveston: most of the houses right next to the water were on stilts. Also, this was clearly a tourist area in low season - there wasn't much activity in the shops or on the beach. I drove along the coast for quite a while, but it was fairly slow going and I began to realize I wouldn't get to Tampa at a reasonable time if I continued this. Besides, there was a feature on the map that I wanted to investigate with at least a little light left in the sky. So, I eventually headed across to the Interstate and made my way north.
The feature on the map did not disappoint. It was a spectacular bridge into St. Petersburg. I snapped a few pictures while driving, but they won't do it justice. I noticed after it was too late that there was a pier from which I'm sure I could have gotten some nice pictures.
I continued on the freeway to Tampa. Crossing the bridge from St. Petersburg across Tampa Bay to Tampa, I was reminded of the San Francisco Bay: a number of large bridges across the bay. The view of the cities, though, was less spectacular.
Immediately after hitting land again, I got off the freeway and drove around for a bit. The views weren't all that impressive in the dark, so I eventually headed for a hotel. The GPS took me on a route that was kinda weird. I was driving through an urban area, but it seemed somehow oddly deserted.
I got to my hotel around 10:00, and had to do a little more driving. I couldn't find much of interest, so I got back before midnight (!) and decided to try to catch up on some sleep. That might have been a good idea if I hadn't turned on the TV! I thought I'd drift off to sleep in front of it. I did, eventually, but that was only after a movie or two (ie. probably 4:00am)! Oh, well, the conference starts tomorrow and that will force me to start keeping better hours.
OK, it's time to head for Orlando to pick up Mark. Once again, I'm too impatient to proof-read. :-)