Settling in at Ortona South Campground

Tuesday March 1st 2022

The weather I experienced on Monday morning in northwest central Florida was here in south Florida this morning. It was cool and cloudy with an occasional period of drizzle this morning. Around 2PM the sun made its first appearance of the day. The high temperature was in the low seventies.

Great Blue Heron

My day was focused on getting settled in and refreshing my knowledge of the park. I stayed here four years ago at about this time of year for two weeks and briefly in the fall of 2020 when I was running from hurricane Eta in the Keys. That last stay was for one night rainy and windy night. I didn’t have much time to check anything out.

The dam with the lock on the left and the campground on the right.

This campground is located on the south bank of the Caloosahatchee Canal at the Ortona lock. The canal is a widened part of the Caloosahatchee River that flows from Lake Okeechobee to the Gulf of Mexico at Fort Meyers. Together with another canal on the east side of Lake Okeechobee it forms a cross Florida waterway. On my visit four years ago there was a lot of boat traffic in the canal. This year one of the locks on the section east of the lake is closed for maintenance, so the number of boats using the canal is way down. It is not currently possible to use the canal to cut hundreds miles off the journey between the Atlantic and the Gulf of Mexico.

Looking east from the dam.

Between the campground on the south bank and the lock along the north bank is a dam. During the day it is possible to walk across the dam to an island in the canal that serves as the south side of the lock. When boats are using the lock it is interesting to watch them be raised or lowered. Today I didn’t get to see any boats in the lock, but a least a few did go through while I wasn’t watching. I saw them leaving the lock area.

In the middle of the campground a small creek, irrigation ditch or drainage ditch, depending on your point of view, empties into the river. It is a feeding location for lots of different types of birds. This time of year many of the birds are in matting plumage. They are all spiffed up to attract a mate. Included in the birds was one very pretty Great Blue Heron.


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