Alligator Alley, Panther Crossings, and the smallest Post Office in the US


It was tough to leave Islamorada this morning. Sunny skies, 75 degrees, and some new friends. The one thing that made it easier was the 90-plus percent humidity! We didn’t go back to the dog park because of the humidity – I wanted to make sure that Max didn’t get overheated and have to be in the car for hours trying to cool down. So, we missed seeing our new friends, Carol, Dusty and all the other dogs whose names we don’t know. But you can be sure that Max would recognize their rear ends even in the dark!

Harbor Lights Motel was our home for the past week. We had a lovely second floor room with a kitchen, dining table, two double beds, and a nice tiled bathroom. Becky and Todd – and Britney, the afternoon desk clerk – were welcoming and good hosts. Max was welcome everywhere, and really seemed to like being there. I’d highly recommend it to anyone heading to the Keys for a getaway. Located around mile marker 85 in Islamorada, the motel has a nice heated pool, lots of outdoor spaces to sit and enjoy the ocean view, and is convenient to lots of restaurants, plus the dog park is only a couple of miles away.

Harbor Lights Motel was getting a facelift when we left this morning. The new color will be a warm yellow, with blue and green accents.

We were on the road by 9:45 and were heading west on the Tamiami Trail (Rte 41) – also known as Alligator Alley – about an hour and a quarter later. The last time I drove Alligator Alley 10 years ago, Rufus was in the passenger seat counting alligators he saw along the canal by the side of the road. I think his record was somewhere around 157 gators between Miami and the west end of the road near the turnoff to Everglades City.

Today, because I was driving and couldn’t just watch for alligators, I probably didn’t see more than 25. When I spotted this really big guy – maybe 6 feet long – basking on the sunny bank of the canal, I made a U-turn and stopped to snap a photo.

This was definitely the biggest gator I saw by the side of the Tamiami Trail as I drove from Miami to the Gulf Coast of Florida.

As we drove west, I was surprised to see this sign by the side of the road:

Panther Crossing! Imagine the thrill of seeing a panther cross the road. I hoped to see one, but no dice…

And a couple of hours after getting on the Tamiami Trail, we stopped at the smallest post office in the United States – unfortunately, it was during the lunch hour and the place was tightly padlocked.

The smalest post office in the US was padlocked for lunch when we drove through.


This historic marker gives the details on this tiny post office.

We kept right on trucking ’til we got to Fort Myers and checked into another La Quinta Inn for the night. As I sat on the terrace with a Sam Adams, Max looked longingly into the pool area beyond the gate. A sign listing the pool rules clearly stated “No Pets in the Pool Area” yet there were three dogs indie the fence! Obviously, Max thought it was another dog park – and why couldn’t HE go in??

If this is a dog park, why can’t I go inside???

And so ends Max’s first birthday. Stretched out dreaming at the foot of the bed, he has no clue that he’s a year old and growing!

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About Maureen Farr

I am a graphic and web designer – and the publisher of the print version of Arts Guide, a free guide highlighting the arts, dining, events, and more on the coast of Maine. In addition, I am a visual artist working in mixed media and encaustic, as well as creating found object jewelry. I am currently at work revising a short novel that I wrote as a participant in the 32nd Annual 3-Day Novel Contest.
This entry was posted in Friends along the way, Musings, On the Road, Traveling with a dog, Traveling wth a poodle and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Alligator Alley, Panther Crossings, and the smallest Post Office in the US

  1. Diana Richardson says:

    Poor Max! Such a disappointment… The trouble with growing up! Well, at least you kept him safe from alligators …and panthers!

  2. Sarah Margaret says:

    Maureen, Following you vicariously has been wonderful! You are doing a superb job of bringing it alive for all us following you. The video of Max playing is just terrific.

  3. I love that P.O.! I wish you could’ve sent a postcard or something from it–what a bummer that it was closed! You’re having some cool adventures–especially seeing a SIX FOOT GATOR! Yowsa! love, Cin

    • Maureen Farr says:

      Yep, it’s been a fun ride! Max is itching to get going and I have a plan for today that involves a detour to starbucks on our way to a great sounding dog beach in Venice.

  4. Cool! Have a good time and drive safely!

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