Moonshine in the 10 000 Islands

Overgrown mangrove jungle at the Liquor Still site ten thousand islands

Overgrown mangrove jungle at the Liquor Still site in the Ten Thousand Islands.

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Liquor Still Bay kayakfari everglades moonshine totch brown islands 10000 ten thousand flex maslan

Totch Brown’s Liquor Still in the Ten Thousand Islands, Everglades.
CLICK for superwide interactive panorama!

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Take a look at the panoramic above and imagine hacking out a small clearing in the above mangrove forest to live in and operate a clandestine moonshine still. This is what Totch Brown’s father John Brown did during the Great Depression to make ends meet during those difficult times. His life story is fascinating, and I couldn’t possibly do it justice here, suffice to say I will mention that you should read Totch: A Life in the Everglades by Loren G. Brown. In this post I will offer you a photo-journey-essay of a quest to find this “lost” bit of old Everglades history.

In October of 2011, I was afforded the opportunity to paddle and find this site in the aptly named “Liquor Still Bay”, so I jumped at the chance to explore a colorful bit of the old time Everglades! The plan was to paddle to the find the still, check it out, and continue on to our campsite. Next day return via a different route, for a rough total of about 42 miles or as it would turn out to be.

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Liquor Still Bay kayakfari everglades moonshine totch brown islands 10000 ten thousand flex maslan

Approximate route taken over 2 days totaled up about 42 miles of paddling!

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Since we were going to find the remnants of an illegal liquor still, I felt it was good form to fly the colors and represent!  ;)

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Liquor Still Bay kayakfari everglades moonshine totch brown islands 10000 ten thousand flex maslan

The Banana Boat flying the colors at the launch in Everglades City.

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The Lopez River Campsite Liquor Still Bay kayakfari everglades moonshine totch brown islands 10000 ten thousand flex maslan

First stop at the Lopez River Campsite.

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Liquor Still Bay kayakfari everglades moonshine totch brown islands 10000 ten thousand flex maslan Lopez River Campsite

Ted taking a “break” at the Lopez River Campsite.

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To help preserve the integrity of this site, I am purposely vague with our route and omitting any directions – sorry!

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Liquor Still Bay kayakfari everglades moonshine totch brown islands 10000 ten thousand flex maslan

Arrival in Liquor Still Bay deep in the Ten Thousand Islands!

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Camping Hell in the Ten Thousand Islands!

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Overgrown Liquor Still Bay kayakfari everglades moonshine totch brown islands 10000 ten thousand flex maslan

The overgrown entrance could be anywhere and was hard to spot!

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Liquor Still Bay kayakfari everglades moonshine totch brown islands 10000 ten thousand flex maslan

Entrance to the liquor still site hidden in the mangroves.

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Liquor Still Bay kayakfari everglades moonshine totch brown islands 10000 ten thousand flex maslan

Remnant old wood planks leading to the still site.

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Finally, the remains of the still site literally pop out of the woodwork!

Liquor Still Bay kayakfari everglades moonshine totch brown islands 10000 ten thousand flex maslan

First look at the Liquor Still Bay site.

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Compare these pics with this video filmed in 1993,  The Everglades Outlaw, Totch Brown, watch @ 3:26 as the camp was re-created for a documentary!

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Liquor Still Bay kayakfari everglades moonshine totch brown islands 10000 ten thousand flex maslan

A Banana Spider guards the path at Liquor Still Bay.

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Liquor Still Bay kayakfari everglades moonshine totch brown islands 10000 ten thousand flex maslan barrel

Pieces of an old wood barrel.

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ART at Liquor Still Bay – hidden history in the Everglades

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Liquor Still Bay kayakfari everglades moonshine totch brown islands 10000 ten thousand flex maslan

Remains of the concrete storage pen as described in Totch’s book.

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The Liquor Still replica (prop) in 2011 Liquor Still Bay kayakfari everglades moonshine totch brown islands 10000 ten thousand flex maslan

The Liquor Still (replica prop) in October of 2011.

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Original still foundation circa 1930 Liquor Still Bay kayakfari everglades moonshine totch brown islands 10000 ten thousand flex maslan

Original still foundation circa 1930 at Liquor Still Bay.

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Liquor Still Bay kayakfari everglades moonshine totch brown islands 10000 ten thousand flex maslan

Liquor Still in timeless black & white.

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In this video, Totch talks a bit about his life, and living in the frontier ‘Glades: Yesterday’s Everglades Preview

As a young boy, Totch lived in an 8 x 14ft tar shack just behind the still!

Totch Brown’s acting career

Production Company that made the films of Totch and the old Everglades

Yesterday’s Everglades film at Amazon

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Liquor Still Bay kayakfari everglades moonshine totch brown islands 10000 ten thousand flex maslan

Here I am with my spray skirt on and the liquor still!😉

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John Brown had filled the camp with shells and debris to create a shell mound much like the Calusa Native Americans had done many generations previously throughout the Ten Thousand Islands.

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Liquor Still Bay kayakfari everglades moonshine totch brown islands 10000 ten thousand flex maslan

Raised path made of shell material and other fill in 1930.

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Liquor Still Bay kayakfari everglades moonshine totch brown islands 10000 ten thousand flex maslan

Canopy provided some nice shade at the entrance to the Liquor Still site!

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ART at Liquor Still Bay – hidden history in the Everglades

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Flex Maslan kayakfari Liquor Still Bay everglades moonshine totch brown 10000 islands ten thousand art prohibition gladesmen history chokoloskee

“Shine on you crazy Outlaws”
Available from Kayakfari ART Photography.
CLICK to enter a time portal into the old Everglades!
ART at Liquor Still Bay – hidden history in the Everglades.

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With the Liquor Still Bay mission accomplished, we headed out into the Gulf on a slack tide. The paddling was easy and serene here, and not at all what the Gulf waters had in store for us!

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Liquor Still Bay kayakfari everglades moonshine totch brown islands 10000 ten thousand flex maslan Huston River

Heading out to the Gulf of Mexico on the Huston River.

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Once out in the Gulf, winds had picked up as our first “big” fall cold front had moved in over the area, kicking up 3 -5 ft seas. As it was getting late, and we had already paddled 20 miles, we elected to surf down-weather towards Mormon Key only a couple of miles south. About 20 minutes later we were beaching the boats and enjoying the refreshing 15-20 knot NW winds and sunset!

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Liquor Still Bay kayakfari everglades moonshine totch brown islands 10000 ten thousand flex maslan Mormon Key

Late afternoon / early evening arrival on the beach at Mormon Key.

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Heaven or Hell: Summer paddling and camping in the Ten Thousand Islands

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Liquor Still Bay kayakfari everglades moonshine totch brown islands 10000 ten thousand flex maslan Gulf sunsets

One of those crazy Gulf sunsets .. that’s what you come out here to see, right!?

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Meanwhile, back at the campsite, I watched a crescent moon set and the belt of our milky way galaxy straight overhead. It stayed windy through the night, but windy meant NO BUGS!:)

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Mormon Key Liquor Still Bay kayakfari everglades moonshine totch brown islands 10000 ten thousand flex maslan

Moon setting over Mormon Key beach in the Ten Thousand Islands.

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NIGHT LANDSCAPE PHOTOGRAPHY and DIGITAL ART from the EVERGLADES, FLORIDA BAY, TEN THOUSAND ISLANDS, BIG CYPRESS & BEYOND!

(click pic to enter)

Flex Maslan kayakfari photographer kayak camping stars night Everglades landscape pano print art Florida Bay slough shark camping with the stars

ART of Darkness – Camping with the Stars! Part II
“It’s full of Stars!”

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The next morning was very comfortable and clear, winds had shifted to the N-NE and dropped considerably. One cool thing about Mormon Key is that it is completely covered in shells, from pulverized microscopic pieces (i.e. “sand”) to foot-long pieces and giant clams. The ancient Calusa ate well, I think!

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Liquor Still Bay kayakfari everglades moonshine totch brown islands 10000 ten thousand flex maslan

Mormon Key beach is made of all shells, of all sizes!

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On a different note, as beautiful as it is, this beach has been overtaken by sandspurs (“sticklers”), like the one’s you’ve painfully stepped on at the beach. Sadly I don’t think you can find a spot that isn’t covered with them here! They will poke through your tent floor, and into your mattress and/or private parts, and you will need three layers of tarps to prevent this. Even after you think you’ve got rid of them all, you will find even MORE! My final surprise was a few that managed to attach themselves to the underside of my sprayskirt as I went in to launch my kayak!

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Sea Grape Liquor Still Bay kayakfari everglades moonshine totch brown islands 10000 ten thousand flex maslan

Sea Grape buds about to open on the beach at Mormon Key.

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Liquor Still Bay kayakfari everglades moonshine totch brown islands 10000 ten thousand flex maslan

Into one of these flowers!

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Prickly Pear Cactus Liquor Still Bay kayakfari everglades moonshine totch brown islands 10000 ten thousand flex maslan

Prickly Pear Cactus growing on Mormon Key shell beach.

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Finally, a delightful 20 mile open water paddle to Everglades City lays ahead!:)

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Liquor Still Bay kayakfari everglades moonshine totch brown islands 10000 ten thousand flex maslan shells

Launching back out over all the shells on Mormon Key beach.

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Rabbit Key Liquor Still Bay kayakfari everglades moonshine totch brown islands 10000 ten thousand flex maslan

Last stop on the Rabbit Key sandbar in the 10k basin.

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Continue with more paddling and camping adventures from the Ten Thousand Islands:

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Camping Hell in the Ten Thousand Islands

Flex Maslan kayakfari photographer kayak camping stars night Everglades landscape pano print art Florida Bay slough shark camp hell evil ten thousand island

“Camping Hell in the Ten Thousand Islands“
CLICK to enter if you dare!

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Heaven or Hell: Summer paddling and camping in the Ten Thousand Islands

Flex Maslan kayakfari camping hell everglades heaven kayak canoe bugs photography adventure ten thousand islands paddle rain

Heaven or Hell: Summer paddling and camping in the Ten Thousand Islands!

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ART at Liquor Still Bay – hidden history in the Everglades

Flex Maslan kayakfari Liquor Still Bay everglades moonshine totch brown 10000 islands ten thousand art prohibition gladesmen chokoloskee history

ART at Liquor Still Bay – hidden history in the Everglades!

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THE END!

Was followed by an awesome fish sandwich and cold beer at

 City Seafood in Everglades City

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Thanks to  Kayak Ted of the Palm Beach Water Yaks  for organizing,

and Esther of the Miami Kayak Club for the great company!

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© 2012-2016 Flex Maslan / kayakfari.com / awakenthegrass.com. All original photographs, artworks and music in this portfolio are copyrighted and owned by the artist, Flex Maslan, unless otherwise noted. Any reproduction, modification, publication, transmission, transfer, or exploitation of any of the content, for personal or commercial use, whether in whole or in part, without written permission from the artist is strictly prohibited.

All rights reserved!

DISCLAIMER:: The maps and images on this site are not intended for navigation, I am not a guide; use any and all information at your own risk! Your mileage may vary .. so use good judgement before venturing out!

With that said..
Blessings friends!

:)

2 comments on “Moonshine in the 10 000 Islands

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