River of Grass Canoe Expedition 2014 – Transition into city and civilization on the Miami River Canal

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River of Grass Canoe Expedition 2014 – Day III

River of Grass Canoe Expedition 2014 – Transition into city and civilization on the Miami River Canal.

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“Follow the water!”

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Continued from Day II:

River of Grass Canoe Expedition 2014 – Canal paddling on the edge of civilization in a Water Conservation Area

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Mack’s Fish Camp is situated on the very edge of Water Conservation Area 3, just a few miles from civilization as we know it.  For the last two days, the simple horizon of endless canals, sawgrass and water seemed somewhat like paddling in a silent movie. Yesterday’s arrival at Mack’s then felt like having reached a Shangri-La, of sorts, the interface between the world of people and nature at large. This third day would mark the expedition’s transition from the wilderness of the Everglades into the heart of the (sub) urban grid in Miami Springs.

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Miami River kayakfari Okeechobee Everglades canoe expedition paddle River of Grass 2014 Flex Maslan kayak florida

A refreshed Susan Sylvester emerges from her sleeping hammock at Mack’s Fish Camp.

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Miami River kayakfari Okeechobee Everglades Flex Maslan canoe expedition paddle River of Grass 2014 kayak macks

Victor pokes his head out to check on the bug situation.

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Flex Maslan Miami River kayakfari Okeechobee Everglades canoe expedition paddle River of Grass 2014 kayak florida

Charlie prepares to look his best for the city!

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After a comfortable night’s sleep camping at Mack’s the expedition team was ready to take on the city!

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Miami River kayakfari Okeechobee Everglades Flex Maslan canoe expedition paddle River of Grass 2014 kayak macks fish camp

Breakfast at our campsite at Mack’s Fish Camp at the start of day three.

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Flex Maslan Miami River kayakfari Okeechobee Everglades canoe expedition paddle River of Grass 2014 kayak florida

Early morning pole aerial photography session at Mack’s.

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Miami River kayakfari Okeechobee Everglades Flex Maslan canoe expedition paddle River of Grass 2014 kayak macks

Morning webcast from Mack’s Fish Camp on the edge of the city.
Team leader Chris Carl demonstrating ecological imbalances in the Everglades ecosystem.

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The morning school webcast from Mack’s Fish Camp focused on the delicate balance of the ecosystem in the Everglades. Just as with excess phosphorus laden water coming down the canal system, the volume of water, or lack there of  is a major challenge for Everglades National Park today. Maintaining an adequate supply of water coming into the city is essential and the canal system is prioritized to service the needs of urban South Florida. However redirecting excess water back into a more natural style flow is a key component of Everglades restoration efforts now under way. More clean water will help to restore the natural system of balances in the Everglades!

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Miami River kayakfari Okeechobee Everglades Flex Maslan canoe expedition paddle River of Grass 2014 kayak macks fish camp

Expedition team departing Mack’s Fish Camp on day three.

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Miami River kayakfari Okeechobee Everglades Flex Maslan canoe expedition paddle River of Grass 2014 kayak florida

Day III: From Mack’s Fish Camp to Miami Springs.

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Miami River kayakfari Okeechobee Everglades Flex Maslan canoe expedition paddle River of Grass 2014 kayak florida

Portage to “civilization” – where the “Everglades” (WCA 3B) meets the edge of the city.

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The transition from the wet Water Conservation Area into the drained urban zone starts just a couple of miles in from Mack’s, portaging our canoes over the flood control structure.

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Miami River kayakfari Okeechobee Everglades Flex Maslan canoe expedition paddle River of Grass 2014 kayak portage

TEAMWORK !!

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Miami River kayakfari Okeechobee Everglades Flex Maslan canoe expedition paddle River of Grass 2014 kayak florida aerial

Aerial crow’s eye-view portaging into the Miami River Canal that will take us into the city!

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Miami River kayakfari Okeechobee Everglades Flex Maslan canoe expedition paddle River of Grass 2014 kayak florida

Team leader Chris Carl helps guide the loaded canoes into the Miami River canal.

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Inside the drained urban zone of South Florida the team spied roads and trucks and lots and lots of invasive species that have spread unchecked. Most obvious – the thousands of acres of Melaleuca forests and huge patches of Australian Pines near and far. Closer to the Miami River canal banks, shrubs of  Brazilian pepper and mats of Hydrilla underwater were evident. For the next several miles we paddled through a matrix of giant rock quarry ponds on either side of the canal. Also, for the first time, we saw increasing amounts of litter and trash on the Miami River canal – beer cans and bottles, plastic bags and fishing line bits.

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Miami River kayakfari Okeechobee Everglades Flex Maslan canoe expedition paddle River of Grass 2014 kayak florida aerial

Canoeing the Miami River Canal in far western Miami-Dade, surrounded by rock quarries.

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Miami River dredge 1909 kayakfari Okeechobee Everglades canoe expedition paddle River of Grass 2014 Flex Maslan kayak florida

Dredging of the Miami River Canal in 1909.
Credit: State Archives of Florida, floridamemory.com

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Miami River dredge kayakfari Okeechobee Everglades canoe expedition paddle River of Grass 2014 Flex Maslan kayak florida

Detail of how the Everglades was dredged, early 1900’s.
Credit: State Archives of Florida, floridamemory.com

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Everglades canals haven’t changed much through all the decades, except for the opportunistically spreading exotic and invasive species that have taken hold in the once pristine and diverse Everglades ecosystem! Sadly this stretch of the Miami River canal is not a happy place today.

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Miami River kayakfari Okeechobee Everglades Flex Maslan canoe expedition paddle River of Grass 2014 kayak florida aerial

Paddlers on a seemingly endless canal – that is the Miami River canal in far west Miami-Dade!

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Miami River kayakfari Okeechobee Everglades Flex Maslan canoe expedition paddle River of Grass 2014 kayak florida

Industrial rock quarries and lots of non-native vegetation line this stretch of the Miami River canal.

Above – Miami River canal in 2014, far western Miami-Dade county.

Below – one hundred years ago, in the thick of the dredging process through the ‘Glades!

Miami River dredge kayakfari Okeechobee Everglades canoe expedition paddle River of Grass 2014 Flex Maslan kayak florida

Hand colored photograph of the dredge “Everglades” which was used for the similar New River Canal in Broward county.
Credit: State Archives of Florida, floridamemory.com

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Miami River kayakfari Okeechobee Everglades Flex Maslan canoe expedition paddle River of Grass 2014 kayak florida

Expedition canoes approaching Florida’s Turnpike on the Miami River Canal.

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After about six miles in, the expedition reached the intersection of the Miami River canal and Florida’s Turnpike. By this time we were again already accustomed to the sounds and smells of urbanization going on all around us. We pulled out the canoes under the overpass to break for lunch and our afternoon school webcast.

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Miami River kayakfari Okeechobee Everglades Flex Maslan canoe expedition paddle River of Grass 2014 kayak florida

The guy in the rusty van was selling fresh made Churros at the entrance to the Turnpike & Okeechobee Rd.
We made his day – it was the first time he ever sold to somebody on the river!

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Miami River kayakfari Okeechobee Everglades Flex Maslan canoe expedition paddle River of Grass 2014 kayak florida turnpike

Lunch break underneath Florida’s Turnpike at Okeechobee Road – Miami River Canal.

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Flex Maslan Miami River kayakfari Okeechobee Everglades canoe expedition paddle River of Grass 2014 kayak florida

Taking a break under the Turnpike.

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Miami River kayakfari Okeechobee Everglades Flex Maslan canoe expedition paddle River of Grass 2014 kayak florida

Team discussing upcoming afternoon webcast under the Turnpike overpass.
Grass, canoes, paddlers, the Miami River canal and traffic on Okeechobee Rd!

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Miami River kayakfari Okeechobee Everglades Flex Maslan canoe expedition paddle River of Grass 2014 kayak florida

Afternoon webcast from a patch of invasive Australian Pines near the Turnpike.

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A nearby patch of Australian Pine growth was chosen as the perfect spot for the afternoon webcast which focused on invasive species in South Florida!

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Flex Maslan Miami River kayakfari Okeechobee Everglades canoe expedition paddle River of Grass 2014 kayak florida

Thanks to Susan Sylvester for this perfectly framed shot of Tomas and Victor in a lush, but invasive Australian Pine forest strand.

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Miami River kayakfari Okeechobee Everglades canoe expedition paddle River of Grass 2014 Flex Maslan kayak florida

Dr Julien Zaragoza – a guest paddler from the Miami-Dade County School District talks about invasive species during our afternoon webcast.

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On this third day of the expedition we had a special guest paddler – Dr Julien Zaragoza of the Miami-Dade County School District. He was the “star” of the webcast presentation on invasive species that saw us reaching into over fifty classrooms in Miami-Dade. Broward and Palm Beach counties that afternoon!

Continuing on from the Turnpike we had just about eight miles of canal paddling to go in order to reach our destination for the night.

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Miami River kayakfari Okeechobee Everglades Flex Maslan canoe expedition paddle River of Grass 2014 kayak florida

Hurray for canoe power!
Paddling past a gas station along the Miami River Canal.
We didn’t need any gas, but some java sure sounded good!

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Miami River kayakfari Okeechobee Everglades Flex Maslan canoe expedition paddle River of Grass 2014 kayak florida

Waiting for coffee..

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Flex Maslan Miami River kayakfari Okeechobee Everglades canoe expedition paddle River of Grass 2014 kayak florida

The reach and the pass!

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One of the benefits of paddling in the city is the ability to jump out and get food and fresh coffee!!

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Miami River kayakfari Okeechobee Everglades Flex Maslan canoe expedition paddle River of Grass 2014 kayak cafe cubano

Charlie Arazoza treated all of us to some real Cafe Cubano – Thanks!! 🙂

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A flotilla of canoeists on the Miami River canal is an unusual sight. Occasionally, Charlie would strike up amusing conversations with people walking along the canal banks. That was some really good Cuban Coffee!  😉

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Miami River kayakfari Okeechobee Everglades Flex Maslan canoe expedition paddle River of Grass 2014 kayak florida

Canoeing on the Miami River past one of the many colorful homes that abut the canal.

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Miami River kayakfari Okeechobee Everglades Flex Maslan canoe expedition paddle River of Grass 2014 kayak 826 palmetto

Team paddling under the Palmetto Expressway which looks to have been recently repainted!

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Miami River kayakfari Okeechobee Everglades canoe Flex Maslan expedition paddle River of Grass 2014 kayak florida

Team paddler Mark Yasenchak had the best ride on this day for sure!
Paddlers taking a break in the shade of a highway overpass.

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Miami River kayakfari Okeechobee Everglades Flex Maslan canoe expedition paddle River of Grass 2014 kayak florida

There are lots of picturesque and interesting homes along this stretch of the Miami River Canal.

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Miami River kayakfari Okeechobee Everglades Flex Maslan canoe expedition paddle River of Grass 2014 kayak flood gate

Old culvert flood gate under Okeechobee Rd. along the Miami River canal.

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Flex Maslan Miami River kayakfari Okeechobee Everglades canoe expedition paddle River of Grass 2014 kayak florida

It’s a fact of life that wherever there are people there is trash!
Blown-in and storm runoff along the banks of the Miami River canal.

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Miami River kayakfari Okeechobee Everglades Flex Maslan canoe expedition paddle River of Grass 2014 kayak florida

Deeper and deeper into the Miami metropolis ..

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Miami River kayakfari Okeechobee Everglades Flex Maslan canoe expedition paddle River of Grass 2014 kayak metrorail

Metro-rail and the Miami River intersect!

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The many low bridges and a lack of boat ramps along this stretch of the Miami River canal meant that there weren’t any boaters around. Small skiffs and canoes is all that can navigate this section.

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Miami River kayakfari Okeechobee Everglades Flex Maslan canoe expedition paddle River of Grass 2014 kayak train rail

Very low rail bridge at the Hialeah Expressway.

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Miami River kayakfari Okeechobee Everglades Flex Maslan canoe expedition paddle River of Grass 2014 kayak florida

Expedition canoes approaching Miami Springs with downtown Miami in the distance.

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The team’s camping destination for the third night of the expedition was the grounds of the Miami Springs Lions Club. We were able to set up our tents right on the lawn along the river.

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Miami River kayakfari Okeechobee Everglades Flex Maslan canoe expedition paddle River of Grass 2014 kayak lions club

River of Grass 2014 Canoe Expedition team paddlers at the Miami Springs Lions Club.

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Miami River kayakfari Okeechobee Everglades canoe expedition paddle River of Grass 2014 Flex Maslan kayak florida

A very tasty bbq dinner on our third evening of camping!

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 BIG thanks to Gisa Wagner and the Miami Springs Lions Club for the great hospitality extended to us!!

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Miami River kayakfari Okeechobee Everglades Flex Maslan canoe expedition paddle River of Grass 2014 kayak lions club

Night panorama of expedition canoes, Lions Club camp, the Miami River canal and Okeechobee Rd!

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Not surprisingly, this was the noisiest camping night we had. Directly across from us on the other side of the Miami River canal is Okeechobee Rd. with nearly all night truck traffic.

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Miami River kayakfari Okeechobee Everglades Flex Maslan canoe expedition paddle River of Grass 2014 kayak florida

Truckers speeding by on Okeechobee Rd just across the canal.
The “jake” brakes they use put out a very loud and distinctive sound!

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After everyone had retired and gone to sleep, I spent about an hour photographing the tranquil river and lights at night. It was a good opportunity to reflect on the day’s past events and to contemplate the next and final day of paddling on the Miami River canal.

This then – on the last night of the River of Grass 2014 Canoe Expedition!

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Miami River kayakfari Okeechobee Everglades Flex Maslan canoe expedition paddle River of Grass 2014 kayak florida

Looking down the Miami River canal, the final stretch and exit out into Biscayne Bay.

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Continue on to Day IV :

River of Grass Canoe Expedition 2014 – Miami River Canal out to Biscayne Bay

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rasta happy kayakfari kayak canoe paddle photography adventure

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© 2014 Flex Maslan / kayakfari.com / digital029art.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!

🙂

4 comments on “River of Grass Canoe Expedition 2014 – Transition into city and civilization on the Miami River Canal

  1. Pingback: River of Grass Canoe Expedition 2014: Lake Okeechobee – Miami River Canal – Biscayne Bay | kayakfari ( kayak .. far .. i )

  2. Pingback: Spooky night time filming on the Miami River with ARTE (Euro TV) | kayakfari ( kayak .. far .. i )

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