As we drifted in I thought I could hear the theme from Deliverance playing in the backgound. Pinecrest had a long-deserted gas station, a rusting '52 Dodge, and a purple pant-suited person who emerged from a trailer to question us. She asked me the year of my pickup (we were driving a sedan). I asked her where the gators were. "All ova", she replied.
When I told her we were looking for Lucky Cole she lightened up. I actually hadn't seen the guy for fifty years but we both grew up in Miami Springs.
Several years ago I had read an article about him in New Times. It made him seem like a mountain man without the mountains, keenly interested in guns, gators, motorcycles, and swamp women. He had a weekend beer joint on this wilderness trail and was known for photographing biker mamas, naked, at his hunting camp.
It was Valentines Day and I suggested that we mosey on over to Lucky's camp for valentine portraits.
Francesca and Kay thought I was joking. Dave was not sure.
A half-mile later, when Dave saw the "Lucky's Place" sign, he stopped the car. I jumped out to peer over a locked gate. I yelled for the tall boy I had known in the fourth grade. Lucky was either not there or he could not hear me. I recalled he was drafted by the Army in '67 then discharged from boot camp because he was half-deaf. Some would say this made him, indeed, lucky.
When I returned to the car and told the girls I could not find him Francesca said, "Lucky for us".
Two miles further we pulled into a trail parking lot. A family of four stood together smiling gleefully at the sky. I thought they were experiencing the beginning of the Rapture but then heard what sounded like a swarm of bees. I looked up and realized they were posing for a hovering camera-drone. Toys like that might put Lucky Cole out of business someday.
We drove further west on the narrow passage that's underwater four months of the year. Suddenly it blocked by a brown animal with a billowing bushy tail. When we got out for a closer look it sat up on its haunches and stared us down.
"What is it?" Francesca asked, "A mongoose?" "No," I replied, "it's a large squirrel like we've never seen before. I think he wants us to leave".
As we prepared to he left himself.
Later we learned it was a fox squirrel, a solitary animal that is quite rare.
We drove on, enjoyed a picnic lunch, hiked through a dwarf cypress forest, and finally looped back to Miami 45 miles east.
We never saw any alligators. I think they were eaten by the squirrel.
If you'd like to know more about Loop Road, follow this link: