#TravelThursday continues, and in this edition we visit my hometown of the past 34 years – Homestead Florida. The United States Air Force brought me here at the age of 20, and I’ve been working at the airbase next to the city for most of these past 34 years. Hurricane Andrew tore through the city and the surrounding area exactly 29 years and 2 days ago, and almost everything was in ruins. I left the area 4 days later, and I returned to my original home-of-record – the Washington D.C. area (both Maryland and Virginia).
19 months later (in March of 1994) I returned to a partially-rebuilt Homestead, and I’ve been here ever since. I’ll be here for a few more years until I retire and move away about 3 hours north of here.
Homestead (the city limits) is about 5 miles wide (west to east) and 2 to 4 miles long (north to south). Homestead (as an area) extends not too far east and south (due to water), not too far west (due to the Everglades), but well to the northeast.
West to east street numbers begin in downtown Miami at Flagler Street. It’s the “zero street line”. Street numbers increase both northward and southward by 1 every 330 feet. Every 16 street numbers is a mile (5,280 feet). Homestead is located in the lower-300s. 304TH, 312TH, 320TH, and 328TH Streets are all major thoroughfares in the city. Technically that’s about 20 miles south of downtown Miami, but you can’t drive due southward from Miami to Homestead. You have to drive southwestward along Florida’s Turnpike or U.S. 1. It’s about 30 miles, and it’ll take you about 45 to 60 minutes depending on traffic. The Homestead area generally begins south of 232ND Street. Over 175,000 residents live here. New home construction continues to boom.
Homestead is actually located closer to Key Largo than Miami. The “18-Mile Stretch” between the mainland of Florida and the “Overseas Highway” (U.S. 1 through the Florida Keys) begins just 2 miles south of Homestead.
We have lots of local tourist attractions here in the Homestead area. Some of my favorites include Monkey Jungle and Fruit & Spice Park. We are also located in-between 2 National Parks – Everglades and Biscayne. I’ve spent quality time at all of these places over the years – more so recently than previously. I volunteered inside Everglades National Park as a docent at a partially-restored NIKE Missile Site. About a million people from around the world visit Everglades National Park each year.
That’s my 2015 Honda Civic (at the time) parked in front of the Missile Launch Barn with the restored Nike Hercules Missile on display inside. That was taken at 3 PM on New Year’s Eve of 2016 as I was wrapping-up a busy day of tours.
Of course our # 1 product here in Homestead is our fine weather – especially in the wintertime when it’s freezing cold elsewhere in North America. A typical December or January day consists of sunny skies with highs in the mid-70s and lows in the low-60s. We actually experienced one of our chillier winter seasons in years in 2020 into 2021 with 9 days when we were stuck in the 60s all day long and 9 mornings when we dropped to the (gasp) 40s !
We’ve experienced rapid population growth here in the Homestead area over the past 20 years. Most of the long-timers don’t like it. They miss the “good old days” when Homestead was a sleepy rural town surrounded by vast farmland. A lot of long-timers have moved away to smaller towns elsewhere that remind them of the way Homestead used to be. Of course the long-timers of those respective smaller towns don’t appreciate their own population growth.
I like the Homestead of today – more so than the Homestead of yesterday. All of the new rooftops have created new stores, new restaurants, and new opportunities – all within about 3 miles of my home.
Join me next #TravelThursday as we visit another location on the face of this earth.
They keep you safe on your way, and your feet will not stumble. You can go to bed without fear. You will lie down and sleep soundly. You need not be afraid of sudden disaster or the destruction that comes upon the wicked, for the LORD is your security. He will keep your foot from being caught in a trap. (Proverbs 3:23-26 NLT)
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