We are on our final night of a two week stay on the Florida Keys. We count our blessings that we were able to make reservations for a few days each at three state parks in the Keys since they are very hard to get into. Each was unique in its own way. The whole two weeks the temperature was around 84 with only a few rain showers one day.
Our first stop in the Keys was at John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park in Key Largo. It is the first undersea park in the United States. It is THE place to go if you enjoy snorkeling or scuba diving. We didn’t try either. Someday when we don’t have our sweet old dog with us we will try the snorkeling. There is a joke amongst RVers about you know campsites are too close together when you can hear your neighbor using their bathroom. Well this CG was like that. It was very difficult to get in the very small, narrow sites. The campground was very quiet and secure but we probably would not return to it. You had to really love your neighbor.
Our next stop was at a private RV resort called Jolly Rogers Travel Park in Marathon. The Keys is loaded with private RV resorts. Some look very nice and some do not. Because the Keys consist of islands connected by bridges with the gulf on one side of the road and the ocean on the other, all of the RV resorts sit on water and for this reason the resorts like to charge a lot of money. Because of the time of the year (before Dec 15th) there seems to be a pretty good discount on rates. We were lucky to have a very nice site at Jolly Rogers that sat right on the seawall on the gulf. Sites again were very tight but had plenty of room to sit outside and enjoy the water. One of the fun things we did every evening was go lobster hunting. By shining a flashlight in the water after dark you could see lobsters walking along the seawall. The resort had a written policy that we had to sign when we registered that we could not take lobsters. They were protected by the resort. The seawall was so much fun to watch not only because of the lobsters but we also saw different types of crabs, a reef shark and many different fish. During the day the brown pelicans entertained us especially when the fishermen were cleaning their fish. One evening a guy was fishing on the pier just to feed the pelicans. Great entertainment as we were sipping our strawberry daiquiri.
The world is a very small place as we find out all the time. One afternoon as we were walking on the seawall a woman approached us from behind. Ivy got really nervous and because she is almost blind walked right off the wall into the water. The woman felt so bad (Ivy was wet but fine). We started talking to her and found out that she and her husband were from Seattle and had rented their house out for a year so they could travel the U.S. When asking where they had been so far she told us they had stayed in Siren, WI for two months over the summer to visit with her husband’s family. As it turned out, they stayed on the property next to Joe’s sister and husband’s house because the guy’s mom owned the land. It just is a very small world.
One of our days at the Jolly Rogers we drove the 50 miles to Key West. This was our first trip of many that we crossed the Seven Mile Bridge. We thought it was going to be something special but it’s just a bridge that is seven miles long.
Key West is a very compact city with a lot of traffic. In old town the streets are very narrow. A lot of the streets are one way and we had a heck of a time driving our truck through them. We wanted to stop at Ernest Hemmingway’s house but parking was terrible for any vehicle let alone our truck. Most people get around by foot, bikes or on little scooters you can rent. That is really the way to go. We stopped briefly at a beach to check it out but NO DOGS and it was too hot to leave Ivy in the truck. We did see some of the famous Key West roosters walking on the beach. Some day if we get back there we will explore on foot or better yet rent a scooter.
On our exploration of the Island of Marathon, Joe was looking for one of his favorite treats an ice cream cone. We stopped at an ice cream and bake shop called Sweet Savannah’s. It became our favorite little hang out. They had the very best homemade breads, pastries and cupcakes and of course ice cream. Fun place to stop in the middle of the day but so glad we weren’t going to be around the area to long. It was way to good! Yummy cheese bread!
When we first arrived at Jolly Rogers we would have said it was not a very nice resort but because we were able to get a site right on the seawall we had a very enjoyable stay. We wouldn’t go back to this resort unless we could get on the seawall again.
Our next stop was at Bahia Honda State Park in Big Pine Key, FL. Lovely state park with beautiful campsites. If you are lucky enough there were several sites right on the water. We were not lucky. The beaches on both the gulf and ocean sides were very nice but again, as in all Florida State Parks, you cannot take dogs on the beach.
In the park was a reminder of times past. In 1905 Henry Flagler, co-owner of the Standard Oil Company, started a railroad bridge to connect the Bahia Honda island to Key West. It was called Flagler’s Folly but was eventually completed in 1912. A hurricane destroyed it in 1935. Parts of the bridge are still standing.
A drive down the road from the state park was a protected area for the Key Deer. Key Deer are an endangered species of deer. They are a small deer standing only about 3 feet high. The main highway drives through the protected area and the speed limit goes down to 45 MPH during the day and 35 at night for about a 5 mile stretch. There are blinking lights and warning signs all along the highway to watch for these endangered deer. They don’t look much different than any other deer we have seen but just a little smaller.
We would like to return to Bahia Honda just because of the spectacular beauty of the island and the campsites were so nice.
Our last stop on the Keys was at Long Key State Park in Long Key. This by far was our favorite spot. Each campsite was a beach site sitting on the Atlantic Ocean. We were just feet from the ocean and each site was surrounded by vegetation and trees. If you are looking for a swimming beach, this is not the place. We were able to have a fire on the beach which we loved. Nothing better than watching the glow of a fire as you listen to the sound of the ocean with someone you love. Life can’t get much better than that! Loved this place and would love to spend at least a week here.
So our two weeks on the Keys was beautiful but before anyone gets to jealous I should tell you about the bad that comes with the good. As we entered the last state park there was a sign “Caution Venomous Snakes”. We know there are venomous snakes in Florida but I didn’t need the sign as a reminder. I was always looking for those snakes. Also we were told by the park ranger that the weather was unseasonably hot and humid. Yes it was humid. Some days the sweat dripped from you if you were outside to long. And along with the humidity came the mosquitoes and no-see-ums. You really couldn’t be outside in the early morning or from about 5:30 to 7:00 in the evening. Some places the mosquitoes would carry you away. So you have to take the bad with the good and make the most of it. It just makes us think about what part of the country we would want to settle down in when that time comes.
We are on our way to a Corp of Engineer Park near Fort Myers for 6 days and then flying back to MN for Christmas. Can’t wait to hug our granddaughter!!!!!
Life is good for us and we count our blessings every day. We hope you do too!
Love and miss our kids and sweet Cate but will see you soon!