Hi again to all my readers,
Thanks for all your comments on my Cuba series. I really enjoyed writing those posts and selecting photos to help tell the story of our experience in Cuba. When we returned from Cuba on February 12, Donna and I picked up the car in Miami and headed down to the Florida Keys. We only made it down to Homestead about an hour south of Miami when we checked into the Hampton Inn, with a comfortable bed, hot water and a toilet that worked consistently! And we were really, really tired as we had to depart from Trinidad, Cuba at about 2 AM to make the bus trip to the Santa Clara for the flight back to the US. Besides being tired, Donna picked up a travelers bug on the last day of our trip so she needed to rest and recuperate.
Our home on the Keys was near Mile Marker 31 on Big Pine Key in an RV park. Yes, we rented a 31 foot travel trailer for our eight day stay. When I started looking for a place to stay, the options within our budget were limited as it was the high season in Florida and lots of demand for shelter. It was cost effective and since we are RV owners we thought “what the heck.” It turned out ok, it was kind of old but it was convenient and only about a 30-45 minute drive to MM 0 on Key West.
Big Pine Key is the home of the endangered Key deer, a very small version of the more abundant white tail deer. The speed limit on Big Pine and a couple of adjoining Keys is 35 mph and is strictly enforced. There is a big sign on Big Pine that shows how many deer have been killed by vehicles since the beginning of the year, when we were there the number was at 12. They are very tame and don’t seem to be too afraid of anything so I’m surprised there aren’t more killed. Here’s one of the many photos I took of the deer during our explorations of the Key. Note: its about the size of a big dog, less than 100 pounds.
The water is the big attraction in the Keys, well in addition to many other things! We saw a lot of people out in boats, kayaks, and people fishing from boats and shore. So a lot of water sports and activities. The photo below is of one of the many marinas along the 113 mile US Highway 1 or the “Overseas Highway” as the locals call it, that takes you from the mainland to Key West. We had a very enjoyable lunch at an open air restaurant at this marina.
This photo from the beach at Bahia Honda State Park on Bahia Honda Key. General public access to beaches is limited in the Keys, this beach was very nice and easy to access.
A visit to the Keys isn’t complete without a visit to Key West, the capitol of the “Conch Republic.” With the most southern point of the continental US, the bar and music scene on Duval Street and the sunset celebration each day on Mallory Square there is certainly enough to keep a couple of travelers busy. We made two treks down to Key West, avoiding the weekend due to the heavy traffic. There are about 25,000 residents in Key West but at this time of year it swells to accommodate all the tourists. Key West also is a port for cruise lines so add a few thousand extra folks and it can be very crowded in Old Town. This is a photo from our stop at the southern most point in the US, interesting to us because we were in Cuba just the week before.
One of the most fun things we did was to tour Truman’s Little White House. The tour guide was excellent having had met President Truman when he was a boy selling papers on the streets of Key West. Something we would highly recommend.
The beginning of US 1, MM 0, here’s where it all starts.
For us a visit to Key West wouldn’t be complete without a stop Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville. Yes we are fans, listening to Sirius XM Channel 24 on your dial the whole time while in the Keys. Ok, so the food and drinks are over priced but what the hey it is the Mother House! Also stocked up on t-shirts and other such tourist stuff at the store, only live once!
Enjoying our drinks and the lively ambience.
And finally, a couple of photos from the sunset celebration at Mallory Square. Lots of people but worth battling the crowds. Not the most spectacular of sunsets is it was very overcast but fun to watch and experience.
So check the Florida Keys off the bucket list, not that we won’t go back again but if we die tomorrow it will be knowing that we’ve visited a very special place in the US. And as a bonus, Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes for all you Buffet fans.
Until next week with chapter 1 of my recent experience in Ghana, West Africa.