Monday, our first, and possibly only, full day in the keys. At one time we thought about spending it at Key West. Then we thought we would just hang loose in Long Key. When we woke up it was high tide. The water was up to the edge of the site, no beach at all. Then the sun bore down and it got hot --- at least hot to our winter-adapted bodies. There was no wind at all which didn't help any. So rather than run the air conditioning, we decided to explore
Jean heard about a sea turtle rescue place in Marathon, so we thought we would try to find that. She also read that the only place to see key deer is Big Pine Key, so that was added to the schedule. We also wanted to get to a beach (always a requirement). So off we went, about noon.
Once on Marathon (about 15 miles away) we saw signs for Coco Plum Beach, so we made the required turn and eventually found a small beach parking area. The parking area was bigger than the beach.
When we got back to the main road (Route 1) Jean asked about the Turtle Hospital at a gas station and was told it was about a mile or mile and a half down the road on the left. Everything we want to see seems to be on the left --- and traffic is pretty heavy. So off we went, staying in the left-hand lane. And sure enough, a mile and a half later there it was --- on the right. We made a death-defying swerve and slid into the parking lot.
The entrance building housed a small museum with placards about various aspects of sea turtles. There is a 90-minute tour that cost $18 a head. The next tour started at 3:00. It sounded interesting but we elected to read the placards and press on for Big Pine Key.
On the way we turned off (left, of course) for Sombrero Beach. When we got there it was crowded and there was not a parking place anywhere in the three-block parking area. So we regretfully turned around and went back to US 1.
Traffic on Big Pine Key was very heavy, but we found the key deer information center. It was a right turn, but the road immediately forked and there was no indication of which fork to was on. There we were told that the best place to find deer was a road just off 1 back where we got on the key. We found the road and followed it to a small parking area at the end. There was a foot trail leading into the woods. While we were eating a quick lunch a man came out of the trail with two dogs. In the ensuing conversation he told us that there were very few deer at that location. There were lots of deer where he lived on the other end of the key. He brought his dogs here to walk because he didn't want them chasing deer. We thanked him and got directions to his area and left. On the way out we spotted three deer crossing the road ahead of us. We stopped and grabbed a couple of pictures.
So having seen our deer, we headed back toward Marathon, looking for a well-advertised sandal store. Jean spent a little while in Sandal Factory, but didn't find anything to interest her. By now it was getting close to sunset. On a whim, we headed back to Sombrero Beach. Sure enough, there was plenty of parking and almost no one on the beach. As promised, it is a more normal-looking beach.
We thought for a while that we might eat supper in Marathon, but it was getting late and we didn't see anything to tempt us. It was just after sunset when we got to the park.