Sunday, February 22, 2015

On to the Keys

Another couple of days of getting from one place to another. We finally tore ourselves away on Saturday afternoon and headed south for the keys. But first we had some shopping to do, since now we would be preparing our own meals. We also stopped for a late lunch at a sports bar, which was crowded and the kitchen was busy. It was with a bit of trepidation that we rolled onto the Florida Turnpike --- but it took our Sun Pass so now we know that works (always a little unsure the first time).

We had a reservation at a campground in southwestern Miami, near Florida City. It is a large, well-arranged campground that looked like it had once been a KOA. First job was to dump the holding tanks (which were probably bulging) and fill the fresh water tank. The city water input hasn't worked since the freeze in Virginia. I had hoped it would just have some ice in it and be thawed out but no such luck. So I had to hold the hose in the gravity fill. Thirty gallons with a flow restricter and a filter inline takes a looong time. Finally we were back to normal.

Sunday we took a walk around the park, and set out in earnest. The route from the campground led through endless huge nurseries. There were miles of trees and plants of every description. We even saw a huge field of ferns. Then things got more urbanized and we went through beautiful downtown Homestead, an interesting old town. Finally we got onto US1 and we were on our way to the keys for sure.

Traffic in both directions was fairly heavy, but moved well. Except for Tavernier (just beyond Key Largo) that was having a festival of some sort and was very crowded. Stop-and-go traffic for a few miles. Shortly after getting onto the keys we pulled in to a Visitor Center. There was a big desk with a jolly man who could write upside down on the maps. We confessed that we knew little or nothing about the keys and what could he recommend? He marked up a map of the keys, and talked up Key West. He was friendly and joking; but when he tried to sell us tickets for the Key West tram and we said we preferred to do things on the spur of the moment, he dropped us like a hot rock and just walked off. Welcome to the commercial side of the keys.

We had reservations (gotten by pure luck) for two nights (Sunday and Monday) in the campground in Long Key State Park so we decided to just go there and check in, then figure what we were going to do next. So eventually we arrived at the state park (about milepost 67) and checked in. Our tentative plan was to claim our space, then explore a little, and spend Monday "doing" Key West. Our campsite is smooth and flat, between screens of trees, and backs up to the water's edge.
View out the rear window
The day was warm and sunny, the water slick calm, and the view out our back door was of a wide field of tidal flats. Every campsite is on the "beach." The beach itself is very narrow, and low tide exposes a wide expanse of rippled sand or a field of broken rocks.

We took a walk down the beach, talked with some other campers, and just took in the sights.

We are seriously thinking of blowing off Key West and hang out here in paradise all day. Already talking about coming back next year for longer. They start accepting reservations 11 months in advance so we will be on the computer next month.

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