USA Road Trip -to the Florida Keys
Visiting the Keys in Florida
The trip from Boynton Beach to the Keys was what we expected – one hour to Miami on I-85, one hour through Miami on US 1 South and then two hours south of Miami on same highway to Bahia Hondo State Park one of the three State Parks on the Keys that offer camping and this one furthest south only about 35 miles from Key West and 120 miles from Cuba. Some of the bridges that we crossed as we hopped from Key to Key were 7 miles long! On Jessie’s advice I reluctantly booked camping something that we had never done on this trip-‘but this is Florida!’ she wisely told us and we remembered one of the crucial rules for travelling in other countries: ‘always listen to the locals!’ We were eventually allocated no 68 for Wednesday and Thursday nights by the helpful State Park official on the phone- this only after a second attempt, perhaps someone cancelled.
As we arrived at the campsite we could not believe our luck as we were on the beach and with a big shade tree to park Matilda under. The view from our campsite over the Atlantic Ocean was stunning and after a couple of photos we walked a hundred yards or so down to the swimming beach where even Audrey ventured into the lovely, clear, cool water. The weather is humid and hot even in early winter and apparently usually stays this way all winter. We crossed the 25 degree south line of latitude south of Miami earlier.
The late evening saw us again going for a swim in the Western side of the Key so that we could watch the sun go down over Bahia Honda (Deep Canal) Bridge that has an interesting history. After building this amazing bridge over this deep canal as a train bridge early in the last century the bridge was seriously damaged and the train ‘sunk’ by the big hurricane of 1935. The resourceful engineers then used the same cement bastions to build a motor car bridge above what was left of the railway bridge. This is no longer in use but stands as a monument to the early engineering marvels and modern science.
Out campsite was invaded and our food stolen last night – as Jessie would say-“this is Florida!” We have forensic evidence that there were at least three culprits involved, perhaps working as a well oiled team. Foot prints left in the sand indicate that the main culprit and leader of the gang was a Raccoon probably wearing a face mask and assisted by a lizard/snake (probably with shifty eyes) accomplice and an avian third party – leaving obvious prints that will be sent to CSI for further analysis! The fact of the matter is that working as a gang they ruthlessly entered the campsite, opened our Coleman Freezer Chest and dragging out our bread, meat, chips and chocolates caused great distress to us as innocent victims. The park officials who were informed of this sad situation were sympathetic but could not explain why they did not put up warning notices like elsewhere in the country saying “ lock your food away, don’t leave valuables in your car etc.” Perhaps this is simply understood in Florida.
They did have notices saying “pets are not allowed on beach, clean up after your pet when necessary in designated pet walking areas, when snorkeling put up a diving flag, save water as Florida is in a serious drought and water gets piped in over 100 miles from the fresh water wells in the everglades,” etc. A pleasant drive into Key West and a walk on the beach before replenishing our rather bare cooler box did help to ease the pain of being violated last night by theses cruel and thoughtless hoodlums.
Waking up to watch the sun rise this morning I also noticed that a boat had gone aground on a reef about 800 meters from our campsite making our problems seem quite unimportant. It was listing badly to one side and another boat had arrived to give assistance. Later in the day we saw that it had been removed and we hope all ended well. This week in Key West is their huge weeklong ‘Fantasy Fest’ (Witches, Wizards and Vampires invited) ending with a ‘Mardi Gras’ type celebration over the weekend (an adults only affair where apparently just about anything goes-specially the clothes). The advice from people we asked locally was ‘don’t go near the place – they are expecting 75000 people to travel there over this weekend and it is going to be bedlam