Left Ft Lauderdale on Memorial Day to head for the Keys: nothing like driving in Bank Holiday traffic! At least we were heading south, felt sorry for the poor fools heading the other way who got caught up in worse stationary traffic than the M25 / Dartford crossing…. The one lane in and one lane out road servicing the Keys stretches over 100 miles from Key Largo to Key West. At a max speed of 45 miles per hour you can understand why these island people are sooooo laid back!
The views on the way down were spectacular - different shades of turquoise water blinding us in every bay and from every bridge we crossed. We headed straight for our campsite at Long Key State Park (upper keys) where we were guaranteed ocean front camping. Literally! From our white sand site we could dip our toes in the Atlantic Ocean. No waves in sight, just gently lapping aqua water. Heavenly. Only complaint was the relentless wind pumping across the bay - kite surfer's paradise; Booley's tent however was rocking for all the wrong reasons….
One visits the Keys for the island life and reef snorkeling, not for the beaches. Another reason to go would be for Porky's waterfront bar where they serve ice cold beer in frozen pint glasses! Or No Name Pub where you can add your $1 bill to the $60 000 strong collection already stapled to the walls and ceilings!
After 3 glorious nights and 3 scary snakes in our campsite at Long Key, we headed further south to Bahia Honda State Park. It's consistently voted as one of the Keys best beaches and here we finally found white sand! We walked the short trail adjacent the bay to stand atop Henry Flagler's old railroad bridge that was built in the early 1900's. The views were the best we had seen yet - just spectacular! It was awesome to see a bit of American railroad history at your doorstep.
We of course drove all the way to Mile Marker 0: Key West: The head of the Conch Republic. We ambled along the quaint, somewhat colonial streets as we got a true feel for the island vibe. One would think that with the amount of bars, restaurants and shops it would be an unpleasant, over commercialized hot spot but that's not the case at all! The friendly, laidback beach town vibe made us want to stay forever. We stumbled upon (no pun intended) the perfect beach bar: Bourbon street pub in the middle of Duval street: a literal beach party inside the bar, complete with white sand underfoot.
All in all we had an amazing week in Florida Keys. The cherry on the top was our final day: beach braai followed by the most beautiful sunset over the sea. Went to bed that night with the tent open and a spectacular view of the bright stars on a clear, calm night. There's no surprise why US Customs and Immigration avidly patrol both sides of the water as this is the perfect place in which to disappear….
The 10 hour drive back to the Aunties was easily manageable as a delicious roast leg of lamb awaited us on the Weber.
Florida Keys done. Life is good