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Florida Keys

2003-07-04 02:18:45.337376+00 by ebradway 3 comments

Geographically, as far away from Dan as I could get within the conterminous US, I just got back from the Florida Keys. Stayed in Marathon (middle of the Keys) and spent two days in Key West, one day at Fort Jefferson in the Dry Tortugas and most of the rest of the time at Bahia Honda State Park.

Key West is like San Francisco packaged to sell to cruise ships with a shot of Tequila and lime. Touristy, but with character. Bars everywhere. Every restaurant has basically the same menu and it's all good. Mallory Square, where everyone gathers to watch the sunset, is a hoot. Locals setup there carny acts and work for tips - no official organization. They lay ropes on the ground to mark off their area. There was alot more stuff to see in Key West that I missed having my daughter and parents in tow. One big draw back - much of the culture is geared to either week-long vacationers at best (same shit different week) or cruise ships docked for the day at worst (same shit, different day). Chickens and cats everywhere. The seafood is incredible - tuna and mahi run the waters and the catch of the day is just that - what the restaurant's charter deep sea fishing boat caught that day. Didn't get to try it, but there are a number of tall ships that do 'sunset cruises' - for $30 a head you get to sail for a few hours to see the sunset and all the wine, beer and champagne your sealegs can handle.

The Dry Tortugas and Fort Jefferson are a must see. I recommend chartering your own boat, however. We took the day ferry and spent more time on the boat than on the island. Fort Jefferson is enough to keep you occupied for a day and the snorkelling and scuba diving around the Tortugas is flat-out amazing (pictures to be developed). Funniest thing I heard all week was the couple seated at our table on the ferry asking if the restaurant we were recommending required formal clothes - in Key West, or so the legend goes, people in formal clothes are refered to as either bridge, groom or defendant.

Bahia Honda State Park is a gem. for $25/night you can camp on the ocean. The temperature in the Keys varies only slightly (low of 80 and high of 90 in June)and on the smaller islands you are guaranteed enough ocean breeze to keep you cool. The park has some interesting nature trails, a butterfly garden, a grove of endangered silver palms, and lots of sea turtle nests. The park offers three daily snorkeling trips to the Florida Reef (for less than $25 for adults). If I go back to the Keys, I'll probably just camp at the park.

I spent alot of time playing with cheap ways of taking underwater pictures. The best result I got was from disposables. Check out my gallery for details.

[ related topics: Butterflies Photography Nature and environment Food Beer Eric's Life Boats ]

comments in ascending chronological order (reverse):

#Comment made: 2003-07-04 02:48:31.986932+00 by: topspin

Ah, man.... takes me back to my 40th birthday, drinking at the Green Parrot WAAAAY too early and pouring beers for a poor, hot Akita. I got dog drunk.... I'm not sure what the dog got.

#Comment made: 2003-07-04 16:34:36.411528+00 by: petronius

Bahia Honda State park? Damn, and I thought Staples Center and US Cellular Field were bad! At least Staples and US Cellular are Amuurican companies...and on the 4th of July yet!

#Comment made: 2003-07-04 17:10:48.302749+00 by: ebradway

Bahia honda = Spanish for Deep Bay

Tortugas = Turtles - named by Ponce De Leon for the large number of sea turtles in the waters. The Dry Tortugas are 'dry' because there is no fresh water on the islands.