Published: August 6th 2007April 16th 2007
A shot back to the Key. How lovely is that water?
Early to bed and early to rise. We woke up to an absolutely stunning day - sunshine and a breeze, so it was not too hot. It’s the kind of day I dream about during January in England when the whole world is dark, wet and cold. We were on the road before 9:00, heading south down Florida’s Turnpike. After a two hour drive, we arrived at US Route 1 and mile marker 126 - the official start of the Keys.
Deciding that we had driven enough, we stopped at John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park on Key Largo. This is a very cool place. It is the first undersea park in the United States and it is the only living coral reef in the continental United States. As we didn’t really have time to do a proper snorkel trip, we decided to take the Glass Bottom Boat tour.
Now I know what you’re thinking - how tacky and touristy is that!?! The one thing I have learned in all my travels is that, normally, really tacky and touristy things are the most fun. This was no exception. We all piled onto the “Spirit of Pennekamp” and motored out
Red Right Returning
Only, we were heading out at this point.
through the smallest channel I have ever seen in my life. Along the way, we saw mangrove swamps and all kinds of beautiful birds. Mangroves are really cool trees - they are the only plants that can process salt water. The red mangrove - the one that grows closest to the edge of the water - process it by sweating out the salt through the roots, many of which grow above water. They grow very closely together and one can imagine a horror film in which our hapless heroine is running from the bad guy through these trees. Or maybe I just have an overactive imagination.
Once we got out to the reef, we saw all kinds of cool fish, including rays and some of the most colourful fish I have ever seen. We sat and stared at the fish for a while and then, just as we were getting to the “been there, done that” stage, the boat took off back to the state park. It was the perfect length of time and it is hard to imagine a more glorious day on a boat.
Back in the car, we drove through the Keys passing over the Seven Mile Bridge and carrying on through a combination of the tackiest strip malls in America and the most beautiful scenery this side of the Caribbean. The road signs are fabulous - “Crocodile Crossing” was my favourite. Unfortunately, I didn’t see any crocs. There were also speed restrictions for the endangered Key Deer (35 mph at night). We didn’t see any of them either - at least until we got to our hotel.
We missed the turnoff for our hotel, so after a short backtrack we arrived in paradise. I will let you read the next entry to see for yourself just what I mean.