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Published: November 13th 2014
John Pennekamp State Park
November 2014 Key Largo
We have spent an idyllic time so far in the Florida Keys. We have avoided being eaten by alligators, but the mosquitos got us, especially Viv who has a grand selection of bites, despite spraying up regularly with mossie spray; just like being at home in Spain in the summer! We love Key Largo (but we haven´t met Humphrey Bogart’s ghost yet). The Spanish first named this island; “cayo largo” means “long key” in Spanish, because this is the longest of the keys. It is 30 miles long. On Tuesday we drove south, down the key, across several bridges, which link all of the keys together, to Islamorada, Layton and then on to Marathon in the Central Keys. We saw dozens of sea ospreys circling above, hunting for fish; also Ibis and pelicans. We spent some time on Sombrero beach and then headed back up to Key Largo where we ended the day at an ocean-side restaurant (great sea food salads). The food in Florida is really good.
Yesterday was spent in the John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park; snorkelling and canoeing. Awesome! This state park covers 178 nautical miles of coral
In the mangrove swamp
reef, sea grass beds and mangrove swamps; named after the late John Pennekamp, a conservationist and also a Miami newspaper editor who helped establish the Everglades National Park as well as dedicating his life to the conservation of the coral reefs along the Florida Keys. It is a wonderful place to visit and only costs $4.50 per person to drive in and park for the whole day, enjoying the hiking trails, snorkelling off the little beaches, the picnic areas and natural habitat. One can then pay for scuba diving, snorkelling trips out to the outer reefs, canoeing and kayaking along trails in the mangroves. It is really important to spot and follow the trail markers in the mangroves, because it is a bit like a maze in there! We spent the morning snorkelling off one of the small beaches (we have our own gear with us, so cost us nothing), and saw hundreds of fish, including Mahogany Snapper, Bahama Chub (pan-sized), Parrot Fish, Sea Bass, Grey Grunts and one Needle Fish. The latter are fascinating creatures, about 30 centimetres long, very thin, with long needle snouts. We shared some of our fruit from our packed lunch with a cheeky little
Canoeing the mangrove trail
...about to enter the narrow canals
squirrel, who ate from John´s hand, and shooed away several greedy Ibis birds. In the afternoon we hired a canoe, 18 ft (can seat four) and ventured in to the Mangrove swamps. We managed to follow the trail, which took about an hour, and brought us out to canoe back along the shoreline. Fabulous! The air temperature was around 30 degrees, so it was a bit hot for the canoeing, but great for the snorkelling with a sea temperature of 26 degrees.
Today is our last day in Key Largo and we are going to spend it just chilling here in the RV park, where we can swim off the dock or laze on the loungers there. This dock is a prime site for sitting watching spectacular sunsets, because it faces west. Last night we did just that, with a bottle of wine of course. Tomorrow we are going back down to Marathon for a few nights. Our accommodation there is to be a little houseboat on a jetty jutting out into the Atlantic Ocean. We have just booked it up online. Then on Saturday we shall drive down to the ·end of the line”, to Key West.
Literally hundreds of them here!
HAPPY BIRTHDAY ANN (tomorrow 14TH
HAPPY BIRTHDAY BARB (Saturday 15TH
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