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November 15th 2014
Published: November 16th 2014
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The Iconic Florida PelicanThe Iconic Florida PelicanThe Iconic Florida Pelican

On the RV park dock, before we left Key Largo
Saturday 15thNovember 2014 Marathon and Key West

The houseboat isn’t on a jetty jutting out into the ocean. It is well-protected on a jetty in a little creek which flows into the ocean. Lovely setting, very picturesque, great sunsets; shame the boat is dirty! This accommodation has cost twice as much as the cabin in Key Largo and isn´t good value for money. Oh well, can´t win ‘em all! If it was cleaned up, shown some bleach and bathroom cleaner, it would be simply charming “shabby chic”. The “chic” is somewhat missing!

However, despite this, we have enjoyed two great days in both Marathon and Key West. Marathon is joined to the lower Keys by the famous “Seven Mile Bridge”. This bridge is quite spectacular. Not only is it seven miles in length but it enjoys stunning views out across the ocean. Parallel to the bridge, the old bridge, now an historic landmark, is enjoyed by walkers and cyclists. One can walk out on the old bridge for two miles to Duck Island. The old bridge was built between 1908 and 1912 as a railway bridge to link Key West to the mainland. It partly collapsed and was re-built as a road bridge in 1935. Construction of the new bridge didn´t start until 1978. The old one was condemned as too dangerous. We walked for two miles out on the old bridge and whilst doing so we saw six huge manta rays in the clear water beneath us, as well as four or five turtles and about the same number of huge jelly fish, the size of large dinner plates, which we think were the Portuguese Man of War jellies. The reason we didn´t go out to the outer reef to snorkel whilst at John Pennekamp State Park was because they had a warning, a red alert in fact, for these nasty huge Portuguese jelly fish. Having seem them from the bridge, we were very glad we hadn´t been tempted out to the outer reef earlier in the week (nearly were)! We also saw several Pelicans, Ibis and Osprey. Walking the two miles back on the bridge was rather exhausting due to the heat (30+ degrees and in full sun). Porta-loos out on Duck Island would have been welcomed too! We soon found ourselves a very nice restaurant in the Marathon marina for a late lunch and a few beers, so the heat and discomfort were soon forgotten, leaving us just with the memories of the views and the sighting of wildlife, especially the huge rays swimming below the bridge. In the evening we sat on the deck of our little boat, with a bottle of wine and watched the spectacular sunset across the creek. A small black dorsal fin seen circling in the water, and the jumping of fish, suggested a Tarpon hunting his evening meal. An idyllic end to a lovely day.

We got up early on Saturday morning and set off across the seven mile bridge, through Big Pine Key, to arrive at Key West mid-morning. Key West lived up to all of our expectations. It is a picture-postcard town, charmingly historic, so very well-preserved (they must have very strict building regulations here), squeaky clean and genteel. The waterfront is a delight to wander around, huge Tarpon just swimming between the yachts at anchor, chasing shoals of Snapper. Yachtsmen are warned to be careful to avoid Manatees who live there too. Unfortunately, we didn´t see any. From the old town we walked south to the other side of the town to take our photos beside
Green LizardGreen LizardGreen Lizard

on the bridge
the marker for the “Southernmost point of continental USA”. From here it is just ninety miles to Cuba; Havana is closer to Key West than Miami is! We had to wait a while to get our photos, but it was worth it. We have, of course, been to Land´s End, which marks the end of England, and to in Galicia, which marks the furthest western point of Spain, but this is the tip of a continent! In January we shall see the tip of another continent when we sail around Cape Horn. After trudging back to rescue our car before risking a parking ticket (apparently the issuing of tickets is hot business in Key West) we drove to look at the little beaches around the southern shore before heading back up Highway US 1 to Marathon and the houseboat. One of the beaches is a “Dog Beach”. It is a tiny little beach especially for doggies to have a swim. Two black Labradors were having a grand time retrieving balls and Frisbees from the sea.

So ends our week in the Florida Keys. We have loved it here. Tomorrow we head back to Miami and then on Monday we fly to Quito. The advice is to avoid travelling to Quito, which is high in the Andes, from sea level, to avoid altitude sickness. Well…we have been at sea level for three weeks now, so when we get there on Monday we plan to take it slowly for a day, but hopefully we shall not need longer to acclimatise, because there is so much to see there. We shall see!

“Adiós Florida y Hóla Ecuador y el Sud de América”

Additional photos below
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Hemingway's houseHemingway's house
Hemingway's house

We didn´t have time to go in

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