Started the day in Key Largo, at the Hideout, an above average hole-in-the-wall. We had booked a snorkeling tour, but 1-2′ chop was too rough for us, plus there was this man-o-war thing. We cancelled our tour and did a Pennekamp hike instead. It started in native forest, but turned into a historic orchard. My lovely tree hugger was afraid to touch the vegetation, because she couldn’t identify Poisonwood, a local relative to poison ivy. For tropical fish, we settled for the aquarium. This was strike two, we may have one more swing at snorkeling.
The tenor of this post might sound like one of disappointment, but nothing could be further from the truth. We are having a ball! The weather is much better than last year’s trip, which was a little chilly. Almost all of Hurricane Irma’s effects are gone now. Any hint of whining should be taken with the knowledge that we could have stayed much longer here, like many of the snowbirds that we’ve met. I’m not willing to go that far, but I am already thinking about next year’s trip.
On our way to Key West, we stopped at Long Key Park. I was disappointed by the lack of restoration from Irma’s damaged here. We learned that its main feature, its mangrove swamp was killed by the storm. Mangrove leaves have a membrane that filters the salt, allowing this tree to grow in salt water, When the leaves are filled with salt, they turn yellow and drop off, but Irma proved too much for these trees, blowing too many of the leaves away. It will take this park twenty years to be restored. I suspect that Florida has triaged this park.
We made it to Key West and checked in to our luxury motel, the Silver Palms. Famished, we lunched at a nearby Duval dive, fish and chicken tacos, with key lime cider and slaw. After lunch, I took a dip in the pool.
After, the heat of the day (highs have been in the low to mid-eighties), we headed north to Mallory Square for sunset. Due to pylon work, we couldn’t quite get there, by the route we had chosen and our view was obstructed by barges. So, we did the next best thing and walked up and down docks for fleeting glimpses of the sunset that we sought. In the end, we may have gotten more different pictures than otherwise. Different is good.
Our search for dinner was way over long. On Key West, during high season, after sunset, dining is a madhouse. Unaware, we jumped headfirst into this maelstrom, armed only with our Frommer’s guidebook. Unfortunately, every recommended restaurant was slammed. I guess they sell a lot of books. We ended up in the neighborhood of a few of these favorites, at a place called Firefly. Look for it in next year’s edition and then look elsewhere. It was both excellent and uncrowded. We split tri-tips with blue cheese and crab bacon beignets. We rounded out our meal, day and key lime exploration, with cake.