Florida City

Family Beach Scene, 1935, Walton Blodgett

Like the sun did last month, during winter solstice, we turned north again, but not without some leisurely lingering in Key West. First up was breakfast at Pepe’s, an establishment since 1909. Then we hit the old custom-house, the local history and art museum. It is there that I saw the above watercolor. A WPA art work, it humorously captures some of the issues with family road life. 

After leaving Key West, we stopped at Bahia Honda State Park. Like many of the south Florida state parks, this one was open, but with reduced facilities, due to storm damage from Hurricane Irma. We made it to Florida City, which is just south of Homestead and is west of Miami. We had been fretting the threatened government shutdown, because in the past, these shutdowns close all of the national parks, but for this one that will not happen. Bring on the gators!

Mallory Square Sunset

Schooner Sunset

We enjoyed a full day in this southernmost city. The motto for Key West is southernmost. Everything is southernmost, from the southernmost point in the continental United States, to the southernmost house adjoining that point and even the southernmost, southernmost house, a new addition that swooped in to lay claim to the title. We started our day with Cuban coffee again, café con leche this time, made our way over to Duval Street, the main drag and then down to the southernmost point. The line for this photo-op was too long, so we
eschewed it. The rest of the day we spent working our way north. We did this mainly via Duval, but we took other excursions. We visited the 19th-century Fort Zachary Taylor, named for a distant relative of mine. He was president too. We also visited a NOAA eco-center that is in part run by the park service. Anne got a stamp there that turned out to be for Dry Tortuga, so I guess we don’t have to go there now. We also visited Truman’s winter Whitehouse, before getting to Mallory Square to view the sunset. The parade of boats leading up to the sunset was most impressive. The crowd that gathered to view the sunset on the square was also entertaining. It was a chilly 60 ºF today. Tomorrow should be warmer.

Key West

Tricolor Heron

We’ve made it to our turnaround point, at least for the Prius. There is no more road left to drive. We’re still deciding whether or not to sail out to Dry Tortuga National Park. We’ve got a couple of nights here. Let the party begin!

We spent the day nature loving. Our first stop was a mile from the motel, the NOAA HQ for the keys. Emphasis here on the ocean aspect of the acronym, It was just a government office, so we never made it past the entrance, but the two people that we spoke with were very helpful. I ran our itinerary by them and they offered helpful suggestions.

They’re first suggestions was breakfast, a Cuban grocery and café. Locals rule! The Cuban coffee was precious, every single drop of it. The rest of the meal was not too shabby either. We dogged a bullet, by not going to the local sea circus. We visited Long Key State Park instead. A much better investment of time and money. The park still shows signs of Irma storm damage, as does the rest of the keys, but on the other hand, everything is amazingly uncrowded here, leaving us to be treated like royalty. You should come visit too! I hear it’s cold up there. 

The high point of the day was to the turtle rescue hospital. This non-profit is dedicated to rescuing sea turtles in the keys. They have ambulances, operating rooms and recuperation facilities. It is an amazing place. Our last stop before Key West was Blue Hole on Big Pine Key. This fresh water sinkhole promised alligators, but instead, we saw key deer, the smallest species of deer in America. A Peru dinner nicely bookended our day.