Photos of this day are here.
When we drove the Overseas Highway from Miami to Key West, the air wasn’t as clear as I might have liked, the skies were a bit murky. However, this Saturday morning we had gorgeous blue skies, warm temperatures, and balmy soft air. We took our time leaving the guest house, enjoying a leisurely morning walk to Camille’s, a little cafe that had received great reviews, especially for breakfast. As we walked toward the Southernmost Point on Simonton Street, we found more charming little conch houses (a term for any small frame wooden house in the keys) and another guest house completely hidden by gardens. I later read in Budget Travel that this guest house was one of a special few in the world. Breakfast at Camille's was excellent, with banana walnut pancakes, real maple syrup, and fresh orange juice. yum again.
Back to the guest house, I took some photos of the house and grounds and we packed our belongings into the car (not touched in three days) and headed back north on the highway. With the car, we found parts of Key West that hadn’t been as easily reached on foot. We found Higgs Beach, Rest Beach, and the long and lovely Smathers Beach. I would have loved to have found these beaches earlier in our vacation, but there wasn’t enough time to really explore Key West any more than we did. If we can find a place for the motorhome, I can see us driving south in the winter and spending some quality time here kayaking, walking, and just relaxing.
On the way back north, we did see a couple of large state parks, and tried to check them out. Both parks charged $2.50 per person to enter, and neither would let us just ride through to check them out. From the outside, Bahia Honda State Park at MM37 looked wonderful, with a few large RV sites with some shade, and others without shade but with a waterfront view. Farther north, on Long Key, while parked along the entrance, we used the internet to check out Long Key State Park, also with wide spaces and beach front locations for several RV sites. We will definitely need to plan ahead, however, since they recommend getting reservations when they are first available, 11 months prior to your visit. It also isn’t cheap, with full hookup sites at $40 or more and no senior discount except for Florida residents. Still, I can see us planning this trip sometime in the next few years.
Crossing the famous “Seven Mile Bridge” was beautiful with such clear skies to brighten the day. Stopping at the wayside to walk the bridge a bit, I was again mesmerized by all the colors of turquoise. Pigeon Key, just a tiny spit of land in the middle of the bridge, was only accessible via a 4 mile walk across the bridge. A new home base waited in Long Key, so we opted for a short walk instead.
Arriving at the tiny village of Layton, on Long Key, we were a bit disconcerted to see that we were somewhat isolated. The delight of our nice room made up for everything, and we unpacked our belongings and enjoyed the space. It was great to have our own bathroom again!
After settling in, and realizing that the pace of this part of the trip would be a bit slower, we decided to drive to the rest of Islamorada and check out the villages. Islamorada is a collection of islands, separated by bridges, and all considered part of the community.
Checking out the reviews, we decided to try out the Island Grille. Voted Islamorada’s best waterfront dining, it didn’t disappoint. The ambiance was loud and festive, our table right on the waterfront, with a big fancy boat parked just a few feet from our table. The menu was crazy, and it took a long time to decide what to eat. Again, things weren’t cheap, so I decided to have an appetizer. I chose the “Tater Fondue”, a crazy mixture of crisp home-made potato chips made tantalizing with a balsamic drizzle, blue cheese and a hot blue cheese sauce, fresh finely chopped tomatoes, and scallions. It was the strangest combination I ever saw, and it was delicious!
Ambling back to our comfy lodge just in time for the sunset, it was the end of a perfectly lovely day.