A continuation of our North American RV Tour of 2017/2018.
Apologies to my readers………… Lynda and I have been on the road with limited internet access.
Friday, November 17 – Day 80
The Florida Keys nights are warm and humid thus keeping our bedroom too warm requiring the air conditioner, I don’t sleep if it’s too warm and unfortunately there is only one window and a fan-less ceiling vent in the bedroom………. very little cross draft.
Lynda and I spent the morning inside our trailer, the nits from the night before are still hanging around, I’m sure once the day heats up our pesky friends will retreat to the swamp behind our campsite.
Ralph and I headed to the Key Largo Kampground office first thing to see if we could upgrade to the empty lots next to the canal. As luck would have it, we were able to book two lots, although we were not next to each other and the lots were available for only part of our last week.
After Ralph and I returned to camp, ourselves and the ladies decided to check out the area, we unloaded our bikes and headed out. This is my favorite activity after arriving at a new destination. Exploring a new area.
Just outside the park is a shopping center with several stores including a large discount store, a grocery store, a liquor store, and a sports bar.
After the shopping center, we continued our exploration north along the highway. A wide paved sidewalk and beautiful sunshine made for a pleasant leisurely bike ride. We discovered the Fish House restaurant and a farmer’s market a couple of likely stops for dinner and produce.
Most businesses along the highway had recovered from Irma, our RV park was obviously behind with the cleanup.
We arrived back at camp in time for a relaxing afternoon around the pool. The pool area was inviting surrounded by lounge chairs and tropical cabanas with thatched roofs from palm tree leaves.
There is nothing like spending a mid-November afternoon laying around a pool.……. you gotta love retirement.
Saturday – Nov. 18 to Nov.29 – Day 81 to 92
The next two weeks at Key Largo Kampground were good, but not the iconic experience we hoped for………we made the best of our situation.
What else could we do, our options were few. Canceling our stay would be costly, besides where could we go, the northern Keys were the least damaged by the hurricane.
The weather was great during our stay on Key Largo, sunny and warm except for a few passing warm showers. We had fun times kayaking through the canals, fishing in Henry’s zodiac, and exploring the area on our bicycles.
Our new campsites next to the canal were much nicer than our previous sites. There is always something happening on the water, many creatures happened by, including brightly colored lizards, tropical birds, strange looking fish, and Manatees.
The highlight was the Manatees, large overweight mammals………. a couple with babies at their side. Like most other mammals, they breathe air and drink fresh water.
There’s a theory, Manatees can remove the salt from ocean water, although this theory has not been proven……… it makes sense.
After a couple of well-deserved lazy days in Key Largo, we headed south……… a day trip to Key West. A visit to the Florida Keys is not complete without a visit to Key West, the premier tourist destination of the Keys and the end of the highway.
As we drove south from Key Largo the devastation from Hurricane Irma increased. Debris stacked high on the shoulders of the highway as well as on the middle boulevard.
Capsized boats pushed hundreds of yards from the water, motorhomes and travel trailers laying dead on their sides, pieces of buildings strewn everywhere like a huge discarded puzzle. The area looked like it had been devastated by an atomic explosion.
The RV resort on Cudjoe Key, where we originally planned to stay, was totally flattened resembling long ago pictures of Hiroshima.
Our hearts go out to the resident of the Keys, even if they didn’t lose everything it will take years to repair the mental scars and the infrastructure damage.
Key West is a bustling island town with quaint historic houses including the winter White House of President H. S. Truman. Many boutique hotels and restaurants line the streets of the original town.
The damage from hurricane Irma was not as bad as the central Keys, although cruise ships were forced to by-pass the town for several weeks.
The community came together to quickly repair Irma’s damage to bring back tourists, their main source of revenue.
The Key West harbor is a great place to spend a warm afternoon wandering the boardwalk in summertime temperatures, checking out seaside bars and bistros and a special treat, watching the afternoon fish feeding, a frenzy dominated by huge tarpon.
The tarpon looks like an overgrown herring, the ones hanging around for a free meal were in excess of six feet long. As we hung over the boardwalk rail a thought crossed my mind……….. what would happen if one fell into the water during this feeding frenzy? I quickly put that thought out of my mind.
After several enjoyable hours exploring Key West, it was time to head back to camp. We drove the scenic island perimeter and headed north.
We decided to end the perfect day with an early dinner at a seaside restaurant. Ralph, Lois Lynda and I enjoyed a great fresh seafood meal.
After dinner, as we drove north, the sky darkened and the clouds opened dropping heavy rain turning the highway into a rushing river. At times it was hard to distinguish between the highway and the close by ocean.
The storm ended as quickly as it started before long we were back at camp and the warm sunshine.
Our remaining days at Key Largo were spent relaxing, fishing and exploring the area.
Key Largo is an island of contrasts between newer oceanside subdivisions with immaculate houses with well-groomed properties and old rundown unkept RV parks.
Our group was astonished to realize a vacation destination such as the Florida Keys could display such slum-like areas clogged with old trailers, old cars, old dogs and older people.
Except for the good weather the overall experience of the Florida Keys left us disappointed, much of the area is neglected and in dire need of updating.