Sunday, September 28, 2008

Florida - The Keys to Paradise

(Click on title for photo slideshow)

Florida is not on its best behavior in late September. It is too hot to breathe unless you are in the water and the mosquitos are relentless.

With that in mind, we decided to head for the Florida Keys and try our luck at camping in Bahia Honda State Park.

Two hurricane scares had evacuated the out-of-state visitors (we don't call them tourists anymore), so we pretty much had the place to ourselves. A huge exodus of bikers started at Largo and continued to pass us going the opposite direction until we reached our destination a bit north of Big Pine Key.

Bahia Honda is paradise on earth is beyond question. Even with the sweltering heat, daily rain and Off Deep Woods resistant mosquitoes, we were treated to a delightful experience.

It was our first camping experience in an RV but our companions were old hands and showed us how to rough it. We never did get the sattelite TV dish set just right, but the TV had a DVD player, so no worries.

I honed my camping skills to the point that I needed almost nothing to survive other than a car to go to the nearest restaurant. Our friends weren't into campside cooking in this heat thank goodness.

Bathroom trips required planning. The one in the trailer was really too small for all but the most urgent trips. However, the camp shower facilities offered everything we needed ... with the exception of an entrance door, a bug zapper and air conditioning. A fan would have been welcome! I learned to dress quickly and leave the primping for later.

It was lobster season, limit 6 a day within size limits, but we took pity on them and left them to grow. (translation: didn't have the equipment needed to tickle them out and net them up).

It was wonderful to take a dip in the bath temperature water in the Atlantic at sunrise and walk a few hundred feet to swim in the Florida Bay in the evening.

The guys took the boat out and caught lots of fish, but we were environment friendly. (translation: who wants to clean fish when it is this hot and buggy)

I found bags full of small sponges, coral trees, shells and seeds for my friend to use in a collage and managed to snorkle a tiny bit near the shore and see some colorful little fish.

Our trip to Key West offered new sights as we had never visited the Memorial Garden near Mallory Square or Martello Castle and managed to see both floors of the Mel Fisher Museum. We always spend a day in Key West where we are treated to my husband's recital of childhood exploits while we pass various sites and homes. Usually we ride the Conch Train, but at $32 it has become too pricey for those of us who know what to look for. I was surprised they kept their rates high rather than add a few passengers to the trains that were running with only a few people on board.

The day went so fast as we were constantly finding things to photograph at several angles and late afternoon rain canceled our plans to do the traditional sunset at Mallory Square.

So, there are still things to look forward to next time.

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