Thursday, January 19, 2017

#13 - Wednesday, 18 January 2017 | Florida City, Florida

Tuesday I ventured to the Keys, but never planned to go very far. I had already decided to save Marathon and Key West for when I had more time. With no destination in mind, I drove south on U.S. 1 from Homestead through Florida City and out to Key Largo. I continued through Tavernier and on to Islamorada. The name Islamorada means "village of islands" and locals don't pronounce the first part "eesla" as in La Isla Bonita, but rather as eye-la as in Isla Fisher. The village of about 6500 people is situated on Tea Table Key, Lower Matecumbe Key, Upper Matecumbe Key, Windley Key and Plantation Key. 

Islamorada is where the Netflix series Bloodline is set, and I have enjoyed the first two seasons and am hoping for a third. I stopped at a very nice Starbucks that is attached to the Post Card Inn. I don't think I have often enjoyed my Americano as much as I did then. I was relaxed, in a beautiful spot and had no schedule. The weather was perfect and the surroundings serene.

While I stayed at my sister Lisa's house after my house closing I had read one of her zillion books. In the guest room where I slept, there was a travel guide for southern Florida. I used Notes on my iPhone to record some spots in the Florida Keys I wished to visit. One lunch spot on my list was Islamorada's Hog Heaven Sports Bar & Grill. It looks like a cool spot when you pull into the sandy parking lot, and as you enter the spacious roadhouse style "sports" bar. However, when you pass through the indoors area to the rear bar and seating area you are greeted with a pretty harbor and a spectacular ocean view. I ordered a local craft beer–Islamorada Beer Company Ale–and guacamole and chips. For lunch my server Nike (that's what he called himself and he had gold bling around his neck and earring, etc. with the Nike logo!) recommended the hogfish tacos and they were delicious. I had another ale and walked along their harbor to a beach that protected the Hog Heaven cove. 

Hog Heaven Sports Bar & Grill, Islamorada, Florida Keys

After my incredible chillaxing, I drove back northeast to Key Largo. There I visited John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park. As I drove in green iguanas scurried from the roadside into the forest cover. The first iguana I had seen on the trip was DOR (dead on road) just as my southern lanes of U.S. 1 descended into the Keys. In the park I watched people kayaking and snorkeling while others relaxed on the beach. There were a couple of nature trails and I walked them. The prize photograph was of a Spiny Orbweaver (Gasteracantha cancriformis).

Gasteracantha cancriformis, Key Largo, Florida

I had stayed at the Floridian Hotel in Homestead, Florida for the past three nights and it was adequate. However, it was a bit dingy for my liking and the wifi was poor and the bed horribly soft. So, after my visit to Pennekamp State Park, I drove back north to Florida City, which lies just south of Homestead and is the final town before the Keys. There I had booked a room at the Fairway Inn. It was cheaper and cleaner and the bed, while still too soft for me, was the best of the trip. I showered and laid in the bed processing images, replying to email and writing a personal letter and a couple of post cards. I probably was asleep by 7 and woke at 4 ready to hit the road back toward Chicago. After driving to southern Florida in only two days, I wanted to take three for the return and by 5 a.m. was on my way to Macon, Georgia.

All the best, M

No comments:

Post a Comment