Florida Keys and Everglade Photos - 1998
FRI 1.23.98

We woke up around 10am, had breakfast, and went out to the docks. There was a pelican poking around in the pier next door, ibis wandering the sand with their tall, white bodies and long, curved beaks. Lots of gulls flying overhead. I can never tell them apart - you have to see black rings and red spots on their beaks. I'm rarely able to do that!

Next we headed south! There were many bridges. The water was turquoise and blue, and while some islands were all multi-trunked mangrove trees in water, or palm trees, others were covered with motels and bars. Usually the only main road was ours, running right through the middle. Many pelicans and gulls. Eventually, after the seven-mile bridge (blown up in True Lies [OK, they blew up a duplicate they built! Did you know the mansions they used were in Newport?]), we hit Pine Key, home of the famous Key Deer!

Key Deer are the tiniest deer anywhere, the size of medium-sized dogs. Greyhounds. They were down to 20 of them back in the 1930s, and are now up to 300. There were signs everywhere warning not to run over the deer (they are all wild), and other signs saying 4 had been killed already this year. You can't feed them - that would tame them and more would be killed by cars. We turned down the drive and drove all the way (slowly!) to the northern end of the island. There were lots of tall pines and palms in this area. The road dead-ended in the forest that surrounded us. Something crossed the dead-end spot ahead of us.

"Look, a deer!" I called out excitedly. "Nah, it's a dog," replied Bob. We crept forward in the car. It was a Key Deer! It was teeny. I grabbed for the camera but by the time we got it set the deer had wandered off into the forest and was gone. It was the only one we saw down there - apparently many people never see any!

We turned around and went back to the hiking trail. Lots of turkey vultures circled above, but few other birds were seen. Two lizards, and many yellow butterflies were the only creatures on the trail. Everything was very dry.

On to the Blue Hole, a mile away. I scanned the sides of the medium-sized lake with the binoculars - a gator was sunning on a rock! And a HUGE turtle was on another one. Most people coming over only saw the smaller turtles near the dock, the sunfish and other tiny fish. We lent our binoculars to many. There was also a huge orange Koi that someone had released into the pond.

After a while we continued on. Various keys went by, some just tree-covered. Many fishermen lined the bridges now, or the older unused bridges that paralleled ours. Pelicans sat happily next to them, watching the water or snoozing. A huge frigatebird sailed overhead. Eventually we crossed onto Key West! What a huge pile of development. Many hotels and restaurants, although in the back roads there were also many run-down houses. Apparently Duval Street, the main drag, was "just this side of safe" two decades ago. Now it's all flashy tourist traps.

We drove past their only 3 beaches. Built on purpose? Trucked in sand? On to the "Southernmost point in the US". I don't think they're counting Hawaii! We took our obligatory pictures there. We drove past Hemmingway's House. Then we parked near the "life of the town" across from the Audubon House and started wandering.

We went up and down Duvall, saw Turtle Kraals (we had a coupon, so I had a lime margarita) near the Half Shell Raw Bar. There were tons of huge boats around the docks. We saw Sloppy Joes, and also the "Original" Sloppy Joes, where Hemmingway hung out. We saw the Green Parrot, oldest bar. Hog's Breath, famous but touristy. Then on to Marion Square.

This is the traditional "sunset watching" spot and the vendors were out in force. This was Bob's favorite part - watching fire swallowers, a sword swallower, tightrope walkers, and a pretty good magician that made a spider appear on my hand. Lots of boats and planes went past us. It was a bit cloudy, so the sunset was reds poking out. Pretty. We went back to Kelly's, owned by Kelly McGillis and supposedly very good (although laid back looking, like everything down in this section). We ended up eating at Hog's Breath for our coupon . We drank Hog's Breath Beer, and I had "Dolphin" (mahi mahi, the flat-headed fish, not the cute Flipper kind). With chips (fries). It was delicious! Then we headed home for some sleep.

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