October 20, 2012
Ohio Key, Florida
We arrived in the Keys on October 17th. Stopped to see Leslie and Carlie Adams briefly in Key Largo before continuing on to Ohio Key, at mile marker 39, site of Sunshine Key RV Resort; one of the campgrounds in our membership plan. So, we’ll be here until October 23rd for a cost of only $20.00. Not bad! Given that it would cost $88.00 per night if we didn’t have the membership, it was a great deal.
It really feels as though we are in the tropics. First, it has been close to 90 degrees every day we have been here although the first day was sort of cloudy and rainy. Second, the coconut palms, date palms, mangroves, oleander, sea grapes are a dead give away. The Keys are interesting in that the Atlantic Ocean is on one side and the Gulf of Mexico on the other. So, if you are kayaking in the Gulf of Mexico, all you have to do is simply kayak under one of the bridges and voila, you are in the Atlantic Ocean. Of course, both are warm; about 85 degrees so I find myself jumping into the water to “cool off”. The sun is brutal but at least when on the water, there is always a breeze. It is also very humid. When the breeze dies down at night, it is very stifling.
Ohio Key is 39 miles from Key West so it is one of the “lower” keys. It is so small, that we circumnavigated it in the kayaks today. Then we circumnavigated Little Duck Key as well. The water in this area is very shallow. In order to use a big boat, you would have to really be familiar with the channels. We spent two hours paddling today and spent most of that time in about 18 inches of water.
Yesterday, we went to Bahia Honda Key State Park, the next island over from Ohio Key where we are staying. The campground there has electric and water service but only about 15 sites would be suitable for a larger RV. Tents and small RVs would work great. There is a nice boat ramp and we kayaked out in the Atlantic to a deserted mangrove island which we promptly conquered and christened “Joanne Key”. There was a sandy area where we could beach and coral tidal pools surrounding a few mangrove trees. The Atlantic side was quite rough but not as rough as Lake Superior was last year. And, it was warm! We went swimming and then struck off for the Gulf of Mexico side where the water was virtually flat because the wind was coming from the Atlantic side (east) but we couldn’t find any sandy beaches to land on for lumch. So, we found a large sandy area about 18 inches deep, got out of the kayaks, “anchored” them using the paddles like poles stuck in the sand, and sat eating our lunch with the warm water lapping around us. It was wonderful!
The only thing that takes away from the beauty of the Keys is the noise of the traffic. You can never get away from the noise because the keys at this end are small and chained together by bridges which, needless to say, carry traffic. There is only one way in and out of the Keys so….unless you are on one of the larger keys, like Marathon or Big Pine Key, the traffic noise is always there. Still, the sky is an ever changing palette of clouds and color and at night, the stars are quite clear with a sky flashing from the flare of far off lightening. You can literally see for miles across the water and somewhere, far away, there’s quite a storm each night. Thankfully, we’ve only had one night of storms.
There are many birds, some small lizards, iguanas and I finally saw a pod of dolphins in the marina this morning chasing the small fish that were leaping out of the water in an effort to get away. The marina is clearly the deepest area around and the dolphins are smart enough to know that. In fact, the marina is the only place we have seen any tropical fish like a queen angel fish and parrotfish and the little sergeant majors.
We’ve met some nice folks here with some interesting lifestyles. There is something to be said about the freedom and courage to simply pick up your family and live on the road; here for a year, then somewhere else.
At the suggestion of one of the “locals” at the RV park, we went to Big Pine Key and right at the bridge leading to No Name Key, we found No Name Pub, the oldest restaurant/pub on Big Pine Key, founded in 1936 first as a general store, then expanded to include a brothel and finally, in its current iteration as a pub. They make a great sangria and smoked tuna salad and the pizza was awesome. The real draw of this place though, is the dollar bills that cover every square inch of the place and I mean every square inch. I’ve been places where the walls are covered with dollars; not that unusual. However, what is unusual about this place is that the dollar bills hang vertically from the ceiling. They estimate that there are $140,000.00 hanging from the ceiling or pasted in multiple layers on the walls. We asked the manager how they insure the building, and he replied that the dollars really don’t belong to them….they belong to those who contributed them. Interesting theory from a income tax and real estate tax perspective.
Tomorrow, Key West during Fantasy Fest….should be interesting.