One of the places I really wanted to see as part of this whole crazy trip was the Florida Keys. I’d heard so many awesome things about traveling the 7 Mile Bridge and feeling like you were in some tropical paradise. The land of the Conch People being some weird, beautiful slice of free-spirited, wild-hearted heaven. Neon pastel colored houses dotting tiny little atolls in turquoise water. And, oh yeah, key lime pie!
I talk Ashley into a day trip…and then we realize it’s 3+ hours to Key West…each way. Well, when else are we going to see the southern-most city in the U.S. (not counting Hawaii)? We say, “what the heck” and pack Jackson into the truck for a very long day trip.
The first key along the route is Key Largo: a diver’s dream as evidenced by the innumerable SCUBA shops, schools, and tour outlets. It’s evident that this little island’s main road is tourist central. We hope the rest of the drive will be a bit more scenic.
Our first stop is a dog park on Marathon, about halfway through our voyage southwest. The park itself is lovely, and Jackson has fun fetching from us, but there are sadly no other pooch pals for him to play with. The park itself abuts the ocean with a small channel that dives between some mangrove trees. It even has a public boat launch that gives a great panoramic of the environment.
We continued our trek to the southernmost point in the Continental United States. The further we went the less and less we felt like we were in the U.S. and more and more like we were crossing bridges onto some island in the Caribbean. The houses splashed with vibrant pink and green pastels, the turquoise water, the mangroves. Wow, gorgeous!
When we finally made down to the Conch Republic, we realized we sadly had very little time before we had to start heading back to the rig; it was over 3 hours to get here, and we’d need to be doing those same 3+ hours back to our camp in the dark. We decided our two priorities were to jump in the ocean and get a slice of key lime pie (obviously).
On the way back, the sunset in our rear view mirror was too spectacular to ignore. Ash and I found a little turn off somewhere near the Seven Mile Bridge to stop and enjoy the absolute splendor of the moment. We always feel that sometimes people take these times for granted, but we’ve promised each other to always take a pause to enjoy the simple pleasure of the intense showing of colors we get on a daily basis. I don’t like to tell people what to do, but I’d strongly suggest anyone reading this should do exactly the same.
After all was said and done, maybe the journey of 6+ hours round trip (and the associated diesel costs…ouch) weren’t totally worth it given how little we actually got to do in the Keys. But the journey is part of it and every day Ash and I are on the road is another new opportunity to make memories I never would have if not for our trip. All I can say is I’m totally loving life these days.
We are off to our first Escapee Co-Op for our first full week stay anywhere. We’ll be there for Thanksgiving, the first big family holiday we will be away from home for. We’re hoping that the Escapee family we read about will be welcoming and help dull the sting of being on the road for turkey day.