On our last day at Melbourne we woke to pouring rain, which we haven’t seen for weeks because Florida never got one drop of rain in October. No rain for a month is very uncommon for Florida, because it usually rains every day for half an hour or so. Of course the rain delays the Space Shuttle so I guess we’re just not destined to see it at all.
Janice made crab cakes last night and we had been out late enjoying the warmth of the tropical breeze.
We made it to Southgate Village RV Park in Vero Beach about noon the next day, after losing the owner’s cell phone number and then getting lost for half an hour because our GPS, (Susan) couldn‘t cough up the address.
We met with Ed and Judy, (BJ’s sister and her husband) at their spacious and modern condo on a private golf course in Vero Beach. The weather had turned cold and rainy so we sat on their covered deck for a couple of hours and swapped stories about Lisa and BJ.
Just kidding Lisa. Well kind of…
We did lots of walking around Vero Beach and drove to Fort Pierce, killing time, hoping that the launch would go off on Friday. But, no, they had to hold it back for another crummy little gas leak. I’m starting to think they do this stuff on purpose. There are thousands of people who come to the area for the launch and, the more delays that NASA announces, the more the frustrated tourists hang around, spending their money.
Today is Saturday, sunny but cool. We’re pulling up stakes and heading for somewhere more southerly.
Well, now I know why they claim that Vero Beach is the official start to the tropics. No sooner had we hit the road then, when I looked to my left, the ocean had turned all the beautiful shades of turquoise and green that makes it undeniably tropical.
From Palm Beach through Miami Beach the mansions are truly incredible. Many of them have the Atlantic ocean on one side and the Intra Coastal Waterway on the other. Double waterfront if you will, with the accompanying fifty or one hundred-foot yacht gracing a slip out front - or is that the back? I never truly realized until now just how much money I don’t have. The West Vancouver waterfront, in comparison to what we’ve just seen, would be the weak, crippled, little sister.
There was nowhere to park the RV near Miami Beach so we had to be content to do our people watching from the traffic snarl on Highway 1. We reached Homestead, at the head of the Florida Keys, just after lunch and decided to go and explore Key Biscayne National Park, about ten minutes away.
On the way to the park we noticed people pulled over to the side of the road and were trying to figure out why when suddenly a screaming roar ripped the air, coming from our right. We barely had time to duck when one of the Blue Angels shot by, three feet overhead. Okay, maybe three hundred feet. We pulled over and were treated to the complete Blue Angels show that lasted half an hour or so. Incredible, and free too.
Pictured are a few moves provided by the Blue Angels, that were the finale of a two-day air show that we had been unaware of, as well as a shot of Miami from Key Biscayne National Park, where there wasn’t really that much to see, unless you’re a scuba diver.
We arrived in The Keys in less than ideal conditions because, while we could tell that the colours of the water would have been breathtaking under sunny skies, the cloud cover dulled the effect. Still, it is beautiful if a little unearthly here. The waters are very shallow for miles around and there is no height of land over five or six feet.
We set up camp at Curry Hammock State Park, which has twice won The Best State Park in America award. We were very lucky to get our spot right on the water because the park is usually booked months ahead. We had gone online and been able to book it less than a week ahead due to a cancellation. Last night at a camp fire on the beach we had people complaining that they’d been coming here for seven years and had never been able to score a waterfront campsite.
Cuba is just ninety miles from here. Janice raised the ire of one of the Floridians at the camp fire, a retired dentist from Sarasota, when she asked about the ‘Wet Foot/Dry Foot’ rule that some other people we’d met had mentioned to us in passing. Apparently this rule applies to the Cubans seeking refugee status. If they’re caught with one foot in the water or on one of the bridges here, they can be deported. If they have both feet on terra firma, they’re then treated as refugees.
The dentist replied aggressively, “Cuba is where all our problems come from. You let one in and pretty soon they have all their family here too.”
Janice replied, “Well, it must be terrible to hate the place you live in so much that you’d risk your life to get away from it, leaving your family behind and getting onto a piece of plywood or an old car hood to attempt crossing such dangerous waters” The dentist’s wife replied, “They don’t hate it, they just want a better life.”
I think they were still cranky because the Canadians had snatched their waterfront campsite. So I shot back, “Duh!” and then kicked sand in their faces before we left.
Luckily for us, one of the other Floridians, who had been to Cuba in 1999, interjected, “North Americans need to go there to witness the complete and “abstract” poverty the Cubans are subjected to.” While we appreciated his coming to our defense, I’m pretty sure the ‘abstract’ instead of ‘abject’ part, which he repeated a couple of times, kind of tore a hole in his argument as far as the dentist was concerned. It was effective enough though because it seemed to shut the argument down though. I guess nobody wanted to challenge somebody who‘d actually been there.
Pictured is the sunset from The Seven Mile Bridge near our campsite.
Today, Tuesday, we woke to sunny skies and temperatures that were forecasted to reach back into the 80‘s so we decided to rent kayaks from the park office. Just $21.00 for a two-person kayak for two hours. The water is shallow just about everywhere around here and the Mangrove forests grow right to the water’s edge, which makes for interesting critter watching. As we rounded the last little island, headed for home, we ran into a lot of Pelicans, Cormorants and a Heron all perched within fifty feet of each other.
Pictured are: Tim about to get launched; Janice finding the end of the Mangrove tunnel and Janice’s shots of some birds.
Later we went to Sombrero Beach at Marathon, where the swimming and snorkeling are excellent due to the firm sand and calm, clear water. It is somewhat cooler than what we’ve been spoiled with lately though due to the Gulf Stream mixing with the cooler water of the Gulf of Mexico.
Pictured is Sombrero Beach and sunset at the beach right out front of our campsite at Curry Hammock State Park.
As I send this off I'm sitting on the deck outside our room at the Southermost Hotel at Key West. It's a truly fabulous facility and unbelievable location. I'll detail the goings on with our generous hosts, Robyn and Dale in the next blog.