A Middle Key Gem
~Monday, March 13, 2023~
Good news! The water’s back in business, at least for the time being. However, we’re just a little worried about the water quality, especially when the pressure is not that great. Looks like another BWA (boil water advisory) is in effect which is oh so reassuring isn’t it?
Water issues or not, we’re excited to have another 3 days in The Keys. Being the planners that we are, we wanted to come up with an itinerary that considers our weather forecast. Since partially cloudy skies guarantee a more spectacular sunset, we chose Thursday to be our schooner sunset cruise in Key West (one of our 2 days exploring that area). We also hope on one of our mornings, to rent a few single kayaks to do our own tour through the nearby mangroves, and possibly a day of snorkeling. Dry Tortuga National Park would have fitted that bill had we known to book it months in advance. The 2-½ hour boat ride to the island has some of the best snorkeling in Key West, so we’ll note it for next time. For today, it was all about finding a beach for Sadie.
Sombrero Beach in Marathon was recommended to us by Blair (our fellow Lance neighbor). And lucky us, it’s dog friendly. But when we arrived, something seemed off as we couldn’t find one single dog on the beach. So we kept walking further through the park, a little more away from the crowds where low and behold, we finally found a few canines romping in the water. Jeff’s research was accurate after all. Once we found our plot of sand and had a look around, we realized what a special find this was.
With its soft sand and turquoise waters, this Middle Key gem is evidently where the locals go. There is free parking adjacent to the beach, picnic pavilions, a children’s playground, sandy volleyball courts, restrooms and showers. Activities range from snorkeling to paddleboarding to kayaking. And there were young people everywhere. Yes, “spring breakers” have descended on the Florida Keys. Once again, we were entertained by the local wildlife from diving pelicans to dolphins chasing their afternoon meal. We’ve never seen so many jumping fish in their efforts to get away (sorry guys, I missed capturing this moment on film).
With very few dogs on the beach, Sadie seemed to be the source of everyone’s amusement and an opportunity for me to meet several dog lovers.
One lady I met was on vacation from the Tampa area and shared her story about her beloved 11 year-old lab who had recently passed away from a bout of seizures. This was quite disturbing to hear since her dog was very healthy up until then. Another woman I met, getting her dog fix with Sadie, was on vacation with her adult children from Missouri, renting a VRBO right across the street from where we were standing. This vacation was a year in the making since prior to that, she had retired from her 30 years of teaching to become a full-time caregiver for her mom who was battling Alzeimers for 2 years. Sadly, her mother succumbed to this awful disease about a year ago. Evidently, her parents were married for 60 years, not only loving to travel, but living to travel. Their daughter got the same gene and has had the pleasure of seeing much of the world. But now, she’s ready to explore what’s in her own backyard of the United States, so naturally, she was very interested in our experience. And I am always impressed by any woman who is willing to do this solo. Jeff and I have seen many women traveling alone, most in Class C’s or sprinter vans. She said she would never want to tow anything since it is a bit more difficult to maneuver independently. A sprinter van appeals to her the most. At 58, she has a great sense of adventure and fearlessness. So maybe in a year’s time after she sells her parent’s home, we’ll be hearing all about Amy’s own road adventures.
Completely baked by sun and caked with sand, we were ready to head back to the campground. We stopped at the grocery store to pick up a few ingredients for dinner and a few bottles of Gatorade to rehydrate. While Sadie and Jeff walked over for sunset time at Tiki Island, I had a few important things to tend to at “home”. While there, Jeff ran into our neighbor Blaire, sharing the day’s events. Blaire and his wife had done a number of kayak outings in the area, so Jeff picked his brain as to which ones were the best. We originally had our mind set on Curry Hammock, but Blaire suggested launching from Sombrero Beach (where we were today). We had noticed kayak rentals earlier in the day there but didn’t know just how good the paddling would be. It’s supposed to be terrific! So Sombrero Beach it is!