~Tuesday, March 14, 2023~
The day started at 6:00 a.m., though it wasn’t the kind where you wake up feeling refreshed. While still dark, Jeff woke up to what he thought was a runny nose until he turned on the light to discover what looked truly like a crime scene. He’s had bloody noses on occasion, but nothing like this one. Poor guy. Usually they’re triggered by altitude changes or exertion. With this one, he thinks it was simply from the heat, though the temps inside the trailer were in the mid 70’s. Maybe high humidity had something to do with it? Thankfully, the bleeding stopped about 30 minutes later and he was able to get a few more hours of restful sleep and alternatively a much better alarm system.
Before getting on with our day, we learned that our new water filtration system and locks had arrived. Yay!! Finally, amazing drinking water is here! Finding our package among the other 100 or so was a breeze. They sure have that RV park mailroom dialed in. I guess when you have over 160 campsites, you have to be. We’re just grateful they offer the service. Now if they only allowed you to wash your rig.😝
We’ve been looking forward to a return visit to Key West for some time, and today’s the day. The 45-mile journey along the Overseas Highway is worth the trip alone with the teal waters of the Atlantic to our left and the Gulf to our right. Along the way, we recognized a few things from our last visit, one being Bahia Honda, a state campground only 45 minutes from Key West and one we’ve tried to get into many times. It is the most in-demand state campground in the Florida Keys that most people only dream of staying. But we’re intrigued with another campground that might prove to be a good backup to Bahia Honda, and also closer to Key West, called Big Pine Key Resort. With the high demand of the area, it’s always good to have options.
Watching the anglers fishing from the most popular bridge in the Keys, was a familiar scene. The Seven-Mile Bridge which runs alongside the newer span, is a great spot for fishing grouper and snapper. Hopefully, they had success! To our left, stands an old, unused rusty rail-bridge from the 1930’s, with sections removed from it years ago to allow boat traffic to move under it.
If Key West was as busy as last time, we knew we’d be in for parking challenges, so opted to bring the bikes to get around town a little easier. Parking the truck about 10 minutes from the southern end of Key West, we rode our bikes from there to the Seaside Cafe at the Southernmost House where we were personally greeted by owner, Michael Halpurn. It seems they’re doing anything they can to keep business going these days when he said, “We’ve never seen a March as quiet as this one. This is supposed to be prime time for tourists.” The last time we were here was during the pandemic, of which you couldn’t even tell there was one. It was off the charts crazy busy. Go figure. Yes, the Spring Breakers are here but not in the normal droves. Even daddy’s credit card can’t or won’t pay the $600/night rates required for a night’s stay in Key West, let alone Spring Break time, when rates can be even higher. Lodging rates have gone up about 30% since last year, so who has money leftover to spend at the shops and restaurants too? After Mr. Halpurn genuinely thanked us for stopping by, we mozied up to his outside bar to start off our Key West visit with our favorites…..me a Mai Tai and Jeff a Painkiller.
No he’s not in pain other than being around his wife too much.
But this sultry drink is a concoction of dark rum, coconut cream, and OJ topped with nutmeg and a garnish of lime. Both added a little sumpin’ sumpin’ to our tropical pleasure.
Maybe we’ll make it another time to take a peek inside Mr. Halpurn’s Southernmost House, now a historic hotel and one that entertained many presidents and writers back in the day, including Harry Truman and Ernest Hemingway.
As we sipped our delicious drinks, we walked the pier and noticed a significant amount of seaweed on the beach, more than we’d seen anytime before. Sargassum Seaweed is not an uncommon site on Florida beaches, but this year is much worse. Evidently there is a giant seaweed blob twice the width of the U.S., and even noticeable from space. It is due to arrive along Florida’s coast in full throttle by July and is already affecting tourism here and in Mexico as well. Intrigued, I couldn’t help but do a little more research on the subject. Scientists are keeping a close eye on this as this seaweed bloom could be the largest in history at 8.7 million tons. But what’s causing it? As nitrogen from fertilizers and other contaminants enter our rivers and ultimately oceans, combined with increased ocean temperatures, the seaweed is blooming at a much faster rate. In open water, sargassum provides a crucial habitat for fish and other marine animals, but on shore it can make it harder for turtles to spawn and hatch. But it could also pose a serious health risk to humans as well, causing respiratory issues. If there’s ever a time to STOP USING FERTILIZERS, this is it. The concentration of what’s being dumped into our water systems is gravely affecting our oceans. And this is just one example. We promise to do OUR part when we have a garden once again.
The bowl of cereal we had for breakfast just wasn’t cutting it, so we decided to have a nice lunch at the Southernmost Beach Cafe
where we’d eaten before. Our request for a beachside seat was easily met since we arrived before the dinner crowd. It was hard to concentrate on our beautiful view with the tutu and fairy winged clad older guy only feet away from us, on the beach. An interesting distraction. For our meal, Jeff decided on the “catch of the day” which was a
Macadamia Nut Crusted Mahi, Mahi and for myself, Shrimp Fettuccine. Both were winners!
With our bikes parked at the southern end, we walked the entire length of Duval Street to the northern end and what a difference the energy level was from one end to the other. Ah, so THIS is where everybody’s hanging out. It’s amazing what they pack into a 1.25 mile-long main street….galleries, fun bars filled with live music and a massive food scene. No wonder it’s nicknamed “the longest street in the world”. It was fun to feel the energy and take note of what to visit when we’re back on Thursday for our sunset cruise.
The drive home was long, but we at least had the entertainment of a playful sky with repeated flashes of light; you know, the kind that lights up an entire sky but way too far away for you to see the actual bolt of lightning. It was quite the show!