March 12th - 13th
The beautiful water off US1 heading south to Sugarloaf Key and Key West.
Mallory Square during the daytime.
The Southernmost Point of the Continental United States.
Key West Sunset.
Having a great time!
For the first time ever, we hit the road on time at 0900. It was starting to sprinkle, and we loaded the bike before the rain hit. On the road to get fuel, the bottom let loose and we hit rain leaving West Palm Beach. No worries though because we were on time!
John talked with a camper friend prior to leaving who suggested we take the Florida Turnpike to Key West. He said it would bypass almost all of Miami but there was a toll. John, being the tight wad he is, figured I95 would be just as good and probably faster since the speed limit was 70 MPH. Boy did he make a mistake! I95 was backed up to a crawl for about 30 miles outside of Palm Beach (almost all the way to Fort Lauderdale were thought). Miami was not better. The 45 MPH speed zone inched along at 25 MPH. About 100 Street SW, John decided to finally hit the Turnpike and off we went south to Key West.
US1 to Sugarloaf Key (Mile Marker 20 enroute to Key West) was a nice road and 45 - 55 MPH the entire way. The stoplights weren't timed too well but the folks down here aren't in a hurry to get anywhere. With the Jimmy Buffet CD in the player, we enjoyed the music and scenery the entire way. Back home you see pelicans every now and then flying parallel with the beach, but down here they are everywhere. They even park themselves on bridge walkways; they're fishing right along side the humans. We were probably as much a traffic problem as everyone else because of the beautiful sites and water along the way.
We called Sugarloaf Key KOA ahead of time to ensure space. Once over the bridge to Sugarloaf Key, the campsite was the first left. Checking in went smooth and we were even able to pull through another site to our own (there are no pull through sites here). Setting up camp in record time because of the sun and heat (85+ degrees) we hopped on the bike and headed for the beach. We both took a dip in the 75+ degree water. It was great! Dinner and laundry were next and we finished by 2100.
It took a little longer than usual at the laundry because of Spring Breakers. While taking a break on the bench seat just outside the showers, John wanted to spend a little extra time checking out the sites (before shower and after shower). Have you ever noticed the bumps on clean t-shirts after some fine thing has just taken a shower and not completely dried off? John did!
We also talked with a few guys who were Spring Breaking it in tents. Kelly (the most talkative) was from East Tennessee State. His major was Criminal Justice because he wanted to be a Forest Ranger. He said they give you a 4 wheel drive, a gun and want you to go find other people's pot. Do you think that guy will get hired? Probably! Kelly also told us about a college mate of his. The guy drank so much the night before, he went back to the tent after stuffing his pockets with some BBQ ribs at the campground restaurant. While inside the tent, he ate some ribs and passed out. Not knowing he had pitched his tent on an ant hill, the ants ate all of the BBQ sauce from his face while he was out cold. The next morning he had a hangover, a terrible sunburn from the day before, his ankles were swollen to the size of grapefruits and his face looked like he had the measles. Isn't Spring Break fun?
The next morning (Wednesday) we headed to Key West on the bike. We took our time enjoying the 20 mile ride and stopped at the first Welcome Center on the island to pick up a map and brochures. Traffic was medium-heavy, but we found a parking space in Mallory Square with no problems. We took pics, walked around through the historic district (including Duval Street) and ate lunch at Billie's Bar and Grill. John had conch chowder with a shrimp salad sandwich and Sissy had a beef BBQ with fries. After lunch, it was more riding around to see the sights and take pics. Sissy wanted to find the southern most point of the U.S., so we asked directions from several people (who didn't have a clue). We finally were able to locate a knowledgeable person in a hotel lobby, and off we went to the buoy.
The southern most point is marked with a buoy (on land) which has inscribed "90 miles to Cuba." There were several tourists getting their picture taken while standing in front of the buoy, but the person taking the pics was a panhandler. The sign on the fence read "CAUTION! DO NOT LET STRANGERS USE YOUR CAMERA TO TAKE YOUR PICTURE - PAN HANDLERS!" We opted to let an older tourist couple take ours.
We wanted to watch the sunset from Mallory Square with the thousands of other tourists, but we figured it would be better to bring the truck back instead of wasting the afternoon in the heat. Riding back through the Historic District trying to avoid the tourists on scooters, it was back to the campground and beach for a cool dip in the ocean, a few cool ones and a cool shower.
About 1630 we headed back into Key West with the truck encountering much more traffic along the way and inside the Historic District. We parked at the Municipal Lot (under the Police Station) and walked the 7 or 8 blocks to Mallory Square. And, since the sun wasn't going to set for an hour or two, we headed for Duval Street where we saw some sights. We also hit the watering holes at Gumbo's and Sloppy Joes to sufficiently put us in the mood for the sunset.
The people, the entertainers, the liquid refreshments and the sunset at Mallory Square were better than great! Everyone in the world should come to Key West and savor the experience; we had a blast. We even met a couple from Cape Cod, Mass. (Steve and Lynn) that we hooked up with for dinner later on. We ate at a very nice Italian restaurant on the beach called la Restaurante'. It was open, not crowded at all and had outstanding food. All four of us opted for the 20 ounce rib eye with mashed potatoes.
We almost went skinny dipping in the ocean after dinner (Steve and Lynn are nudists) but elected to pass and head back to the campground. It was getting late, and we didn't want to encounter any law enforcement problems in Key West. Steve and Lynn offered to take us to a nudist beach in Cape Cod on our return trip, and we may just have to do that!
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