The Keys to Florida

posted in: Family and Friends, Florida | 0

That title should really read “the Florida Keys.” Visiting the Keys is on my bucket list – time to check it off. Our timing was just right. Tim and Amanda are spending the months of December through March in the Florida Keys. They spent December in their 25-foot Airstream and then moved into a rental house on Big Pine Key for 3 months to experience non-moving land life for the first time in 5 years. Check out their latest adventures on Watson Wander.

The Florida Keys – a map that shows Upper, Middle and Lower Keys, and Key West. I didn’t even know they were designated that way.

To reach Tim and Amanda on Big Pine in the Lower Keys, we drove on the Overseas Highway, a 113-mile roadway carrying U.S. Route 1 through the Florida Keys. Large parts of it were built on the former Overseas Railroad, the Key West Extension of the Florida East Coast Railway. No map is necessary because this is the only road that takes you over the bridges and through the islands.

The water had an opaque appearance from days of churning due to windy weather.
Big Pine Key is the second island in the Lower Keys region.
Here on Big Pine we see this sign. We must be in the right place!
Tim and Amanda’s “home” for a few months, with their wheeled home snuggled next to it. I “borrowed” this pic from Amanda’s blog because it was better than anything I took.

It was so good to see Tim and Amanda again and have time to really visit with them. In a switch of roles, the son (Tim) has to work during the day while the Dad (Al) has time to play.

While the kids worked, we spent our first day in the Keys, visiting cruising friends that we had met through Anthony and Annette on Magnolia.  Ted and Sally are wintering on their boat Amici, in Marathon, just a 30 minute drive east of Big Pine Key.

Amici, snuggled in at the dock in Marathon.

Ted and Sally took us on a dinghy ride into Boot Key Harbor. We rode though the Marathon City Marina mooring field. Pretty impressive field. Mooring balls are assigned first come, first served, no reservations. You cannot request a mooring until you are in the mooring field area. Marathon is a very popular place for cruisers so there may not be a mooring available when you want (need) it. There is a waiting list, so boaters can wait in a nearby anchorage and hope they get the call.

There are 226 hurricane strength rated mooring balls.
The moorings are lined up in very straight rows.
We love dinghy rides!!

A turn into Sisters Creek, edged with mangroves.

Boats can anchor in a wide spot in Sister’s Creek with the stern tied off to the mangroves,
Exiting Sisters Creek brought us out to the ocean and Sombrero Beach.
Lunch at Burdines
What a nice afternoon – boats, water, lunch and FRIENDS.

The day was not over yet. Back on Big Pine, Tim and Amanda were ready for a sunset kayak trip. One of the best features of their little rental house is that it sits on a canal and their kayaks are ready to go at anytime.

Amanda and Tim’s orange kayaks. The red kayak is a two-person peddling kayak.
Now that’s a comfy looking seat on the canal. Wonder why no one is sitting there??

We kayaked through the canal and out to the waters between Big Pine and Big Torch Key.

Tim and Amanda tried out the two-person peddling kayak. I think they had a good laugh.
We kayaked around a little spit of an island made of mangroves.
A white ibis high in the mangroves, all alone.
A tiny mangrove digging its roots into the water. Could this be the start of a new island??? Grow little mangrove, grow!

And the sun set on a very good day.

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