Florida or Bust

It’s 25 degrees in Marathon, Texas.  It’s 81 degrees in Marathon, Florida.  Solution:  ROAD TRIP!

Having never been to the Florida Keys, it’s only logical that our next destination, especially in February, be Hemmingwayville (not to be confused with Margaritaville).  So, the next couple of weeks we will chronicle our trip from west Texas to Key West, FL, some 1950 miles away.  We will be joined during the journey by good friends, David and Marcia (see their blog on our Blogroll “AdventureDavid”.

IMG_6428 Start of Trip

First two days were fairly short days.  First night was spent near Amistad National Recreation Area, at a private campground with clean bathrooms, a very friendly counter person, and very few amenities.  Exactly what we needed.  Second night just outside of Houston, TX, at an RV park similar to the first night…easy to get into and easy to leave, with a friendly staff.  No amenities here, either…close to the highway, but far from restaurants or grocery stores.  No problem.

First night at American RV Park, Del Rio, Texas:

IMG_6446 Del Rio 1

Day 2, Houston West RV Park, 35 miles west of Houston, Texas:

IMG_6448 Brookshire

Day 3 dawns cool and clear, and it’s time to hit the road for real, this day.  540 miles to go, so we’re off by 9:00 a.m.  Met up with our friends, David and Marcia, on Dauphin Island, Alabama.  and checked into Dauphin Island RV Park.  We highly recommend the ribs at Dauphin Island Barbecue.  When something exceeds your expectations, it makes you smile…these ribs had us grinning from ear-to-ear.

The next morning, a short walk over to the beach just after sunrise, then it’s time to pack up and head to Florida.  An osprey was underwhelmed at our presence, an intrusion upon his hunt for breakfast.

IMG_6469 Beach Dauphin Is

IMG_6474 osprey

Happy to see the last of I-10 for awhile, we turn south at Tallahassee on Alt 27 and drive the Georgia-Florida Parkway, a reminder of slower cars and times, much like the travels I remember as a kid on Route 66.  The glory days of Florida vacation travel.  Logged another 450 miles today, putting us at a 4-day total of 1,500 miles

Finally in Florida, at Cedar Key, I check my weather app for home and at 10:00 p.m. it’s 63 degrees in Marathon…while my indoor/outdoor thermometer here at the RV park in Cedar Key, Florida, is reading 27 degrees.  Let’s see, what was the motivation to drive 2000 miles to Florida?

And how I love technology.  It’s 6:15 a.m., and I wake with a cold head.  Dark.  Really dark.  It dawns on me that nothing in the camper that uses electricity is working, especially the heaters…and it’s 22 degrees outside!  No lights…no heat.  Troubleshoot.  An inspection of the converter box reveals that the one 20 amp fuse is blown.  No backup fuses (lesson learned).  I steal a 15 amp fuse from another socket in the panel and pop it into the 20 amp socket.  Voila…heater and lights come on.  However, still no 110v heater, or any other 110v outlet, for that matter.  Battery power shown on my volt minder is 12.44 volts.  If the 110v ac power was going through the converter, that should be about 13.85 volts, so nothing is going through the converter.  Walking outside I find a dark campground.  Totally alien, given the fact that half of all RV’ers burn some sort of decorative lights all night long as some sort of RV park ritual or something.  I pull my volt meter from my truck tool box (it’s still dark and 22 degrees), and there is no power at the 30 amp plug.  Relief, because I thought I had blown a converter.  Alas, it’s them and not me.  Hooray!

Cedar Key is quaint…a word totally overused, but in this case, quite appropriate.  A small, historic, old downtown is the Florida of Hemmingway novels.  The restaurant selection is small, but Tony’s is simply the best.  So good, in fact, that we ate there two consecutive nights.  Have the internationally recognized clam chowder.  Do not get the “Super Bowl”  unless you are either starving, or simply want everyone in the restaurant to run over with their cell phones and photograph you eating it.

The operative phrase for Cedar Key is “laid back.”  Some of the flavor:

IMG_0713 Hut IMG_0723

Up early, it’s a long day’s drive from Cedar Key to Key West, Florida (about 550 miles), and speed limits once you reach the Keys drop to 45-55 mph.  We arrive at Boyd’s Key West RV Park just in time to set up in the dark, a somewhat daunting task with short, tight camping spots necessary to maximize valuable real estate on this island.  Success at last, and we settle in for a good night’s rest.

Next morning we check off a required visit to Ernest Hemingway’s House in old historic Key West.  The 6-toed cats are as advertised, and the house is well worth the $13 entry fee.  Second floor veranda and lighthouse in background:

IMG_0764 Hem House

Jodie with one of the sweet 6-toed cats:

IMG_0778 Jodie 6-cat

The study, desk and typewriter, where Hemingway wrote his most famous novels:

IMG_0788 desk

The Key West Butterfly and Nature Conservatory is perhaps the most unexpected treat of our trip so far.  It is a must if you ever get to Key West.  A couple of the more exotic bird-sized moths at the Key West Butterfly and Nature Conservatory were these:

Attacus Atlas Moth (the largest moth in the world).  This one had a wingspan of about 10 inches:

IMG_0834 Moth

And the Actius Luna Moth, with a wingspan of 5-6 inches:

IMG_0835 Luna Moth

Some other notable butterflies whose color, shape and delicate grace made this a memorable experience:

IMG_0799 BF IMG_0801 BF IMG_0807 BF IMG_0826 BF

A hitchhiker on top of David’s hat:

IMG_0805 BF

From the pier at the end of Atlantic Blvd., we are at the southernmost point in the continental United States.  To say the sunset was spectacular would be a lie…it was one of the finest sunsets we have ever seen, anywhere.  On the horizon you can barely define 3-masted sailing ships, probably out for an evening sunset cruise:

IMG_0843 Sunset

IMG_0851 KW Sunset

If you enjoy beautiful sunsets, 80-degree weather in February, and clam chowder, hang with us the next few days as we explore this tropical extreme right here at home.

Published by

texasflashdude

Photography and Travel, specifically adventure travel and backpacking in remote North America, give me an excuse to stay outside. If kayaks, bikes, backpacks, Jeeps, archeology, geology and wildlife can be included, all the better. Having spent my life working in the fashion and photography industries, I love the unusual, the spectacular, and the beautiful. God has given us a wonderful world in which to live, and I try to open others’ eyes to its wonders. I have shared nearly 50 years of this indescribable wonder with my wife, Jodie, and we go everywhere together. I hope you will share some of our journey with us.

2 thoughts on “Florida or Bust

  1. Wait a minute, didn’t you start out with only two cats in your camper, and now there’s three! Oh well, I doubt if Hemingway House will miss one cat since they have forty five.

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