Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Easy ridin' in the Keys

Key Largo to Long Key
37 miles

The crazy thunderstorm last night cooled down the air enough that we were able to actually sleep in relative comfort. Our cold adapted bodies are balking at the heat and humidity at night and continue producing copious amounts of sweat. This on a foam sleeping pad leads to a generally uncomfortable situation. Once we woke up, we played the waiting game, waiting for our gear to dry out. Down here, however, nothing dries very well because the humidity is so high.

Once we packed up and left, we were running a little behind, but no big deal as the distances we are covering lately are pretty short. The riding in this area has been easy as can be. The overseas highway connects all the Keys (also highway 1), and actually has a nice shoulder. In addition to this, there is a great multi-use trail called the Florida Heritage Trail that is separated from the highway, and runs much of the distance. The biggest hills in this part of Florida are actually the bridges. The winds, though constant, have not been very strong, and are very welcome to help off set the high temperature and humidity.

In addition to the easy riding conditions, the views are fantastic. The islands themselves are covered in dense scrubby vegetation and some trees ranging from mangroves to palms. The ocean is always present, and sea life is more visible here than anywhere I have ever been. We discover at least one new bird species a day that neither of us has seen before. The bays and inlets and full of schools of fish that are visible from the bridges and the highways. While we were riding over a bridge today, Dani pointed out and came to a quick stop. She spotted a sea turtle! It has huge, and then a few other appeared. We ended up seeing a group of four, and we think they were loggerheads.

A while later, we saw a restaurant/bar called Robbie's that is famous for it's tarpon. No not for eating them, for the tarpon at their docks. We stopped in a bought a buck of bait fish and fed the huge tarpon that were swimming right below us. Some of these fish weigh up to 200 pounds! It was incredible to see them so close.

We finished the day at Long Key State Park. We had an amazingly beautiful campsite right on the ocean. After we set up camp we went snorkeling right from our site and had a great time. We saw many different sponges and corals, and a decent number of fish. When we got back to camp, Dani found a Portuguese Man Of war jelly fish, and I think that about does it for me. No more swimming in the ocean! These things are terrible. The town by the state park has no restaurant or grocery store, but they do have a gas station. We ended up buying a supper of gas station food that turned into macaroni and cheese with corned beef hash. Not exactly gourmet, but it worked. Luckily the breeze is strong here, so we might be in for another good night's sleep.


Greg cooling off his toes

Dani riding on the Heritage Trail

Bike trail

Dani feeding some huge tarpon

This one almost took Greg's arm off

Sea Turtle!

Great campsite and Long Key

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