Thursday, March 31, 2011

Life on a bike in the Florida Keys

March 31st
Bahia Honda State Park to Sugarloaf Key
32 miles (22 on route)

We took our time leaving Bahia Honda this morning. We ate a great filling breakfast, a Greg original creation, pancakes with bits of fruit, topped with peanut butter and honey. We are in for another beautiful, sunny day in Florida. We left the campground at 1 pm, in no real hurry to get to our next spot, which was yet to be determined, but likely around 20 miles down the road. The sun has been hard on our skin and I seem to be breaking out in hives or blisters from the sun and heat. Even when we are completely doused with sunscreen it seems to feel like our skin is on fire.

We rode through a very picturesque part of the keys, crossing many bridges over channels. The water is unbelievably blue and turquoise in color. You can easily see fish swimming below the channels in the waterways. Mangrove dominates the landscape and especially tidal areas. The Keys are not known for sandy beaches and most areas not covered in mangroves are a rocky shoreline composed of ancient coral. Bahia Honda (pronounced Bay-uh Honda) is unique for the fact that it has a sandy beach, one of the few places in the Keys where sea turtles can nest. We visited one of these sandy beaches yesterday, but because the wind was blowing at the beach the water was a little cloudy and Greg didn't like the idea of stepping on a Portuguese man-of-war. The Man-of-war is a conglomeration of organisms live together and end up looking like a jellyfish with a sail. They are extremely poisonous and can cause respiratory issues if stepped on or touched, even after they have dried up and died. I spotted several dead ones on this beach and that was enough for Greg (don't tell him I said it!)

We made it through the hot day by stopping in the shade occasionally and stopping at cafes for cold drinks and rest. We stopped at Mangrove Mama's and had some Arnold Palmers and an appetizer to cool off after lunch. While we were sitting outside at the restaurant, out of nowhere, a big palm frond fell down out of a palm tree and almost hit me on the head if an umbrella hadn't deflected it! I had to laugh because I can say I've never been hit by a falling palm frond before.

Greg and I eventually made it to a nice side street with a great bike path leading to a natural area we had hoped to camp at. Unfortunately there was a sign indicating that this area was closed to the public at night, so we were left with the dilemma of where to camp. Mediocre hotels around here run about $160 a night and the only other option was a KOA Kampground. We paid more to camp here than we usually pay to stay in a hotel, a whopping $60 with tax for a campsite! It was nothing impressive as a campsite and if there had been another camping option we would have taken it. However, aside from yards, all vacant land was either swampy sand or a tangle of mangroves. We did get to swim at the pool at the KOA (yes, a campground with a cafe and a pool, weird we know.) Greg and I ended up practicing our synchronized swimming routine and practiced it in tune with the music playing at the bar. It was a great time, we felt like we were eight years old again. We had a nice ending to a lazy day and settled in for a peaceful sleep.


Looking out over a channel

Roadside Shade

Dani's wrist with heat rash

Heat rash on my elbow

Cyclist's tan, haha

An anole; we see them everywhere down here

We never saw a key deer, but they are an endangered species and we rode through a refuge where they live

Greg at the Mangrove Mama's Cafe

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