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Day 125 - Hwy 1, Miami to Key West

We made it to the RV Campground at Key West, will start Touring Tomorrow.

semi-overcast 66 °F


Miles Driven - 132
Weather - Cool, Partly Sunny, Some Winds but not a problem
Camped at Boyds Campground on Stock Island, just across a short bridge from Key West.


Interesting day, things never turn out quite the way you assume they will...

Did you happen to notice the Blog is current again? Of course, it took me until past midnight to get it so. Mom would probably say - 'can it'...


The objective for today was to get to Key West, and we did that. Driving hard, we decided to bypass most of the sightseeing and make sure we got there. We may take more time out for stopping on the way back. So there isn't a lot of blogging to do for today.

However, things didn't get off quite as we planned. On our way south, we again stopped at the Wal-mart in Homestead to get Mom's prescription filled (the Pharmacy was closed on New Years when we stopped by on our way to the Everglades). Nasty surprise, somebody in the government figured they could save money by having Seniors prove their eligibility for low income status every year (or at least this year). Somehow, Mom missed the notification, maybe the trip, maybe the government, who knows. Anyway, she went to pick up the prescription and instead of paying $5, her usual co-pay, they wanted $90!

So instead of leaving for the Keys right away, we sat in the RV in the parking lot for a couple of hours trying to call Social Security. It seems another way they've used to save money is to have a phone system that never lets you through to a live body. "Speak or say...". So using two cell phones, a laptop computer, and two people trying to find someone who can explain this to us, we finally succeeded. She has a phone interview scheduled for next Tuesday that will probably reinstate her status so she can get her prescriptions filled.

So we'll try again next week - and in the meantime will try to put that all behind us and get back to our trip! This got easier to do the further south we headed.

The layout as you go south in Florida is first Miami, which is very built up, endless condo's and apartments and very expensive. Further south you get to Homestead - big Air Force Base, a military town (and not too far south of where we'd been camping). Homestead is also where the Wal-mart was where we'd stopped.

Driving further south from the Wal-mart, it was only a few minutes before we saw wetlands on both sides, Egrets along the swampy fields on the sides of the road, and not much human development other than an occasional marina or seafood restaraunt, and not many of them. Homestead seems to be the southern end of development in Florida. From there south until you cross into Key Largo is wetlands.

Highway 1 runs from Maine (yes Maine, not just Miami) to Key West. This section that we're taking today, from Homestead to Key West, is mostly two lanes and wasn't very busy today. They were working on the road on the first stretch, not surprising since many parts of the road seemed to be adversly affected by erosion (or something, the quality was pretty scary at times).

We crossed a fairly high bridge to Key Largo and back into strip malls - but these with a distinctly Scuba Diving or Shell flavor. At the Visitors Center, we picked up additional information about the Florida Keys. Unlike Barrier Islands as we'd seen farther North along the eastern seaboard, the Keys were formed by Coral Reefs during earlier ice ages/warming cycles. Most of the trip to Key West is actually across Islands, with only short bridges or causeways where you're fairly exposed. The famous stretch I'd seen in movies (and assumed would be how most of the drive would be) is a seven mile long bridge between two of the middle keys. So only seven miles of the whole 125 or so is open ocean - the rest is mostly islands and island hopping (short bridges). The name "Key" is a corruption from the Spainish word "cayo", meaning small island.

There was wind today but it wasn't that bad. In hindsight, I could have probably made it on Jan 2nd as we'd originally scheduled, but it will probably be more fun in Key West tomorrow slightly warmer and less windy.

Once we got past the first couple of keys, they became less populated and more beautiful. The water was esecially lovely, we did pull over once on Indian Key and took a few pictures. Some jelly fish had blown up along the shoreline, which I didn't do a very good job capturing. Believe it or not, these pictures were all taken in the same area at about the same time (color variations due to partly cloudy/partly sunny conditions).


When I went to get back into the RV, the wind again caught the door and pulled it a little, sure enough it again fell apart. I guess my 'patch' job wasn't very good! I gently pushed it together enough to get it closed and locked it to prevent us from accidentially opening the door until I can repair it more effectively (we'll have to climb through the front for the moment). Fortune choosing to smile upon us a bit, one of the larger Key's near the middle actually had a Home Depot. I pulled in and stocked up on Wood Hardener, Wood Putty, and super glues.

Along the drive, we passed some sections where an older road (or something or other) paralleled the main road, but we couldn't quite figure out what it was. There were sections missing in some area's, lots of people fishing off it in others, some sections were clearly too narrow for cars. It turns out that before Hwy 1 was built, a developer built a railroad from Miami to Key West. This was the only way to get there other then by ferry. There were also some bridges built between islands, but no through road as there is today. Then on Labor Day in 1935 a Cat. 5 Hurricane struck the Key's and severly damanged the railroad and road bridges beyond repair. The remaining sections have just been left in place next to the new ones built for Hwy 1. Some are blocked off, but others left open as fishing piers.

We really enjoyed the drive, especially as we got past the more built up Keys. There were still a lot of resorts all along this stretch, a few State Parks, and several RV campgrounds. Having lost so much time on the phone this morning, we just drove by the parks and beaches - but did make note of where they were as we'll be driving back this way Sunday! With so much self-discipline, we actually made it to the campground shortly before 4 PM, plenty of daylight left to play with the door. First however, I took a stroll around the campground and took some pictures. We didn't get a waterfront spot, afterall I just called them a few days ago, but we're only about 40' from the ocean!


By the way, we also have an interesting tree by our site here - of a slightly different sort.


The pioneers had to contend with broken wagon wheels, axles and just about everything else that could break and no local Home Depot for repair supplies. I guess we can deal with an occasional flimsy door.

So I broke out the tools, glues, and bravado to see what I could do about the door. After pounding away for some time, it was clear the hinge pins weren't going to come out (probably rusted solid where they don't turn). I decided to leave the door in the frame (to hold it together) and try removing the screws and fixing the screw holes in place. So with lots of fat matchsticks I'd been able to find at the campground store and fancy expanding glue from Home Base, I screwed the thing back together again. We are leaving it locked until tomorrow - give the glue plenty of time to set up. If it will hold up that long, I finally realized the easiest way to fix this (and probably best) - just drill new screw holes and add more screws. Duh. So Sunday when we head back, I'll stop at Home Depot again and get the necessary materials. The door will probably be stronger then it's been since before I bought the RV.

In the meantime, I think my patch job #2 will hold through the weekend so tomorrow we'll set our sights on conquering the Conch Republic (e.g. Key West for you land lubbers)!

Posted by jl98584 20:41 Archived in USA Tagged family_travel

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Hi, We've been enjoying your travels, comments, and pictures. Ed made a similar trip with his grandmother when she was 80. They started in Maine, and went south, to where her "roots" were, in Virginia. They saw the old family Bible, and met people that had known her husband.We are staying in an RV resort in Apache Junction, AZ. Will you be coming home thru this way? Stop and see us! (we're near Phoenix).

by Jeane

Very beautiful photos. Looks like you had a great time with Mike and with the beaches....
I love that weather...true, different than Seattle. Now I am interested in going to Key West. I really enjoyed Orlando, though I didn't get out of the resort much...Florida seems to be a very nice place.

by rllomas

My trip to the Everglades was as much of southern FL as I saw. I have never been to the keys. Our daughter-in-law Kathy has an uncle from our town here who spends every winter on one of the keys, but I don't right now recall the name. He is a world-first-prize postcard photographer--perhaps you can find the name John Penrod on postcards there; here, at least, all the best ones in all the stores around MI, plus calendars, etc., are by him.

When do you expect to hit TX? I'm going on a week-long birding trip around McAllen 3/7-15 and will probably visit R & K either before or after.

by msj

So you are finally in the keys! Enjoy! Mike is staying with us this weekend. IF its not too windy we might go kayaking tomorrow. If it is too windy we'll just go to the Y. How big were the jellyfish? they looked pretty large to me but there was nothing to compare them to. I know you'll have a great time coming back from Key West, but why are you just staying for 1 day?

by drque

I would be tempted to stay longer than one day myself, tropical weather, beautiful beaches..kindof like heaven to me....

by rllomas

Hope everyone is well back home & elsewhere - sounds like the weather truely is getting wilder every hear (but of course, there's no such thing as global warming).
Key West was nice, but a bit expensive. Also we did squeeze in just about all our high priority stuff yesterday, but it made for a very full day (& long blog). It doesn't mean we won't see any more beaches - in fact the Keys don't have that many beaches due to their geology. Tonight, we got REALLY lucky and got a campsite on Long Key State Park. I am sitting about 15 feet from the Ocean (but inside our campsite) and typing away. Unbelievable - these sites are normally reserved a year in advance, I can see why. We may have only spent a day on Key West, but our time with sunny beaches is hardly over... Glad you're all enjoying the pic's!

by jl98584

Oh yes, forgot to address your question about TX - not sure when we'll get there but I'd guess early Feb? Is there a date that works best for you, maybe we can target that?

I was thinking of asking Robert that when we visit him, he pick the itinary. He was saying how we were visiting different sorts of places then he might - so now I'm a bit curious how he would spend his time.

by jl98584

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