Oh Florida. Florida Florida Florida. We spent close to a week exploring your beaches, islands, state parks, national parks, and campgrounds. You never failed to be beautiful, and yet you are full of extremes that made life for Micha a tad difficult. You were extremely hot and humid, which made sleeping in a little metal box without even so much as a fan a tiresome affair. You harbor extreme amounts of hungry blood sucking insects, many of which found their way to my seemingly delicious California flesh. You are home to a large variety of extremely large members of the animal kingdom including alligators, manatees, Florida panthers, and the biggest spiders I have ever seen. This, in a nutshell, is how I feel about Florida, but I know you all want some details so let me start from the beginning.
We left Savannah and headed straight down into Florida, stopping at a state park on the beach about halfway down the Atlantic coast. The campground was really crowded, and we parked our little teardrop on a slice of property about eight feet wide in between two behemoth RVs. It was about dinnertime when we arrived, and there was not a soul to be seen outside. I scoffed to myself about how locking yourself up in an RV isn’t real camping, we are real nature lovers, blah blah blah. Silly naïve little Micha. Those people weren’t inside watching their televisions because they don’t enjoy nature, they were inside protecting themselves from the Earth’s cruelest creature: the “noseeum.” This tiny little fly is small enough to fit through the screens of the teardrop, and has the bite (and appetite) of a thousand mosquitoes. We spent the evening applying and reapplying our weak bug spray and trying to prevent bites by crawling under the covers, which only succeeded in turning the teardrop into an uncomfortable sauna.
At two o’clock in the morning I announced I’d had enough, and we packed up and headed to the nearby Mega Box Store to stock up on better bug spray. We figured since we were already up we might as well drive down to the Keys and beat any traffic we would have encountered during the day. We arrived at the campground on Key Largo early the next morning and spent the first part of the day napping in a hammock and cooking some breakfast at a picnic table near the beach.
The Florida Keys in October are hot, sticky, and humid. We found a local radio station that specialized in rumba, and we tried to embrace the weather and environment and get into the groove of this tropical paradise. Unfortunately I never really accomplished this goal, although being able to take a dip in the Gulf of Mexico helped alleviate some of the discomfort. Another added bonus to this trip was meeting John and Brenda, a very sweet older couple from Alabama. As they were sitting outside the bathroom waiting for their laundry to dry they struck up a conversation with me, and they are some of the nicest people I have had the pleasure of randomly meeting.
John and Brenda travel in one of the biggest RVs I have ever seen, but they are very down to earth and low-key, and drive a little red Smart Car around when they take day trips. They have three cocker spaniels that live the life of luxury in the RV; poor Zephyr was a little envious as he was just about dead on his feet from the humidity. John showed us a photo album with pictures of his house, family, and toys including two refurbished fire trucks. If Andrew and I ever spend some time in Alabama we are going to look them up and take a spin in one of those trucks. John and Brenda, you have been forewarned!
Our last day in the Keys was spent ambling around Key West, doing the tourist circuit. It was the start of Fantasy Fest, and though we didn’t see anything scandalous there was a street fair with good food and cheap drinks. We enjoyed all the people watching and sight seeing, and then went to the aquarium for a tour since dogs are allowed in the open-air building.
At the end of the day we attempted to check out the daily sunset party that occurs, complete with vendors and buskers and tourists galore. After nearly pulling me through the crowd on my butt in an attempt to escape, it became clear that Zephyr had taken all he could handle with the heat and noise. We left before the sun had set and walked back to the truck, stopping only to take the obligatory photo at the “Southernmost Point” marker. That night I discovered that a combination of alcohol and Benadryl was enough to quell my itching and knock me out, and the next day we hit the road after grabbing some delicious Cuban food on our way out of the Keys.