Remember those yellow balls that people put on their car radio antennas (when cars had antennas) so they could find their cars in the parking lot? Because cars no longer have antennas we have a new, improved approach—put two kayaks on top of your car, preferably different colors. We have had two kayaks, one green and one orange, on top of our car since last June and we have had no problem finding it anywhere. This approach has the added benefit that you are always ready to kayak at a moment’s notice when you pass an attractive body of water.
Having kayaks on top of your car is also a good conversation starter—we receive a lot of compliments. For the record, our kayaks are manufactured by Hurricane in North Carolina. We like them because they are lightweight, fast, and they do look very nice. [Editor’s Note: If any Hurricane representatives read this, we would be glad to promote their kayaks in our blogs for a nominal fee.]
This week we stayed at Bahia Honda State Park in the Florida Keys, about 37 miles from Key West. In our first twenty years of living in Florida, we visited the Keys once, and only Key West. In the last five years we have stayed at one of the four state parks in the Keys every year and have enjoyed each visit. The Keys have their negatives—the traffic, noise, and tourist traps of Route 1 can be difficult to avoid—but the unbelievable beauty of the waters surrounding the Keys make it all worthwhile.
Needless to say, our visit to the Keys included a lot of kayaking but we also biked and relaxed on the beach. Here are some photos of our week.
The Florida Keys—water, sky, and a little bit of land. There are over 100 keys which are the remnants of coral reefs that were exposed as the seas receded.
We have met our friends from New York State, Dave and Donna, in the Keys for the last several years. Here are Dave and Ed in the clear waters off of Bahia Honda. It’s a good sign when you can see the shadow of your kayak on the bottom.
Dave in front of the Old Bahia Honda Bridge—the bridge was built for the Overseas Railway to Key West that was completed in 1912 and was abandoned in 1935 after a hurricane destroyed much of the railway. This bridge and others were later used for the original Route 1 to Key West.
Approaching the beaches of Bahia Honda—really nice beaches are rare in the Keys but Bahia Honda has beautiful white sand beaches.
A break from kayaking–biking on Bahia honda
Dave and Patty leaving Cudjoe Key and heading towards Tarpon Belly Keys
Patty approaching Tarpon Belly Keys
We are greeted by campers on Tarpon Belly Keys. The guy on the old bridge works in Alaska during the summer and is spending this winter in the Keys. Apparently there was a shrimp farm on these keys at one time.
Patty stretches and contemplates the next leg of our trip.
Approaching Raccoon Key—this key was used to raise rhesus monkeys for research after India banned exporting them to the U.S. We heard there were still monkeys on the key but we did not see any.
Lunch break—there are a lot of shallow areas with sandy bottoms in the keys that make it easy to stop for a break.
Another break—Patty wants one every hour.
Heading back to Cudjoe Key
View of Bahia Honda State Park
Ocean-front camp sites at Bahia Honda—it is difficult to get camping reservations for the winter months in many Florida state parks but this is probably the most difficult. You can make on-line reservations 11 months in advance at 8:00 am. If you try to make a reservation at 8:00 plus one second you have almost no chance of getting a camp site. We and our friends have never gotten one of these ocean-front sites—we typically end up close to the trash dumpsters.
Heading out to the Old Bahia Honda Bridge
In terms of aquatic wildlife photos, this is all we got—on the left, Patty points at rays and on the right she points at a sea turtle. We also saw several sharks but it’s hard to get good photos of aquatic animals.
We kayaked along Big Pine Key which includes part of the National Key Dear Refuge. An endangered animal, the current population is estimated at 600 to 750.
Taking (another) break on Bahia Honda
It’s not all paradise here in the Keys—on the left, the owners of this sailboat obviously did not enjoy their visit. On the right, for some reason, no-see-ums (also known as sandflies or midges) were plentiful this year. One of us (pictured here) is sensitive to bug bites—you can’t see ‘em but you can definitely feel ‘em.
Several views of sunset from Bahia Honda—note the object in the center of the bottom right photo. The first person who identifies the object and its purpose will receive the honor of being acknowledged in our next blog.