Friday, May 27, 2016

Key West - Day 2

Day 2 of our Key West adventure started bright and early with a morning snorkeling trip that we booked at Robbie's.  Robbie's is a destination in and of itself - it offers snorkeling trips, kayak and boat rental, has a full service restaurant and an assortment of shops and craft booths to browse.



We lucked out and there were only 4 people total booked for the snorkeling tour - woo hoo!   We got some great individual attention as well as an informative lesson on snorkeling techniques.  The Captain and First Mate were wonderfully friendly and cheerful.


We went to 2 different locations for snorkeling on the reefs and it was amazing.  I can't begin to tell you the wide variety of shapes, sizes, and colors of the fish we saw.  We saw parrot fish, barracuda, grouper,  a nurse shark and my favorite - a lot of sea turtles.


The water was warm and very calm.  We couldn't have asked for a nicer morning.


Afterwards we walked around the docks and watched the pelicans, as well as people feeding the tarpon.

We spied 2 manatees....


The tarpon would jump out of the water to grab the food that people held in the air.  It was quite fun.  Then we walked over to their restaurant and had a quick lunch - I had a turkey club and Chablis had a Cuban sandwich.  Both were good, but just your basic sandwiches, nothing special.




 We still had quite a ways to drive so we headed out, stopping on Marathon to do a quick geocache - Come Grow with Us.

Can you see the cache?


Nicely hidden and it was a good chance to stop and stretch our legs for 5 minutes.


Since we had a little time to kill before reaching our hotel on Key West, we decided to stop and check out Bahia Honda State Park on Big Pine Key.


We enjoyed driving from island to island and we really liked it when we were on a bridge with water on both sides.  I expected it to be more like one long bridge the entire way, but you spend so much time on the individual islands that you don't really feel like you're out in the middle of the ocean.





Part of Bahia Honda Park was where a section of Henry Flagler's railroad to Key West was located.  This was an important railroad in it's day and a big part of Key West history.


To read more about Henry Flagler and his contributions to Florida and Key West, visit here.



Since we were there I wanted to do a geocache Henry Flagler's View 2.  It was a lovely walk down this trail....



Check out the view - love all the colors.  We walked down to the beach and took a swim.  The water was perfect and super clear.


Afterwards we went up to the concession stand and got some ice cream cones before hitting the car and driving the rest of the way to Key West.  We checked into our  hotel - The Best Western Hibiscus and got ready for dinner.  We were excited to walk down Duval street and check out the sights.




There were people everywhere and so much to look at...


Cold air blasts from open doorways, salespeople hand out free samples of their wares trying to entice you into their shops, rock and country music pounds out of the open bars, and delicious smells waft from every restaurant.  There just isn't enough time to look at everything.



There are wild rooster's everywhere!  They walk and strut all over town, where ever they please.  You always heard them cock-a-doodle-doing in the background.



World famous "Sloppy Joe's Bar...."




Chablis spotted a place to get her hair braided, so she got a gypsy braid.



I liked it! It's kind of hard to see, but a gypsy braid is when they take a lock of hair and then braid and wrap it with 6 different strands of string.  Hers has a lot of pink in it, so it sort of blends in with her shirt.  Look closely and you can see it.


We walked all the way to the wharf and decided on Hog's Breath Saloon for dinner.


All I can say is "EXCELLENT" choice!  You know how it is when you walk into a place and you immediately like it?  Well, that's how it was here.  Live music, great crowd, good decor and fantastic food.


I have always wanted to try a Shrimp Po-Boy and I heard they were good here - Can I just say "My new favorite sandwich??" 



And of course I had to grab a cache while we were there - Cache Your Breath Here.  It was a web cam cache, which means you have to stand in front of their webcam and have somebody you know go online and snap your photo for you while you're there.  I called my mom and dad and had them do it for me.


Let's just say I'd drive all the way back to Key West to spend another evening at Hog's Breath Saloon.  I liked it there that much and it was easily my favorite place on our whole trip.  They get 2 thumbs up!

Ok, everyone have a safe and fun Memorial Day.  I'll be back on Tuesday with more trip report.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Key West - Day 1

Chablis and I just got back from our Bucket List trip to Key West.  We've been wanting to go there for ages and this year we gave up our annual trip to Sanibel Island in order to make this trip.  We crammed so much stuff into 6 days that I am going to have to break my report up into multiple posts.  Plus, I still haven't finished weeding thru the almost 1000 photos I took.  Yep, you read that right - 1000 photos!  So let's get started with Day 1....

We flew into Ft. Lauderdale airport, rented a car and headed for the Keys.  It was an easy drive down the Florida Turnpike and a little over an hour later we drove onto Card Sound Road so we could have lunch at the famous Alabama Jacks on Key Largo.



The place was packed!  It opens at 2:00 pm on Sundays and we got there at 2:15 and there were only a few open tables left.

A band was playing some great music and everyone was rocking...


And we scored a great table right on the river....



Check out all the dollar bills pinned everywhere...


We had a long wait - almost an hour, before our food arrived.  I got the fried conch because I wanted to try it.  It was just ok.  Now I can say I've had it but I doubt I'd ever order it again.


Chablis got a fried grouper sandwich that was very good...


After lunch we grabbed a geocache in the parking lot - Card Sound Cache.  It was an easy find and grab, even with all the people milling about.  The line of traffic coming off of Key Largo was unbelievable and we were glad we were headed onto the island instead of off it...


We drove thru Key Largo and continued on to Islamorada, where we were spending the first night at the Chesapeake Beach Resort.


We quickly changed into our swim suits and headed down to their beach and pool for a nice swim...


We saw this iguana hanging around on the rocks...


I got a big kick out of this sign saying that the maximum temperature for the pool would be 104 degrees.  That's my kind of pool water!


We relaxed and floated around in the pool for awhile and then cleaned up for dinner.  We stopped on our way to the restaurant to do another geocache - Leg Stretcher VIII...



It's always fun to find quirky little out of the way geocaches...


And then headed to the Islamorada Fish Company for the sunset and a gulf side dinner....





The view from our table was gorgeous - it was all outside, under a covered roof, and with a light breeze, it couldn't have been more perfect.



I forgot to take a picture of our meal, but I got grilled snapper and Chablis got stuffed shrimp.  Both were excellent!  Chablis kicked off her flip flops and relaxed....


This was a perfect view to end our first evening...


Next up is our first snorkeling trip, a visit to Bahia Honda State Park and our arrival on Key West.

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