The airboats are awesome and thrilling to ride in(we went really fast sometimes down small corridors through the mangroves). But we are in the Everglades and there is much to see. “Caviar”, our airboat captain originally from Argentina and with a really cute accent, did a great tour for us. Check pictures for some of our sightings! Oh by the way, we did see a manatee (FINALLY) but it was swift & I got no pictures! They are shy! We went to the Everglades Museum and the Everglades National Park. But the Rod & Gun Club has so much history, I had to buy the T-shirt! They have had many famous guest including Five presidents: Roosevelt, Truman, Eisenhower, Hoover and Tricky Dick! John Wayne, Mick Jagger, Sean Connery, Jack Nicklaus, and the list goes on and on! Many movies filmed from here. This is the place to be if you love the Florida “out back”. And apparently we do. It was beautiful, historic, exciting, and fun. Don’t take much to entertain us!!!!!!!!!!!!Tomorrow we will wait for a rising tide to leave and go to Little Shark River anchorage (about 40 miles) and spend the night. After that a 40 mile drop down to Marathon in the Keys. Kevin and Debra called yesterday and are going to fly into Miami next weekend and drive to wherever we are in the Keys! Yeah, we are excited to have them as our guest.
Low tide and wind out of the north blew all the water out of our pass (When we get to the East coast they will be called inlets instead of passes—go figure???). A 70’ boat that came in last night was touching the ground this morning. The water was so skinny we patiently waited until after Noon to leave for Little Shark River. My dad is a master of understatement. When he was teaching us to fly he would say “It’s bad luck to bump the ground.” The same holds true in boating. We waited and then pushed a little harder than usual (and sucked a little more fuel per hour than usual) to make it to our anchorage before dark. Other boats already there included some Canadian Loopers. “Pot o’Gold” dinghied over for cocktails and hors’dourves with us. We are in the middle of the Everglades and the mosquitoes here are gargantuan. Lucky we brought our shotgun to keep them at bay! It has been reported that these mosquitoes have been seen bringing home cows for dinner! We will cross Florida Bay tomorrow and then we have a choice to make. We can pick up the ICW on the Gulf side of the Keys or go through Moser Channel at 7 Mile Bridge and run in Hawks Channel on the outside. The coral reefs do a very good job of protecting Hawks Channel from rough water and it is much deeper than the ICW. We choose Hawks hoping that our “good luck” will continue and we will not “bump the ground”.
Looking back on Florida’s West Coast I have to say we loved every minute of it. If you don’t get a chance to do that route by boat, you could do it by car by following Hwy 98 out of the panhandle and catching the Tamiami Trail (stands for Tampa-Miami cause it joins the 2). Many great towns & cities with lots of interesting history and wonderful food and sights.
We are at Burdine’s Marina in Marathon. Gold AGLCA Burgees fly on the boats in the slips on both sides of us! Veteran Loopers who have “crossed their wake” and are now wintering in the Keys. Cocktails at our dock “tiki hut” last evening with both, “Tanuki” from Michigan and “Honga” from Georgia. It’s nice to be part of the AGLCA network!
Marathon is located on Vaca Key. Its 50 miles from Key Largo and 50 miles from Key West. The Keys were connected by Henry Flagler who built a railroad in 1909 using 42 bridges to connect the islands. The south end of Marathon is connected to Bahia Honda by the longest bridge, Seven Mile Bridge. The original RR Bridge was replaced by a more modern bridge but a portion of the original (that had been modified for cars) still stands and is a nice pedestrian bridge. Today we walked 2 miles out on that bridge and saw nurse sharks, turtles, barracuda, spotted rays, dolphins and lots of fish. Had late lunch at the “7 Mile Grill” where in the 70’s we had it on good authority that it served Jimmy his “Cheeseburger in Paradise”.
At the end of Hwy US 1 (called the Overseas Highway because of all the bridges) you will find the “pearl” of the Keys, Key West! From the 1800’s it was inhabited by pirates and wreckers some who purposely drew ships onto the reefs so they could “scavenge the booty”! If they are still here, they are dressed in t-shirts & flip flops like the rest of us and one doesn’t notice them so much! Key West has also been a Navy Base, the cigar capital of the US and favored by distinguished figures from Hemingway to President Truman (not to mention Alabama’s own troubadour, Jimmy Buffett)! Year round mild climate with perfect weather in the winter and island breezes in the summer! This is the southern most point in the continental United States! Thanks to Henry Flagler’s RR for getting us here, it is now a major tourist destination and they all gather in Mallory Square at "sunset" every afternoon to watch the spectacle (both on shore and off)!