We left Jonathan Dickens State Park at about 9:00 am and headed south down the Florida Turnpike to Long Key State Park. We had purchased a mini Sunpass (a stick on transponder for the toll roads) at a local CVS the other day and had activated it online. We were advised to do this since we planned to take a lot of the toll roads south around Miami and using this device would save us 20 percent off of the tolls.
We got on the turnpike near West Palm Beach and drove on it till the last of it in Homestead Florida. Now here is where we did have some excitement on the road this day. We planned to fill up with diesel at the last service center on the toll road so we would be pretty full when we got to Bluewater Key. Well we pulled off the exit only to be advised that trucks and rv’s needed to stay right for diesel. So we did and found ourselves going right back on the turnpike… so no diesel here!!!
So a little further down the road we exited the turnpike right before Highway 1 where we planned to stop at the southernmost Walmart in Florida since everything in the keys is quite a bit more expensive. We stopped for one last haul of groceries and beverages. Getting in and out of the Walmart parking lot was not too bad (by the way they had signs everywhere that RV’s are not allowed to overnight there). From here we looked for a diesel stop when we saw a RaceTrac right before getting on the Overseas Highway to Key Largo.
Here is where the fun began… I knew it would be a tight fit but was sure we could do it. So in we went and we planned to take the easy number 1 pump but by the time we had lined up it was apparent that we would block all the other 14 pumps of cars from being able to exit if we filled up here. So we turned and went down to pump 16 (the last one) so we wouldn’t be blocking the traffic flow. Boy was this one tight and by the time I got us near the pump it became apparent we were going to have to unhitch the toad so I could make a backup maneuver to put us near the short hosed pump designed only for trucks not RV’s. After a few choice words and $150 dollars of fuel we left the station…
We stayed unhitched and both drove out of the gas station to find a better spot to re-attach the toad and then it was back down highway 1. An exciting experience I was sure we would have to do one day… check it off the list! The drive down highway one is slow even during this “off season” as we hit several red lights and several slowly moving vehicles. The road has quite a few quite a few stretches of one lane traffic each way and construction areas along the way.
Along the way we passed beside the eastern boundary of the Everglades National Park to our right and Barnes Sound to our left. The color of the water here in the upper keys was every shade of blue imaginable and reminded us both of our stops in the Caribbean. We slowly made our way through Key Largo as I could hear in my head several Jimmy Buffet songs. Then we passed John Pennekamp State Park (where I hoped to stay the night but it was always booked up). Next was Islamorada before we finally hit our destination for the night in the middle keys at Long Key State Park.
Our site (number 24) is right on the waterfront where we can see miles and miles of blue water. We set up and went out for a snorkel during low tide. The area in front of us is an expansive shallow area with a mixture of sponges and grass beds. Not particularly great for snorkeling but I did see my first lobster in the wild (a 2 pounder to boot) and we saw a nice sized puffer fish.
So here we are in the Keys!!! I am writing this blog as I sit listening to the morning surf with the azure waves steadily crashing onto the narrow strip of white sandy beach. As I enjoy my morning coffee I am reminded how fortunate we are to be here… life is grand!