December 13, 2019 - January 13, 2020: Marathon, Florida (Florida Keys)
From Punta Gorda, Florida we drove down to the Florida Keys and spent a month on Grassy Key which is about 8 miles North of Marathon, Florida.
We drove on State Highway 41 on the way down and passed through the Fakahatchess Strand State Preserve, Big Cypress National Preserve, Everglades and Frances S. Taylor Wildlife Preserve, and along Everglades National Park. Very cool and pretty area with interesting signs...Panthers....
Instead of bringing the trailer down to The Keys, we left it in Punta Gorda at Muthu's place. It was actually less expensive for us to rent an efficiency apartment at Jolly Roger RV Park than to bring the trailer - go figure! So we spent the next month living in a 264 sq foot one bedroom efficiency apartment on Grassy Key.
The green building below are the apartments which are right by the swimming pool and our red truck is parked across the way near the campers.
We really enjoyed staying at Jolly Roger for many reasons. We spent plenty of time in the 84-86f (PERFECT!) swimming pool or down at the private marina and dock area watching the pelicans. As you can see the pelicans were very friendly and hung around because of the fish cleaning station nearby.
Depending on what our activity for the day was, we would head down to the Tiki Pavilion by the dock and work on our computers (aka...our office).
A nightly ritual for the campground was to watch the sunset at the marina. We choose to either watch it at the marina or swim some laps in the pool and watch it. Both were spectacular! We would often take down an appetizer to munch on and after the sunset head back to the apartment and cook dinner. Below some of the best sunsets pics.
Below are some random silly pictures. Since I've been on a lobster quest during our travels, it was only fitting that I have the shirt below : )
And right outside of our place, there was a resident Iguana. He lived between three palm trees, so we would see him climb down, across the grass and up the other tree. Pretty cool.
This is what happens when you are boiling eggs and you get bored...I named them. It was then fun when I ate them to use the word/name in sentences. Something like "I think I will eat Bill today", "Maybe I will eat Bob and Bill today", "I have been a bad girl", etc.
One of the things we loved most about staying at Jolly Roger was that we could ride our bicycles on the Florida Keys Overseas Heritage Trail = bicycle path. This was about a 9 mile bicycle ride from Jolly Roger into the beginning of Marathon. We would ride to the end of Marathon, through neighborhoods, to Key Colony Beach, Coco Plum Beach, etc. Often visiting the grocery store, restaurants, coffee shops, etc. Any excuse to ride the bicycles.
We discovered some awesome food Happy Hour specials! Sparky's had 30 cents shrimp or wings and we ate there a few times. The first time I had 20 shrimp for $6.00 and another time 10 shrimp for $3.00. What a great deal! They also had great pizza!
Another favorite was Castaway. Great sushi and manatees that would come right up to the restaurant dock beside your table and drink the fresh water that came from the air conditioning units ; )
On Christmas Eve we attended a Fish Fry at Jolly Roger. The seasonal camping guys spent days fishing and hauled in a TON of fish. Everyone brought a potluck dish and then all you could eat fish. It was awesome! There was a lot left over so I took a big plate of it back to our apartment and had it for dinner the next day. It was fun to meet our fellow campers and hear their stories.
On Christmas Day we rode our bicycles to Coco Plum Beach. We chilled, watched kiteboarders, and ate some Cutie oranges that we took along as a snack. I did a little beach combing and arranging of shells.
That evening we swam in the pool, watched the sunset, ate dinner and watched a movie in the apartment. An uneventful day, but very fun!
During our stay we golfed two separate times at Key Colony Beach. It was a 9 hole, par 3 walking course. It was a fun, inexpensive, and close course. There were a TON of iguanas on most of the holes, so if your ball got near the trees, you carefully used a golf club to retrieve the ball and moved it so you could hit and not disturb the iguanas. The tree below has an awesome branch structure and I love it!
One of the days, we paddleboarded at Curry Hammock State Park which was just down the road from us.
We had a great time. We paddled through some mangroves which was a little spooky. It was pretty dense and there were a TON of little crabs on the roots of the trees. The water was pretty shallow and you could not see to the bottom. I kept expecting to see alligators or sharks ; ) Ha...
The one thing we did not think about was...the current or wind. We started paddling in a direction and once we came out of the mangroves, we were against the current and into the wind. Doh....the good thing is it was very shallow, so after a while we decided to walk the boards vs. paddling.
We stopped along the way and enjoyed a snack of Cutie oranges. Of course, after we were all done and ready to leave a nice gentleman appeared on his quad and informed us it was private property. Oops, he was really cool about it.
On the shore there were TONS of little shells and live jellyfish that were pulsing. I was tempted to find a way to get them back in the water, but the tide was coming in, so...decided to let nature do it's business.
In the lagoon before the mangroves, there was a HUGE iguana. I swear it was probably 3-5 feet. It's tail was as long as my arm! It was hard to get some good pictures because the little stinker kept moving around.
As you can see we were able to get pretty close to it. In the picture with Craig, the iguana is in the upper right corner.
So...I am not going to name names or say much, however....one minute I am taking pictures and the next...I hear a loud splash...I think you can tell from the pics below what happened : ) "Someone" was so busy looking at the iguana they got off balance and...got wet ; ) The water was only waist deep, but it was a shock. And "someone" was able to recover their sunglasses, hat, and paddle! : )
Over one of the weekends, there was a three day Conch Music Video Festival in Marathon. We rode our bicycles and attended a little bit each day. Although it was lightly attended, there were a few good bands.
The cool part about this whole weekend was that our friends Teresa and Paul from Charlotte, North Carolina visited the Keys as a surprise birthday present for Paul. Once we all realized that we were only 20 miles from each other, we got together for dinner and the festival. Back in October when we visited Charlotte, NC, we enjoyed a great dinner at their house. THANK YOU TERESA AND PAUL FOR LETTING US CELEBRATE WITH YOU!!!
During our month in the Keys, we visited Key West four times.
The first time was to get the lay of the land, understand parking, and visit the Truman Little White House. As you can see from the pictures, it was a rainy day so we stopped at Glazed Donut for a cup of coffee, donut, and...a little light reading ; )
Craig also had his first date with Marilyn...
Wandering around the town are a ton of roosters or chickens. They were brought to Key West in 1860 by the Cubans because of their love for cock fighting. Since then the rooster/chicken population has exploded and they now refer to them as "Gypsy Chickens" and they are protected by law!
As you can see, we also had to stop by Mile Marker 0 where Highway 1 begins.
We toured the Truman Little White House which was pretty interesting. Harry S. Truman came to this house eleven times during his presidency for both vacation and working trips. Unfortunately, we were unable to take pictures on the inside, but the ones we did get were informative.
Our second visit to Key West was to ride bicycles. Of course, each time we have come here we visit Mallory Square to watch the buskers and have either lunch or dinner. We had a great time wandering around the city on our bicycles and people watching. As you can see bicycles, golf carts, scooters, etc. are very popular.
Our third visit to Key West was for New Year's Eve. Holy cow....what a fun and crazy time!
We got into town around 4:00pm and planned to snack, eat dinner, people watch, and watch the Conch Drop at Sloppy Joe's on Duval Street.
The busker below with the Golden Retriever had the perfect gig. He played a guitar and sang silly little songs while the golden circled the crowd, took money from people and dropped it in the bucket! People would give the golden any bill just to watch him do it. It was awesome!
During the evening we chatted with some folks and they told us about the Red Slipper Drop just 8 blocks down on Duval Street in the LGBT District. Since the Conch Drop was looking lame, we headed to the Red Slipper Drop.
Wow...what fun. The streets were packed, people were dressed up, and there was a runway drag queen show. Some of the performers had amazing voices and were really good. A cool thing was that CNN was onsite interviewing and broadcasting the evening/show in conjunction with the Times Square celebration.
At midnight the Red Slipper would drop from Bourbon Street with Sushi (Drag Queen) in it.
Craig topped off (get it?) the evening by getting pixie dusted (sprinkled with glitter) by a girl with a glitter painted on top. We have a few more photos, but they are probably too risky to publish ; )
Our fourth visit to Key West was with our buddy Todd from Cincinnati! Todd was in Miami for business, so we convinced him he needed to come visit us for the weekend in The Keys!
On the day we visited Key West, we hung out at the Rest Beach, visited the Southern Most Point of the US, wandered around town, and people watched. We had a great time!
As usual the line to have your picture taken at the Southern Most Point in the US was pretty long, however...great people watching!
We found another big chair for a photo op. I loved this plastic bench on one of the beaches. Then us watching the sunset at Mallory Square...along with 1,00's of others ; ) And enjoying a giant chocolate chip cookie from Mattheessen's
This was Craig's second date with Marilyn, so he got a little more friendly...Craig said she was wearing dainty panties, so...Todd had to check them out ; )
On the other days of Todd's stay, enjoyed watching kiteboarders at Coco Plum Beach (notice the blue jellyfish), , lunch at Castaway's where the manatees come to drink out of the fresh water, and then dinner at Key Fisheries. It was really cool at Key Fisheries because they were feeding the tarpon and two nurse sharks the pieces from cleaning the fish, pretty neat! Awesome shrimp, fish, and lobster at all of the places!
We had a great time hanging out with Todd. THANK YOU TODD FOR COMING TO VISIT US !!!
Craig and I had been to Key Fisheries earlier in our stay for my birthday dinner. That time I had a Lobster Rueben....OMG....it was awesome!
Below are a few misc pictures from around the area. Yes, the water really is that blue when the sun hits it. And the picture of the houses, water, and boats - that is typical living and these spits of land along the water. What a great backyard! The picture with the RV's is Sunshine Key. Sunshine Key contains one RV park and they are packed like sardines!
You know you are in the Florida Keys when you see stuff like this along the roadsides...
We ate at Marathon Grill and Ale House a few times because they were open the latest and had a lot of large TV's for watching football. Below we are watching the Fiesta Bowl with Clemons Tigers vs. Ohio State.
My favorite mailbox we saw in the Keys and me being eaten by a shark - OOOHHH...
On our way out of the Keys, we stopped at Robbie's in Islamorada to feed the tarpon. Oh man, what a kick!
You could buy a bucket of fish and then you held the fish over the water and the tarpon would come up and snatch the fish. In addition to the tarpon, there were a lot of Jack jumping up to eat the fish and...pelicans. Holy cow. The pelicans would very brazen and would come up right beside you and snatch the fish out of your hand or bucket. Normally, there are not a many pelicans but since it was mating season they were in abundance.
It was cute, the gals beside us were screaming and laughing up a storm because of the shock factor. Craig kept telling me how to do it because it looks easy. However, when he tried it, it was intimidating and not so easy ; ) We had so much fun, we went and got another bucket of fish ; )
It was exciting and fun and a must activity if you are in the area!
We had a really great time in the Florida Keys. The whole area is very relaxed and laid back and there is so much to do. Some day we will come back again and spend about three months exploring and playing more. There is snorkeling, scuba diving, fishing, and so much more to do!