To see the keys on the map, as we head south on the 1, it looks so strange. This long narrow hook, which seems too small to be inhabited. To see it while driving, it’s water on both sides until you whiz (yes, Thor can whiz) through a key, maybe the width of a quarter mile. These tiny islands packed with fisherman, boats, big bars, and every beach toy imaginable.
I find myself announcing each key we drive through, amusing myself by reliving that silly rhyme, “I am a gold lock”…. “I am gold key.” This is only reinforced when we drive through Duck Key. “What if they named it Ducky Key?” For the record, there was not a Tur Key, but there was a Vaca Key.
The Key we were heading for was Bahia Honda. Rumored to be one of the most natural, humble keys along the line, and some of the most desirable camping. I have had this destination on my radar for 4 years. And, here we are!
A combination of isolation, tropics and beaches make this destination feel like another country. The wildlife and nature added to the other-country feel. Perhaps Belize?
For a few days I pondered the sign that warned not to pet, chase or give water to the manatees. I could not understand the “give water to the manatees” – like, how are you going to do that? Well, by day four I figured it out. I watched a little boy rinse off his shoes with a spigot and he didn’t completely turn it off. Soon after:
Key West is at the end of the island-dotted-line. For most, this key is their final destination. Walking through town in the maze of bars and souvenir shops, we imagined what Key West might be like at Spring Break or Pirate Fest. No Thanks. We’re way past buckets o’ beer and “walking the plank” (Dar ye ask?). Rather, a simple toast to great American story-teller Ernest Hemingway.
For us, it was our only chance to get Thor to the “iconical” southernmost point in the states. We did enjoy a beer at this itty-bitty beach bar and a couple ahi tacos at this hurricane proof fish shack while people watching. And people watching roosters. Picturing this tiny island overtaken by college students and pirates. Argh!!
Finished our walk through the cute “old town” with a stop at the Hemingway house and his favorite watering hole.
Headed back north on HWY 1, back to camp at Bahia Honda. Yes, this was a key stop on this road trip, but what was most inspiring was the drive along this 120-mile causeway. A drive that rivals some of our favorite stretches of roads in all of America. Reminding us again, It’s not about the destination; it’s all about the journey. And with Thor, this was a milestone.