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Old 03-12-2012, 08:09 PM   #16
DalmatianDad
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Home at last......
That little Florida journey amounted to 3453 miles, and according to the vehicle timer, 72 hours and 10 minutes in the driver's seat. Yes "it" is a bit sore.
When I get the pictures sorted out I'll try to post a few...Right now, it's tax time.
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Old 03-13-2012, 03:44 AM   #17
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Glad you made it home! Looking forward to the pictures!

I like the Keys a lot! It's been years since we drove down. The last two times we've been we were on a cruise. Key West is such a "unique" place ..
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Old 03-13-2012, 07:11 AM   #18
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Home at last......
That little Florida journey amounted to 3453 miles, and according to the vehicle timer, 72 hours and 10 minutes in the driver's seat. Yes "it" is a bit sore.
When I get the pictures sorted out I'll try to post a few...Right now, it's tax time.
Ick! We came home from our trip and did taxes, too. It's a rude awakening... brings you back to reality, quickly. I'm glad you had a great time. Can't wait for pics!
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Old 03-13-2012, 08:35 AM   #19
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Key West is beautiful, but a hard place to live for all the service industry workers. My son lived there for about 9 months working as a bartender at a place on Duval Street. Housing is so expensive there... he had to pay $1,000 a month to live in a roach-infested motel room. After nine months he decided "paradise" really wasn't, and returned to Minnesota.



P.S. As you may have noticed, some of the beaches down there are "clothing optional". My son decided to take the option. Fell asleep in the sun and woke up several hours later. Any idea what happens when a part of you that is normally NEVER exposed to sunlight spends several hours baking in the intense Key West sun? He was one hurting dude for awhile!!

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Old 03-14-2012, 04:45 PM   #20
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First stop was "The Villages," Florida.
This is a 55 or better community of about 80,000. It is billed as the largest such place in the USA. It is about 60 miles north of Orlando.
As big as the place is, you can drive anywhere in your golf cart on either a dedicated path or special lane on the street People go everywhere that way. The number of things to do is mind boggling.



More Later
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Old 03-15-2012, 07:36 AM   #21
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Naples and The Everglades



Naples is a real enclave of wealth. Many beautiful homes and condos.
We went to a beach in a state park which was very nice except for the shell laden sand. I admit I have sissy feet, but I could barely walk on many parts of it, but if you were hunting shells it was perfect.

The above picture was of a resort entry. Just one of many great settings. There were some timeshares to die for. I wouldn't own a timeshare, but I wouldn't mind a few nights in one of them.

Moving on to the western Everglades our first mission was to take an airboat ride. We really picked a winner thanks to the fact that the pilot was only slightly sane, but a great guy anyway.
As we pulled away from the dock he says, " we'll get to the eco stuff in a bit, but the first 20 minutes we are going airboating, YEHAWW!" Wild ride through the grass and a couple of times on land (opps). My only thought was coming around a blind curve and hitting some unknown object,
So on to the birds and gaters of which there were many.



Here our pilot is about to give us a surprise. He reached down and grabbed the gater and spread his jaws. DW forgot the picture in the excitement.



In one swamp section they had built some floating platforms (as above) and the gaters took to them like bees to honey.



Pretty much everywhere you looked there were lots of birds.

On our way back to port our pilot suddenly cut the engine and drifted to a halt.
He says, "you know, no airboat ride is truly complete without doing some high velocity 360's, but I would never do them unless you consented."
Hmmmm, OK I guess..
Wow, words cannot describe..and no seatbelts Ms Hamilton.

The next portion of the trip was through the everglades to the starting point for the 110 mile trip to Key West.
This drive was really quite cool because on the enourmous number of gators we saw in the ditches (water on both sides of the road) Driving at 60 MPH we could spot them about every 50 yards in some areas. A few gator roadkill being consumed by the vultures. A few tourists parking and getting up close and personal.
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Old 03-17-2012, 10:19 PM   #22
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The trip from the mainland to Key West covers about 110 miles.
Not nearly as scenic as I had expected. Much, perhaps most of the trip is such that no water is visible, but the 7 mile bridge and adjoining railroad bridge is cool. You can walk on portions of the railway bridge as well as fish from it. The water in this area is very shallow and quite clear.
The speed sign says 55, but we saw very little of that. Like Branson, you drive as fast as the slowest vehicle.

Roughly halfway to Key West we checked out Bahia Honda park which has lots of water activities and perhaps the best beach in the Keys. We had planned to come back for a day, but the weather turned against us.
Rolling into Key West I was shocked to see how city like it was, at least in the new part. Shopping centers, lots of chain restaurants, and plenty of traffic.
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Old 03-18-2012, 02:33 PM   #23
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I just swam with a manatee.

At Seaworld Orlando I gave a sting ray a back rub and fed her a tray of fish.



After that she swam over to the other side of the tank and smoked a cigarette.
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Old 03-18-2012, 02:48 PM   #24
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At Seaworld Orlando I gave a sting ray a back rub and fed her a tray of fish.



After that she swam over to the other side of the tank and smoked a cigarette.
I literally laughed out loud, on that one!
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Old 03-20-2012, 09:34 AM   #25
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After settling into our Key West bungalow we decided to do a driving tour of Old Town so we could get our bearings for the next day.
Wow !! What a drivers nightmare! Hundreds of bikes, scooters, golf carts, all crammed into some very narrow streets. It appeared every driver had a death wish..Much of the signage is not up to code (like none of the 4 way stops were marked as such) crazy confusing parking (you can lose $300 bucks in the blink of an eye)--so we decided we would do the 15 minute walk the next day.

Below is a tiny segment of Duval Street.

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Old 03-20-2012, 09:53 AM   #26
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As I noted in the last post, we decided to forget the car and walk the next day.

So off we go about 10AM.
The first excitement we experience is a trio of serious drunks coming our way (yes 10 AM).
As it happened we met at the site of a chicken family gathering. Colorful chickens and roosters are all over the town. These were right by the busy sidewalk just doing their thing.
One of the drunks is really out of it, and I deduced perhaps a little mentally unsound, and he started raging about chickens and how he was going to stomp on all of them. His pals were not as drunk, but of no help.
This is kind of one of those times (if you are a believer) that it seems you were placed in this position for a reason. So sparing the details, the 3 drunks went about their business as did the chicks.



About two days after this incident I purchased a Key West paper as I was curious what the local issues were in this crazy place.
There on the front page was the story of how 20 tourists had come upon a guy who was trying to strangle a chicken. He had pulled out lots of its feathers and had the bird within an inch of its life. The tourists had stopped him and kept him til the cops got there.
Don't know for sure, but the description sure fit our chicken hater from the other day..
Things got more normal after that...
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Old 03-20-2012, 10:26 AM   #27
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A few pictures of the local area..


Every tourist area seems to have a Ghost Tour



Hard Rock Cafe..Great for people watching, but not much else.(like food)

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Harry S. Truman White House. Neat tour and interesting history. The entire Truman annex is a super neat area.
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Always cruise ships in for the day. Picture taken from Ft Zachary Taylor.
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Cool paint on this German ship.


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Beach at the Fort. Huge picnic area behind it and great place to watch the sunset.
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Ships get up close and personal when they leave..Wow were those folks partying when they went by.
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Sunset from the beach
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The best food we had was actually on the next island over...The Hog Fish. Right at the docks and pretty much open air. We both had shrimp and it was great. Fun place too.
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And one last shot..
This is Turtle Beach in Sarasota..Very nice .
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Old 03-20-2012, 04:55 PM   #28
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DD, thanks so much for sharing your trip and your pictures with us. Key West is far more commercialized than I thought.
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Old 03-20-2012, 05:24 PM   #29
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DD, I very much enjoyed your trip report and the pictures are beautiful.....where are you going on your next trip??????
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