The Florida Keys and The Everglades, Dec. 22nd to Jan. 2nd

…Miami Everglades

This part of our adventure started off at the Miami Everglades RV Resort located 30 miles south west of Miami, 20 miles north of Key

…Santa-gator

Largo and 10 miles east of the Everglades National Park.  From the moment we pulled into our site we were part of the neighborhood as our neighbor’s were holding

…neighbourhood get together!

happy hour and invited us over.  This became a ritual for our stay here.  The campground was nice, quiet and relaxed but not in the greatest area for cycling.  However, we

…a watchful eye!

did manage to find a few roads that were quiet and took us through the huge farms of ornamental plants.  We did manage to get in a daily cycle and weight/gym workout.

…the entrance to the Keys

On the morning of the 25th we went for a motorcycle ride down to Key Largo.  This was a very nice ride but unfortunately with it being a holiday nothing was open so it just turned out to be a nice ride into the east side of the Keys. We actually had to

…Santa!

get back to the RV because we had a Xmas potluck to go to at the campground. 60 of our newest friends and we were the youngest by at least 12 years! Lots of good food and this was the first time we tried Key Lime Pie, wow is it good!

 

…Marathon, the middle of the Keys
…the view out our window

It was a quick stay at Miami Everglades and then it was time to head further south into the Keys and our next stay was at Grassy Keys RV Resort which was in Marathon, in the

…sunset in palms

middle of the Florida Keys.  Here we parked Juergen with the front facing the Gulf of Mexico and watched the sun set over the island.  The next

…Key West Rum

day we hopped on our motorcycles and drove the 90 km down US #1 to mile marker 0 in Key West.  Here we visited their first

…another Hemmingway hangout!

legal Rum Distillery before stopping at Sloppy Joes for lunch.  Sloppy

…the Old Man…

Joes was one of Ernest Hemmingway’s favourite places a few blocks from his house.  We then made our way down Duval Street to the bottom of the island and the marker

…the beginning or the end!

for the most southern point of mainland

…the most southern point, tree and June!

USA.   Since it was Xmas it was also the home of the southern most Xmas tree on the mainland USA!

 

…morning coffee spot
…a very cool cycle!
…refreshment stop
…old and new
…jelly fish in the Keys
…sunset from the kayak

Since our coffee maker broke Xmas morning we headed out early on the bikes for coffee and then a beautiful cycle through Marathon and across the 7 Mile Bridge.  Other then a couple flat tires due to the wicked thorns in the Keys we had a great 74km ride with a stop on the way back  for some fresh fish and margaritas.  Our final full day in Marathon we spent most of the morning and  late afternoon on the water kayaking around the shore where we saw jelly fish, dolphins and the setting sun.  The stay in the Keys was too short, maybe we will have to go back!

…Chokoloskee sunsets
…gator in the grass
…first manatee sighting

For New Years Eve we had a three night stay on Chokoloskee Island.  This is a 150 acre island in Everglade National Park.  We finally saw alligators in the wild as we were driving on US #41 through the park.  We quickly discovered that there is not a lot to do on the Island or in Everglade City on the mainland.  The park we were staying at was very nice but we were glad we only had a couple of days here.  We set out on our bicycles to explore.  As we cycled into the park along the #41 we got to see alligators again, this time we could stop and actually see them close up and personal.  A very nice surprise was, as we were talking to some other tourists we got to see three manatees lounging in the canal close to us.  It was a nice way to close out 2016.  In the evening we had a nice dinner at a small restaurant where we sat outside amongst the ferns and palm trees

…dressed up and out for NYE
…the final sunset of 2016

with lights strung throughout them.  We then went back and opened up a bottle of sparkling, watched a movie and  went up on to the roof of our RV to watch fireworks at midnight.  To our surprise there were none!  There was a nice display at 10:30 but not at midnight.  Either way, 2017 came in and so we went to bed.

 

…Osprey nest in the Mangroves
…pelican party
…sea shells by the sea shore

New Years Day 2017.  We spent the afternoon taking an “eco” tour of the 10,000 Island and Everglades.  We saw Osprey in their nest before heading into more open water where we

…dolphins in the Gulf
…baby Mangrove

were followed by some dolphins.  Our destination was  a shell beach for a walk and a lesson about shells.  We learned that some are carnivores and some are herbivores, depending on which side the opening is on.  We saw egg tubes, worm rocks and baby mangroves just to name a few.  Then back

…first sunset of 2017

to the boat for more dolphins and a pair of bald eagles in their nest.  A quick stop in a lagoon to kayak before watching the setting sun on the Gulf of Mexico, then  back to shore as the light started to fade.

 

…airboat thrill ride!

The next morning it was time to leave the island, so we packed up and headed back over the causeway to Everglade City where we stopped for one last thrill in the Everglades.  Their famous “air boat” ride through the Mangrove Tree Tunnels.  It was more of an amusement park type of ride, fun and fast but way to noisy to actually see any animals.  It was a fun way to say good bye to the Everglades and head towards our next stay at Naples/Marco Island.

 

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