Thursday, June 19, 2008

From Tobaccoville to Key West - Part III
Saturday morning (being a real day off for Katie), I took a walk in search of a cup of coffee, while she slept in. I was successful (of course!!) and didn't have to walk very far. I walked back to the hotel and sat outside and read, enjoying my coffee and the view.

When Katie got up, we looked through our information pamphlets and decided to try Backcountry Cowboy Outfitters to see if they had any guided kayak tours open. Their guided tours were filled for the day, but they had kayaks available for rent. We reserved a double kayak and then walked down the street to Mangrove Mike's for some breakfast.
When we were ready for our self-guided tour, we followed "the guy" to a little marina just down the road where he put the kayak in the water
and gave us a few instructions. The most important piece of information was to use the radio tower as our landmark. It would be visible wherever we went, or so he said, and help us find our way back "home."
And, we're off!! We headed for the far side of the mangroves so that we would be protected from the winds. (Our hotel was on the Atlantic Ocean side, but we were kayaking on the Florida Bay side.) We were amazed at the number of jelly fish in the shallow waterways. (That's a jellyfish on the paddle.) Eeeeesh. "Please don't let us tip over. Please don't let us tip over." We saw a couple small sharks (didn't get pictures), brown pelicans, cranes, and a few small fishes.

As we were approaching some mangroves, we could hear all kinds of racket. Katie said, "There's a bird in there. Give me your camera." I passed my camera back to her and she just stuck it into the mangroves and snapped it. We crashed into the mangroves, birds squawked and wings flapped, and then we saw a little nest with an egg in it. It was only when we developed some pictures after we got back to Miami Beach that we saw that, indeed, Katie got the picture of a neat-looking bird.

We thought it odd that we never saw anyone else out kayaking. We saw fishing boats and speed boats, house boats, and sailboats, but no kayaks. They don't know what they were missing :-)
Almost 4 hours of paddling and floating and oohing and ahhing went by quickly. Sure enough, the radio tower was in sight and we headed for shore.
We called the Backcountry Cowboy dude, he picked up the kayak, and we went on our merry way.
It seemed important to me to stop in Key Largo (blame it on the Beach Boys) so I could say I had been there, not just driven through. So we dragged Olivia out of the glove box and did a search. We decided to stop at John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park. It's an underwater park that "preserves miles of coral reef and other habitats for divers and snorkelers," but it was getting late so all we did was walk around a little and take a few pics. People were swimming but the water looked pretty gross and the shoreline looked even worse.
I guess I'm spoiled, but I prefer white sand beaches and clear waters that let me see what's on the bottom of the ocean floor.
We continued up US 1 and got back to Miami at about 7pm. We finished our day with take-out from Lime Fresh Mexican Grill. Mmm Mmm good!!
Stay tuned for the final chapter of our wonderful mini-vacation.

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