February 19, 2022
In 1513, Ponce de Leon, called the Keys ”Los Matires.” The name means the martyrs, names for the natives which, from a distance, de Leon thought looks like suffering men. Calusa and Tequesta Indians populated the islands at that time. Native peoples have been here for at least 12,000 years. They were living in villages by about 7,000 years ago, and firing pottery 4,000 years ago.
Permanent European settlers arrived about 300 years after de Leon, taking advantage of the fishing as well as the treasures to be reaped from shipwrecks in the area.
We flew into Miami yesterday, leaving below zero temps in Minnesota. What a treat to get off the airplane and find that it was hot! At least, it was to us, definitely in the 80’s. Our dry, scaly skin has begun to soften, and our hair to curl up in the humidity. This is heaven to us.
This morning, we headed to the Keys, driving over the Card Sound Bridge which arrives at Key Largo a few miles east of the Hwy 1 bridge. We were interested in visiting the Dagny Johnson Key Largo Hammock Botanical State Park.
The park has about 6 miles of hiking trails. We hiked a fraction of the park, but enjoyed being outdoors on this warm, sunny days. Unfortunately, the mosquitoes were enjoying it too, especially the fresh blood that I supplied. We spotted a Brown Anole lizard in a tree, puffing up its red dewlap to warn us away. Unfortunately, it ran off before I could get my camera focused on the dewlap. There were several Poisonwood Trees. I asked Mark to touch it and see if he reacted, but he wouldn’t oblige me. Sigh!
Traffic was pretty heavy on US Route 1, as vacationers like us chased the sun. This section of US1 is also called the Overseas Highway, and it was first constructed in the 1920s. Initially, the entire route was not connected; with one segment running from eastern Key Largo to Matecumbe Key, and the other from No Name Key to Key West. If you wanted to connect, you could take a ferry to cover the 41 mile gap. The segments were eventually connected, with the entire route opening for traffic in 1938.
The slow traffic made it easy to take a detour or two along the way. The first, and most fulfilling was at the Key Lime Pie Factory in Tavernier. One of our goals on this trip is to sample as many key lime pies as feasible, so we can assess for ourselves where the best one is made. This was a good start. You could have a slice of pie with whipped cream, with chocolate sauce, or plain. There was even a chocolate dipped frozen key lime pie slice. Fortunately, I didn’t see that until we left, or I would probably have had chocolate all over my shirt. Several people stopped in to buy whole pies for the road.
We enjoyed our pie in their lovely Serenity Garden. If you wanted, you could purchase a love lock to add to their very large collection.
Because of the heavy traffic, we thought it would be wise to continue to our lodging for tonight. We are staying at the Rainbow Bend Resort in Marathon. Right now, I’m sitting on the beach, looking at the many cranes, herons, egrets and other water birds. There is a gentle breeze, which just might lull me into a nap.
Dinner tonight will be at the Hideaway Cafe, located at the Rainbow Bend Resort. We had driven this route about 20 years ago, and stopped here for dinner. We have never forgotten how good it was, so made it a point to stop here.
And it was still good! Mark enjoyed the half duck, and I had the seafood special. Although I wasn’t planning to take my leftovers, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to have it wrapped in a swan! Dessert was a carrot cake, with a message for our anniversary coming up on 2/22/22 – 2 decades! After dinner, we went to the beach to view the stars – a clear night with no urban light pollution to spoil the view. Gorgeous!