October Afternoon In Madison Blue Springs @ Lee, FL

 

Sometimes secrets are just a left turn off the highway on a road trip in Florida.

More Information:
Madison Blue Spring State Park | Florida State Parks
https://www.floridastateparks.org/parks-and-trails/madison-blue-spring-state-park

Madison Blue Spring
http://www.flsprings.com/content/madison-blue-spring

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Bahia Honda State Park @ Big Pine Key, Florida

Heading south on A1A to Bahia Honda State Park @ Big Pine Key, Florida, I had remembered the cadence of my wheels clearing portions of the bridge above the Atlantic. Looking left, I had caught a passing glimpse of the now decommissioned Old Bahia Honda Bridge feeding into the park. One sensation I had recalled most, the summer air blowing against my arm driving toward this destination.

Clearing the bridge, my vehicle had come upon the park entrance on the left side of A1A. After the gate, the asphalt road was bordered by thick greenery. Moving forward, the road had curved few times in different directions. After one curve, it had gave way to views of the shallow waters beyond the guardrail. Perhaps this reveal  was part of the charm of Bahia Honda? All that greenery was followed by the contrasting blue waters and white sands, typical of a postcard of the Florida Keys.

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Arriving at the parking lot, the walk to the ocean was around 100ft through picnic tables into the turbulent waters this May Saturday afternoon. To my chagrin, the waters were remarkably cool for this far south. After taking refreshing quick dip in the ocean, I had hopped back into my car to dry out in the heat. Leaving this park, I had wished only for less foot traffic and more time in the sun. The park had offered flats for fishing, ample beach for swimming and more. Reminiscing about this diversion, I had thought I would very much like to return for another round of exploration.




Bahia Honda State Park is located at:
36850 Overseas Highway, Big Pine Key, Florida 33043
Phone: (305) 872-2353

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Read More:

Bahia Honda State Park (floridastateparks.org)

Bahia Honda State Park  (bahiahondapark.com)

The Stuffed Pig and the Sombrero Resort @ Marathon, Florida

On a brief road trip through the Florida Keys, I had ended up staying two nights in Marathon, Florida. On this adventure, two things had worked in Marathon’s favor versus Key West. The two differences were the cost of getting a room, about 50% less and being equidistant between Key Largo and Key West. Upon checking into the room at the Sombrero Resort and Marina, the amenities were acceptable but, worthy of a 2 out of 5 stars on various travel websites. The WI-FI, though free, was unable to transmit any data. Despite the dreary Internet connectivity and the windy weather, the friendly front desk staff were polite and accommodating. They also had produced an interesting suggestion for dining at a nearby place called The Stuffed Pig.

The great thing about the Stuffed Pig were the selections of eclectic seafood options on the menu and the outside seating area. On consecutive mornings, I was seated inside their front of house. After review of the menu, I had ordered up Shrimp & Grits. This entree was composed of grilled shrimp with grits with sprinkling of cheddar on top. It had also come with portion of smokey crisp bacon, two eggs and toast. The only difference between the first and second day, I had added on a side order of conch fritters day one. The summary on the Stuffed Pig, I had enjoyed both meals enough to clear the plates clean. For myself, that dining experience had made the stay in Marathon, Florida worthwhile.

The Stuffed Pig is located at 3520 Overseas Hwy, Marathon, FL 33050

Sombrero Resort & Marina is located at 19 Sombrero Boulevard, Marathon, FL 33050

Read More:
Marathon, Florida (Wikipedia)
The Stuffed Pig (thestuffedpig.com)

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Long Key State Park @ Long Key, Florida

Long Key State Park had fit the bill for a random interlude for pulling to the side of the road and viewing the tropical surroundings. The great attraction was the quick access to the shoreline. There was very little foot traffic aside from one park ranger. A few benches had lined the side of the parking lot. The bulk of my visit, I had sat in my vehicle looking across the horizon thinking of what tomorrow might bring. The only other drawback was the timing of low tide making swimming in the flat impractical.

Combining the Florida State Park Annual Pass for families with one time seasonal fee of $5.00 for Monroe County surcharge, had made exploring this and other state parks affordable on this road trip down into the Florida Keys.

Long Key State Park is located at 67400 Overseas Hwy, Layton, Florida 33001

Park hours: 8:00 AM until dusk 365 days a year. Admission Fees:

$5.00* per vehicle. Limit 2-8 people per vehicle.

$2.00* Pedestrians, bicyclists, extra passengers, passengers in vehicle with holder of Annual Individual Entrance Pass.

$4.00* Single-occupant vehicle or motorcycle.

* Plus $.50 per person Monroe County Surcharge.

Read More:
Long Key State Park (floridastateparks.org)
Florida State Park Annual Pass (floridastateparks.org)

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Unfinished business in John Pennekamp State Park @ Key Largo, Florida

John Pennekamp State Park @ Key Largo, Florida was the first stop on a recent road trip through the Florida Keys. Different friends and family had suggested checking it out during my travels. One friend had posted this park being one of their favorites. Another had recommended it for the serene surroundings. The last had mentioned the Statue of the Christ underwater.

Upon arriving at the park, winds were brisk and skies overcast. With tide being out, I was dissuaded from going into the water. Staying ashore, I had walked past up the beach past two antique canons facing the waves. Nearby a picnic area was freshly landscaped with a kids’ play area in the far corner. The real appeal of this area were the low hanging tree branches. They had reinforced the laid back appeal of just gazing out across the ocean.

Moving across the street, past the showers were several charter boats handling the onslaught of incoming tourists on buses. I had mixed feelings about that level of tourist activity; however, I had walked past these boats to the nearby dive shop. Inquiring about their daily dives trips, the blonde guy behind the counter had responded these outings kicking off daily at 9 AM and 1:30 PM. “Hmm,” I had wondered.

After getting this piece of information, I had decided to get back on the highway. The goal of the day was getting to Marathon Key. I had conceded returning another weekend with calmer seas and more time. For now, I had withheld my final appraisal of the park’s unexplored offerings. I had known an unfinished adventure in scuba diving lay offshore Key Largo, Florida.

John Pennekamp State Park is located at 102601 Overseas Hwy, Key Largo, FL 33037

Hours: 8:00 a.m. until sundown, 365 days a year.
Admission:
$8.00* per vehicle. Limit 2-8 people per vehicle.
$2.00* Pedestrians, bicyclists, extra passengers, passengers in vehicle with holder of Annual Individual Entrance Pass.
$4.00* Single-occupant vehicle or motorcycle.

*Plus $.50 per person Monroe County Surcharge

Read More:
John Pennekamp State Park (floridastateparks.org)

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