Florida 2018: Day 4 - Key Largo


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Florida 2018: [Day 1: Murfreesboro] [Day 2: Merritt Island] [Day 3: Riviera Beach] [Day 4: Key Largo] [Day 5: Key Largo] [Day 6: Key West] [Day 7: Dry Tortugas] [Day 8: Orlando] [Day 9: Columbia] [Day 10: Cincinnati]

Monday, July 23, 2018: We slept in until 8:00 for a change and awoke to a perfect sunny day.
Southern Florida has many beautifully manicured gardens, and these trees serving as a living wall were no exception.
Yet another highway sign test. It was becoming comical at this point.
By 11:00 AM, we were close to Everglades National Park, but we didn't go there.
Instead, we went to Everglades Alligator Farm, ...
... where we would get to take an airboat ride later. This little one was sitting in the parking lot next to our van.
Once inside, there was lots to see. Here's a rhinocerous iguana.
This little brown anole was sharing an enclosure with him.
These guys are called tegus.
Here are some scarlet, blue, and gold macaws.
In the center of the farm is a large pond enclosed by two parallel chain link fences. Four alligators sunned themselves on a shore while a larger group floated in the water just offshore. Right behind this fence are two small seating stands for visitors waiting for the 12:00 alligator feeding, and even though it was still a half hour off, people were already claiming seats.
There were large turkey vultures all over the park.
Tom's on the left and the turkey vulture is on a post on the right to give you an idea of how large these were.
These are Nile crocodiles.
Check out this tree ...
... and it's terrifying large spikes on the trunk. This might be ceiba speciosa.
This assortment of ducks was lounging in the shade.
These geese had some words for us, especially Tom.
Enjoying their own tropical enclosures were this Orinoco crocodile ...
... and this American crocodile right next door.
When we returned for the alligator feeding show at noon, we were amused to find that many more alligators were now on the shore ...
... and in the water. As more tourists filled the seating area, the alligators realized that feeding time was coming, so they came closer.
We watched the alligators get fed and learned a little bit more about them.
Ten minutes later, the show was over and we raced to the air boat dock for our 12:20 scheduled ride.
As we waited in line, turkey buzzards flew overhead. Not ominous at all.
We were lucky enough to be first in line for our assigned boat, so off we went to claim the front row.
Our pilot, Psycho, is ready to go!
We moved slowly through the water at first. See the alligator?
Look more closely.
Now we were all watching closely.
Is there one over there?
Yes, sir.
There's one too.
OK, it's time to hold on to your hat ...
... because here we go!
Oh, look, there's a tiny bit of spray.
But once we got out into more open area, ...
... the pilot spun the boat a bit and we started to get wet, just as we had been warned.
Is that all you got? With a big open lane like this?
This time, we got really soaked. Full-body, wet-purse, concern-for-our-camera wet.
We were wearing headphones to protect our ears from the very loud noise that an airboat makes when it is moving quickly.
We weren't technically in the Everglades but we were less than a mile away, so that was close enough for us.
Tiny shells were scattered among the wood debris here.
We enjoyed one last big boat spin before ...
... following our wake heading back ...
... into quieter waters.
These signs and big fake alligator marked the end of the ride.
Next, we made a beeline to the Gator Bites food truck.
Oh, yeah, here's some delicious deep-fried gator with ranch dipping sauce and fries. The gator was tasty!
Nearby is the snake building.
Here's a carpet python, ...
... anaconda (with his own private swimming pool), ...
... milk snake, ...
... Florida eastern indigo snake, ...
... and beautiful albino reticulated python.
Toward the back is a large series of pens where younger alligators are being raised. These little guys are hatchlings, ...
... these are 1-2 years old, ...
... and these are 3-4 years old.
This large pond display featured huge spotted gar swimming in the water, with a snapping turtle and diamondback terrapin or two hanging out.
These emus were off to the side begging passersby to feed them.
For reasons completely unknown, there was a bobcat display too. No idea why.
There were painted lizards in the same style that we saw the day before. Again, we resisted, but it involved a conversation.
Not far from Everglades Allligator Farm is Robert Is Here, a fruit stand that has been around for decades.
It's now a full tourist destination with amusing things all around.
In we go!
Here's a display of veggies and sauces. But wait, look closer. What's that on the top shelf?
It's a red Swedish Dala horse, right here in the bottom of Florida!
This was a honey sampling display, and Debbie was happy to try four or five flavors.
Tom ordered milkshakes for us ...
... while Debbie did a little shopping. That angry fruit on the left is soursop, AKA guanabana. We also got mango key lime juice and a coconut toast spread that we expected would taste like Singapore kaya but actually tastes like very creamy German chocolate cake frosting.
As we headed to the start of the Overseas Highway, we enjoyed a papaya-passionfruit milkshake (left) and a guanabana milkshake (right). They were so large that we drank half of each and kept the rest in our hotel refrigerator to enjoy for breakfast the next two mornings.
Within minutes, we were passing Long Sound, ...
... then Little Blackwater Sound, ...
... and then massive Barnes Sound.
Hey, let's go to all of these places!
We were welcomed to the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary.
We started to cross the bridge leading to the Keys.
That's Blackwater Sound to our right with Key Largo in the distance.
This tiny boat in Lake Surprise was decorated to look like an adorable little pirate ship. Pirates probably shouldn't be adorable though.
This tourist building had a mural of Underwater Jesus painted on the side. We'd be seeing it the next day.
This was a fateful decision: photographing the first of dozens of Key signs. Once we started, we couldn't stop. Here's Key Largo.
We passed this building several times during the week, but this was the only decent photo we got of it.
Ditto for this adorable manatee mailbox holder, with a baby manatee next to it. Multiple attempts were made, but this was the least blurry. It's still pretty cute though. We saw a couple of other manatee mailbox holders, but this was the only one with a baby.
Welcome to Tavernier! This is the town where we stayed for two nights. It's on the island of Key Largo but shouldn't be confused with the town of Key Largo.
We checked into the beautiful Coconut Palm Inn ...
... and received keys to our room, each with a palm tree keychain.
We also received a rum welcome cocktail.
Our room had its own private balcony.
Here's the bedroom, ...
... and again, looking toward the entrance and kitchenette.
Here's the bathroom.
We changed into our suits and headed out to explore the property. Here's the view from the north end of the property facing south, ...
... and the view from the middle of the property facing north.
We found a pair of chairs with a great view and took the first of several photos here.
Here's a view of those chairs from the pool area.
We hung out in the pool for a while, ...
.. and watched as thunderstorms in the distance appeared to come right for us and then dissipated before reaching us.
Before heading in to clean up, we walked out to one of the boat docks for a larger view of the resort.
We had dinner at the Sunrise Cuban Cafe just a couple of blocks away.
We started with an order of incredibly delicious Cuban toast.
Debbie had skirt steak (churrasca) with white rice and plantains.
Tom had pepper steak with plantains and moro (black beans and white rice). It was really good.
We were back on the resort grounds by 7:00 where there was a light sprinkle of rain, ...
... so we enjoyed our complimentary wine under an umbrella until it passed.
This chicken wasn't bothered by a little rain.
The rain passed in just a few minutes and we returned to our favorite seats by the water.
Here's Tom ...
... and here's Debbie.
Shhh, the sun is setting.
General Manager Tracey was out at 8:00 PM to get the fire started for s'mores. The wood was a little wet so it took a couple of tries, but eventually we had a roaring fire.
Debbie cooked the marshmallows while Tom held the camera and took exactly zero pictures of Debbie. But he did get this photo of the completed s'mores. Priorities, folks.
We enjoyed the fire for a little longer, ...
... then enjoyed one of the hammocks under the lights for a while.
We got one more sunset photo before heading in for the evening.

We had to leave before breakfast service the next morning, so Tracey was kind enough to make a tray of breakfast food for us. There was plenty for breakfast and for snacking later on in the trip.

Day 5 >


Florida 2018: [Day 1: Murfreesboro] [Day 2: Merritt Island] [Day 3: Riviera Beach] [Day 4: Key Largo] [Day 5: Key Largo] [Day 6: Key West] [Day 7: Dry Tortugas] [Day 8: Orlando] [Day 9: Columbia] [Day 10: Cincinnati]

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