Sunday, October 19, 2014

September 21, 2014 (11th Day) Chokoloskee, FL - HOME

We had a good night's sleep.  There were boats getting ready to go out on the water before we checked out of the campground.  We wanted to eat out for breakfast, asked the campground manager for recommendations. He suggested for us to go to Island Cafe in Everglades City. The foods were hearty and good.

After breakfast we started our journey back home. There were lots of clouds in the sky, making it pleasant to watch and imagine shapes.

On 29-A (New Market Road) there were many Spanish stores and restaurants.  Also, lots of nurseries selling all kinds of palm trees.

We got back on SR 29 from 29-A, then left on 27 (also known as Purple Heart Highway).
A very pleasant drive along that route.  There were wild turkeys out there.

The clouds were awesome today!

Wild Turkeys

Don't rob this place!

Before reaching Orlando we decided to get on I-4 instead of staying on Route 17 because we wanted to be home before nightfall.

We made it back home at 6:45 pm. It is always nice to be back home, but we are ready for another trip soon!

Miles Driven: 356
This is the route we took!

Total Miles Driven for 11 days: 1,401.25

September 20, 2014 (10th Day) Bahia Honda Key, FL - Chokoloskee, FL

Edith was up first at 7:40 am, stepped out of the van to find that she missed sunrise by few minutes.  There was gentle breeze and the weather was pretty.  85˚

It was time for us to check out of the campground.  We went by other campground section within the state park.  It looked nice, but there is no access to the beach. Next time we come here we will want an ocean view site with access to the water.

Now on US 1 going North we saw Sombrero Key Lighthouse in the distance, south of Pigeon Key, FL.

Hundreds and hundreds of motorcyclists were either going north or south, almost non-stop.  There was some kind of fund raising event going on for bikers. 

We stopped at Tom Thumb in Marathon, FL to get gas fill-up.

There were two Roadside attractions that we wanted to check out. One is Angel fish statue in front of the dive shop.  Edith saw a banner advertising GoPro cameras, decided to go in to see if they have polarizer filter she could get for her GoPro camera, but they did not have it in stock. The other attraction is the largest Lobster, further down the road.

Inside the dive shop

There is a road construction going on between Bonefish and Grassy Key. They are widening the roads to 4 lanes.  

There are two state parks that we wanted to visit:  Curry Hammock State Park (SP) and Long Key SP.  Curry Hammock SP is small and nice, but very quiet.  Kayak rentals are available for navigating mangrove channels.  Small beach and few shelters.  There was a birthday party in the planning.  We watched a little girl, along with her mother, playing with a kite.  Long Key SP was ok, definitely not on our list for future camping.

We had heard so much about tarpon feeding at Robbie's Tarpon Feeding in Lower Matecumbe Key that we had to check it off our bucket list.  To feed tarpon you pay $3 for a bucket of seven threadfish plus $1 per person for admission. Erwin was the first one to feed tarpons.  One seagull stole a piece of fish while Edith was holding it above the water.  Last fish piece the tarpon jumped and grabbed Edith's hand.  They do bite!  It was lots of fun.   Pelicans, egrets, snowy egrets hung around hoping to get a free meal of fish. One pelican did steal a couple fish from the bucket while the lady was not looking, there were signs saying "do not feed pelicans".  Even though you know the tarpon is going to come up and grab the bait fish, it scares the dickens out of you each and every time, much more fun than riding a roller coaster!  You still get the thrills each time the tarpons jump.  The big tough looking motorcycle rider was a wimp when feeding the tarpons!

The big fish is a Tarpon, the smaller ones are Jack Crevalles, If the
Tarpon misses his fish, he can forget about it as the Jacks will get it
 before he can turn around.
Jumping Jack Flash!
Tarpon Jumping for the bait fish.
(Isn't this a wonderful action shot?)

Waiting for an opportunity to grab a free meal!
This one too!

It was worth getting a little scratch for the memories!
Edith's wrist
Lost items - there were hundreds of sunglasses,
watches, cameras, cellphones
That was fun!
There are arts & crafts shacks nearby. We took a stroll around and there are some nice stuff we wish we could have.

Conch Shell at Theatre of the Sea Attraction

Visited Hurricane Monument in Islamorada. It happened during Labor Day in 1935. At that time hurricanes were not given names, but by date/location.  It was the first of three Category 5 hurricanes, along with Hurricane Camille (1969) and Hurricane Andrew (1992) during the 20th century. Over 400 people were killed in the Keys.

Another Roadside attraction: Spiny Lobster statue. It was in front of a small shopping village to take pics of the spiny lobster sculpture. We went inside the stores and it was very hot/humid.

We decided to stop at Mrs. Mac's Kitchen in Key Largo for lunch.  The interior was very interesting. Edith chose coconut shrimp with french fries and Erwin had alligator tenders with french fries and cole slaw.  Excellent meals. Thumbs up!

Interesting decor

We exited the Keys at at 3:25pm.  We were supposed to head back home, but as soon as we got to Miami city line we changed our mind and decided to spend one more day somewhere.  Erwin wanted to get on Tamiami Trail, a very nice drive and not much traffic. He was hoping to see alligators in the canal and we saw few.

When we had kayaks few years ago we came to Chokoloskee for annual paddle event and had fun, so we decided to check into this town to camp overnight.  We got a site at Big Cypress Trail Lakes Campground and it was few steps away from the boat ramp and dock. 

As soon as we got settled down we went to the dock to fish.

We caught nothing but Catfish, we threw them back! :-(

This young lady caught a 32" snook, the largest she has caught
Somebody else had a nice day catching fish!

Miles Driven: 192

Saturday, October 18, 2014

September 19, 2014 (9th Day) Bahia Honda Key, FL

We were going to check out of Bahia Honda and be on way back home, but we enjoyed our time here. We went back to the ranger station and asked if there is any available ocean view site that we can move to for one more night.  The ranger looked it up on the computer and said "Yes, there is one left".  We quickly paid for it, went back to site #8,  gathered everything, moved the camper van to site #14.  What a better view!  

We moved to campsite #14 right on the water.

We wanted to take a break from sightseeing and exploring by staying here for the day.  We just wanted to do some fishing.  We gathered our fishing stuff, biked over to the jetty near the tent site area and spent few hours there.  Although we did not catch big fishes, but we got enough for our supper. That was what we really needed: a lazy, relaxing day

We fished right here on this ledge, we could see fish swimming
just below and that made it very interesting to
watch them steal bait and finally some of them got caught!

The fish said "Throw me back in the water"
Erwin cooking surf & turf (Yes, he can cook when he wants to)
Fish & Ribeye Steak
Enjoying the quiet time by the water
Great Blue Heron
It found a fish carcass that was discarded by anglers
We did not think it was able to swallow it whole
BUT it did!!!  (after 10-15 mins)

We got to watch all this happening!  Awesome!

Miles Driven: 1/4 of a Mile