The Sunshine State, part 2.

Howdy! When we left off, Lily and I were still soaking up the sun in the Florida Keys. I spent the second half of our stay scootering around Key West, trekking across the old Seven Mile Bridge to Pigeon Key, and exploring Bahia Honda State Park.

Of course, I enjoyed many Rum concoctions and patronized a fancy little wine bar on Duval Street. Believe me when I tell you that I didn’t want to leave Key West.

Dry Tortugas National Park

This was a huge highlight of being in the Keys. The National Park is located 70 miles from Key West and is only accessible by ferry or seaplane.

I took the seaplane and it was amazing. Flying at low altitude over the pristine Gulf of Mexico showcased a few rusty shipwrecks, some sea turtles, and even a shark or two circling about.

Fort Jefferson is the largest brick structure in the Western Hemisphere and was used as a military stronghold, prison, and hospital quarantine station before being named a National Monument in 1935. It was upgraded to a National Park in 1992.

The infamous Dr. Samuel Mudd was imprisoned here for his alleged involvement in the assassination of Abraham Lincoln. The theory of his intentions is highly debated.

Many Cuban refugees make it to Dry Tortugas on their way to the United States. The refugees are intercepted and their primitive and usually overcrowded boats are towed in and grounded on the beach in front of Fort Jefferson. While I was on the island, I accidentally walked into an area of the fort where border patrol agents were detaining and questioning a group of people that had been captured the night before.

I wandered around and explored the entire island for a good 3 hours and then we all scrambled onto the seaplane and headed back to Key West. It was such an awesome experience that I will always remember.

Everglades National Park

After leaving the Keys, we stopped at the Everglades to try and spot some fresh water alligators. And it was a success. I went on a ranger guided night walk thru the glades on a raised walkway and had no problem summoning the alligators to me.

Camping inside the park among the Long Pines was super fun and lent to some interesting noises and creatures that came out at night. The sunset was really spectacular too.

The Gulf Coast

At the end of the year it was time to begin our journey west. We’ve officially passed the halfway point of this trip and must say goodbye to Florida. On the way out, we stopped at Carrabelle Beach and Destin to enjoy a few final southern sunsets and have one last sunshine state happy hour.

And so, that concludes our time in the Sunshine State. We spent just over 30 days in Florida and had the most amazing time. There are still places I want to see so we will be back again soon.

As always, thanks for following our travels and Happy New Year! We will see you again soon for another adventure update as we cross the Lone Star State on our way west.

Happy Travels!!!