Vacation to the Florida Keys
Hello again, Herb Gingold here from RV Intelligence. We are taking a break from talking about products, and I want to tell you about the friends we met on our trip to the Florida Keys for the 4th of July. It was an amazing adventure of family, new friends, great food, excellent RV parks, and a remarkable location.
We set our sights on the Florida Keys. We chose to have our main activities be snorkeling at John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park, America’s underwater national park, and then the fireworks in Key West Harbor, a great place to see really good fireworks. Along the way we discovered one of Florida’s little known theme parks and made an amazing 21 new friends! We used no tollways, only state roads and minimal highways. We took the time to see what was around us.
Right out of Orlando we headed south along old 441. The first sight was the old Desert Inn at Yeehaw Junction, a famous stop on the road to Miami for decades, still in operation. Further down the road we hit Okeechobee and came upon the most incredible collection of war relics (tanks, helicopter, torpedo). I am a huge fan of military stuff, so we stopped and read the plaques. As a veteran myself, the site caused me to pause and reflect. Continuing on, we went through the most trackless farmland in the US, miles upon miles of sugarcane. There are snakes and gators in those cane fields, and stopping was not an option! Our course took us along the banks of the great Lake Okeechobee, so vast it can be seen from space. Finally we reached our first camping stop, the KOA campground at Lion Country Safari. What a great campground, but the most fun was hearing the lions roar in the morning. The real surprise was Lion Country Safari, a fun treat and a recommendation if you are in South Florida.
Our next leg took us down Krome Avenue along the Everglades and merged us onto the bridge to Key Largo and our first stop, Keys Palms RV Resort. They have a first class RV park with top notch facilities. The pool was warm and full of folks, and this is where we met our first new friends, vacationing there to go diving. We had a snorkel trip in the morning in the state park, but after getting to know them, they asked me to go diving with them in the afternoon. I was thrilled! I love to dive and my wife said it was cool. Our snorkel was incredible; we saw a wonderful thriving reef, many fish, and even a nurse shark. The dive was perfect; ideal conditions, experienced dive buddies, and a great dive boat. We bonded on our dive and I offered to take the kids fishing at the Palms RV pier. Not only did we catch fish, but we helped some nice folks bring their boat in and filet some fish. These things don’t happen at a hotel! Snorkeling, diving, fishing – all in one day.
The next day we were off to Key West; 100+ miles of a two-lane bridge over water. We entertained ourselves with research on the Keys and its history, learning about the Conch Republic. We saw pieces of Henry Flagler’s rail line, older bridges too scary to consider driving on, and a preserve for the Key Deer, the smallest deer in America and an endangered species. We arrived at our campground, Geiger Key Marina Fish Camp and RV Park, and found what most folks want to find in the FL Keys, an open air bar/restaurant hugging a salt-water finger of shark pass with all the authentic Key West feel you could ask for. The bonus of the 4th of July week was watching Navy F/A-18’s from Boca Chica NAS doing touch and go and other maneuvers. We had our own private air show!
The highlight of the 4th was the fireworks from the harbor cruise. What a great time with Cliff and Laurie from South Africa; sharing the 4th with visitors from another country made it special for us. On the 5th we offered the extra seat in our truck to anyone who wanted to join in our “events de tourista” in Key West and our new friend Manolo’s son decided to join us. Our events in Key West included some of the more offbeat attractions, the civil war museum at Fort East Martello, the Truman Little White House, and of course the Key West lighthouse. We found the Mile 0 marker on US 1, and the US Southernmost Point marker and took a picture, must-do’s in Key West. Back at Geiger’s, Manolo was preparing a feast for all, and it was the best Latin food you ever tasted. Myself and new friends, with cigars and drinks, talked to the wee hours, the RVing life for sure.
We met so many people at each campsite! We helped a camping neighbor with his truck and our daughter met other kids to spend time with. No one in a hotel gets to meet, understand, and share with their neighbors like they do in campgrounds, and that is why we go camping!