2014-03 Bahia Honda State Park

Our time to head north is drawing near...so we are trying to fit it a whole lot of stuff in a rapidly shrinking window of time. Besides tax returns, packing up and battening down, oil change / fuel filter / general maintenance on the truck, and testing the roadworthiness of the RV, we also have quite a few sights we have not seen yet here in the keys. Alas, we are not going to make it to Fort Jefferson Dry Tortugas National Park. About 70 miles west of Key West, it is an expensive ferry ride over and doesn't make sense unless we take the tent and spend a night over there - can't get to it this year.

However, just 22 miles south of us is the must-see Bahia Honda State Park with lovely sandy beach (on the Top 25 List for Beaches in the U.S.), camping, hiking, kayaking, snorkeling...including a snorkel trip out to Looe Key National Marine Sanctuary. The rail bridge also known as Flagler's Folly has a fascinating history. We did a ranger-led hike on their short "Silver Palm" trail and strolled through the waters of Sandspur Beach, did not snorkel because of 5ft visibility. Would be very willing to spend a season at this park!

Heading up to the bridge

Walking through a seagrape tunnel, colorful and beautiful

Blue turquois waters of the Atlantic

On the bridge path

The old bridge is no longer accessible (or safe)

Looking back from the bridge to the beach, campground, and overseas hwy to the left

Beautiful beach with very fragrant Sea Lavender

Gary sporting his new "Bahia Honda" hat

Rental Kayaks available

The short hiking trail featuring endangered "Silver Palms"

On Sandspur Beach

The sea grapes are very colorful

Boat entering harbor

A couple of pelicans on the jetty, with fantastic RV sites in the background

The bridge is very photogenic

2014-03 A great visit with Suanne

At Mangrove Mike's Art Gallery
Gary's sister Suanne made her way in her "Prius RV" across the US, for a two-week visit here at Jolly Roger and exploring the keys. Suanne is a traveler extraordinaire who has a terrific blog chronicling her travels: http://suanneonline.blogspot.com  We enjoyed exploring with her at the local parks, sharing some shark fishing excitement, and trying out more of the local eateries. We had a great visit but the time flew by way too fast!

Long Key State Park


Portuguese Man 'o War Jelly Fish

Kayaks for rent at Long Key State Park

Tree roots at the Windley Key limestone quarry

Beautiful bloom on a Geiger Tree

Barbed Wire Cactus
Wrapping right up the tree

Amazing Mangroves

Osprey nest
Bougainvillea at the Dolphin Research Center

The two momma dolphins working with trainers

Sue and Gary checking out the big birds at the DRC

Pea Fowl at the DRC


2014-04 Shark fishing from the dock

Gary has been fishing for shark from the dock at night, and has hooked onto some big ones, many of which have managed to break his line within a few moments. He recently "upsized" to 100-pound test and this allowed him to actually bring one in! 

One night we were alone on the dock initially, but with the "zing!" of the line when the shark hit, soon there were a dozen or so spectators out on the dock to see what he landed. It was about a 45 minute fight, with the shark zig-zag'ing out to the west, then the east, then north...but eventually Gary had it close enough to the dock for us to see its dorsal fin and tail and guestimate it was a 7-8 foot shark, most likely bull shark.

Ultimately though, the shark tangled the line around the snorkel area bouey line and then he was stuck. Sharks can't breathe if they can't swim, so Gary and another brave soul grabbed a skiff from shore and paddled out to cut the massive man-eater free. Reel life heros. As we watched, the shark had stopped struggling and disappeared from the surface. All concerned onlookers feared the worst. Fortunately though, upon the approach of the rescuers, the shark mustered up the strength to break the leader and swim free!

Gary reeling in a big one
Launching a skiff to rescue a shark

Returning victorious with all limbs intact

Stormy waters at Jolly Roger

Here are videos from a recent storm...a boat tied at the dock came loose and proceeded to tear up the dock,  ripping a dozen boards loose. Fortunately, two brave souls risked life and limb to get ahold of the lines and re-tie the boat securely where it could ride out the remaining storm.



The Golden Orb Spider

Throughout Florida we have encountered this little creature but in particular abundance here in the keys. The Golden Orb Spider is not the largest spider but is known for its very large and strong web. They are common in mangrove and and tropical woodlands called hammocks. When hiking in the keys, you have to keep your eyes sharp and watch for these lest you walk through a web. See if you can spot the little beasties in these photos I took at Crane Point.

Interesting fact: the silk of this spider's web is almost as strong as Kevlar.