Home > Events > 2008
March 4 - 12
Vacation to South Beach and Key West, Florida

Our tropical vacation for 2008! We travel to the far ends of the US in search of white sands and warm turquoise waters. We decide this year will be Southern Florida with a couple days in vibrant South Beach and then the rest of week at the most southern point in the continental US... Key West...

Tuesday, March 4:
We flew the redeye from San Francisco direct to Miami, arriving on Wednesday morning, March 5th at 6am. To our surprise the gloomy forcast for Miami was so far inaccurate, the skies were sunny, clear, warm in the mid 80s and muggy.

Wednesday, March 5:
We quickly picked up our luggage and then took a shuttle to our rental Pontiac G6 and then we were on our way. It was an early weekday morning so we had to contend with the morning commute. Our first stop was a tour of the historic Biltmore Hotel located in Coral Gables, just south of the airport. This National Historic Landmark was built in 1926 serving world leaders, presidents and celebrities. The hotel's enormous pool is where 'Tarzan' Johnny Weismuller broke the world record and where Esther Williams performed her water ballet. We toured the grounds and lobby on our own before heading out for breakfast and much needed coffee at American Diner.

After a very non-descript breakfast we drove down toward the Fairchild Tropical Botanical Gardens, a large 83 acre collection of tropical plants establlshed in 1938. On our drive we came to the conclusion that we've encountered the WORST drivers while in Miami... pure wacko! The tropical gardens were beautiful and lush, and the park had numerous sculptures by famed glass artist Chihuly. A large conservatory contained countless orchids and rare tropical plants we've never seen before. We also encountered numerous large and colorful iguanas freely roaming the grounds.

We then drove up toward Miami to Villa Vizcaya, this huge estate built in 1916 was once the winter home to industrial magnet James Deering of the International Harvester Company. This huge Italian style home and gardens sits on the edge of Biscayne Bay. Sometimes called the "Hearst Castle of the East". On our short drive up to Vizcaya, the clouds quickly darkened and suddenly opened up pouring rain. We waited in the parking lot for the rain to subside before entering Vizcaya, there was quite a distance from the parking lot to the entrance booth to the actual mansion, so we would have been soaked. We braved the pouring rain to enter Vizcaya where we toured the home's lavish interior while it continued to pour outside. The home's interior retains much of the original furniture and opulent decorations throughout the numorous rooms of this three story house. One of the main tourist draws to Vizcaya is the gardens, we waited until the rain stopped so we could walk around the lush grounds. However most of the formal gardens was flooded from the deluge so we could only see so much. The formal grounds had numerous paths, coral structures and orchids everywhere. The rear of the house featured a dock and a faux sunken pirate ship facing Biscayne Bay. Note: interior home photography was forbidden in Vizcaya.

The clouds lightened up so we then headed over to Key Biscayne. We drove over the Rickenbacker Causeway to the resort community of Key Biscayne, and we drove toward the very end of the island to Billy Baggs Cape Florida State Park. We headed to the oldest standing structure in the Miami Area, the Cape Florida Lighthouse built in 1825. We couldn't tour the actual lighthouse, since it was closed. The sun started to break through the storm clouds so we changed into shorts and walked along the beach. We didn't stay here long before heading to our next destination.

Crandon Park was just up the road in Key Biscayne, this huge park and expansive beach was full of palm trees and not many tourist. It wasn't exactty tanning weather but it was nice to stroll along the beach. The shallow water had numerous sand bars out from shore, we walked onto one of these sand bars several yards off the beach through knee deep water. We also encountered a Portuguese Man-O-War jellyfish washed up on shore. It was now around 3pm and time to check into our hotel in South Beach, so we rinse our feet and headed out.

We head back toward Miami, skirting downtown toward Highway 41 which takes us to Miami Beach / South Beach area. We find the hotel easily on Collins Avenue and 14th, The Nassau Suite Hotel. To our surprise, there was a confusion in our reservations, they had us for May not March! Luckily there was space available but the room wasn't ready. We parked the car in their lot and took a stroll along the main attraction in town, Ocean Avenue with it's numerous restaurants, art deco hotels, and trendy bars, this area of South Beach is often referred to as the "American Riviera". We take a short stroll along the pedistrian busy street making one stop to check out the Mediterranean-Revival former home of fashion designer Gianni Versace. The front steps of his home is famous for where he was gunned down in 1997. We walk back to our hotel where our room was ready for us. We had room 303 on the top floor (3 floor hotel) at the rear back corner. We quickly unpacked our bags and took a much needed shower. We relaxed before headinig out to dinner. We had a nice Italian dinner right in the middle of all the action on Ocean Avenue at Caffe Milano. We order sea bass and tuna for our meals while I sipped on a large Mojito. After dinner we stroll along the neon heavy art deco hotels of Ocean Avenue soaking in all the action.

We were SO beat from traveling and visiting all the sites that we called it a day! We turn in early. We were so tired, that the rowdy Spring Breakers across the hall were not loud enough to keep us awake.


Click the following names for more information on the places we've seen and visited:
Biltmore Hotel
Fairchild Tropical Botanical Gardens
Villa Vizcaya
Billy Baggs Cape Florida State Park
Crandon State Park
Nassau Suites Hotel
Caffe Milano South Beach (review)

 

Early Wednesday morning at the Biltmore Hotel.

The grand lobby of the Biltmore.

The Biltmore has one of the largest hotel pools in the nation.

A waterfall cascades into the early morning pool.

The front entrance to this nostalgic hotel.

The Biltmore from across the street, was once the tallest building in Miami.

Toby strolling through the Fairchild Tropical Gardens.

Glass artist Chihuly had numerous sculptures throughout the park.

The formal Baily Palm Glade.

Numerous orchids filled the Tropics Conservatory..

Chihuly red glass spears inside the Tropics Conservatory.

Another Chihuly sculpture by the Garden House.

Toby above the Baily Palm Glade.

The largest (and most colorful) iguana we encountered at the gardens, nearly 6' long.

The beautiful gardens had numerous paths and trails to meander through.

The 'amphitheater' at the gardens.

An elegant heron roosts on on a palm branch.

The front entrance to Villa Viscaya in a sunnier moment.

The rear of the house which is on the shore of Key Biscayne.

The rear boat dock resembles Venice Italy, including a fake sunken pirate ship.

A colorful area of the formal gardens.

Alan on a dock pier located at the rear of the house.

The formal gardens were flooded by the rain, what looks like a pool should have been a path.

The view of Biscayne Bay from the rear of the house.

Cape Lighthouse at Billy Baggs State Park in Key Biscayne.

The lighthouse was closed for tours.

The sun came out to brighten up the turquoise seas.

Crandon Park on Key Biscayne and a washed up Portugese Man-O-War jellyfish.

Toby on a sand bar just off shore at Crandon Park, Key Biscayne..

You can walk out for quite a distance in these shallow seas.

Thousands of palm trees line Crandon Park.

View of downtown Miami from Rickenbacker Causeway in Key Biscayne. (Inset: our hotel in South Beach)

Casa Casuarina, former home of slain fashion designer Gianni Versace.

Room 303 at the Nassau Suite Hotels. (top floor, rear corner). A very large room for South Beach at 500 square feet.

Sitting outside having an italian seafood dinner (and a Mojito) at Caffe Milano on Ocean Ave, South Beach.

Toby with the classic art deco blue neon of the Colony Hotel in South Beach.


Thursday, March 6
We woke up on our first full day with sunny bright skies, but the forecast was for clouds and rain in the afternoon. Downstairs, the hotel had complimentary continental breakfast, so we head down for much needed coffee. We get ready for the day and we decide to walk around town while it's dry, we head out toward Ocean Avenue and toward the beach, or Lummus Park. The blue waters of the Atlantic were very inviting so we kicked off our shoes as we strolled along the shore. Tourists were laying out and getting a tan, so we decided to switch our plan around for the day and tour the town later. We dart back to the hotel, only a block away, to gather our beach gear. Back at the beach we head toward the section off 12th Ave, the 'rainbow' portion of the beach. The clouds didn't arrive for a couple of hours, so we got in a good amount of sun. As the clouds thickened, we head back to change and then tour the town.

After we change we walk through the cute little Espanola Way just one block away from our hotel, these two blocks full of mexican restaurants, bars and boutiques. We then head over toward Lincoln Road Mall for lunch. This pedistrian mall built in the 1920's is full of outdoor restaurants, shops, night clubs and bars. We decide to have a quick bite to eat at Rustic Pizza. We then walk toward the larger art deco hotels on Collins Avenue, and stop into the elegant Delano hotel. We walked toward the Shelborne before heading back to our hotel.

The clouds did thicken, but they never produced rain, so after a rest we head to the beach late afternoon. The wind had picked up and the sun was setting so few people were on the beach. We change for dinner again eating on Ocean Ave., but at a different Italian restaurant Hosteria Romana. We both have marsala dishes while I sip on yet another mojita, this one with a large sugar stick.

Click the following names for more information on the places we've seen and visited:
Lummus Park South Beach
Española Way
Lincoln Road Mall
Delano
Hosteria Romana Restaurant


Alan against a palm in Lummus Park which is on Ocean Ave.

Lummus Park is also the beach in South Beach. This morning it was sunny and calm.

We stroll along the beach, soaking up some sun.

We decide to get our beach gear back at the hotel and hit the beach.

We relax at the beach for a couple of hours that sunny morning.

The warm Atlantic ocean was very nice and inviting.

The clouds eventually came so we packed it up.

Toby in Espanola Way. Inset: Rustic Pizza for lunch on Lincoln Road.

One of the many colorful fountains on Lincoln Road.

The 1936 art deco Lincoln Theater on Lincoln Road.

The large art deco hotels on Colins Ave., like the ritzy Delano.

Back at our hotel. Hanging out in the lobby.

Late afternoon on the beach.

The nearly empty beach as the sun begins to set.

We stroll along Ocean Ave before dinner.

Again in front of the famed blue neon of Colony Hotel on Ocean Ave.

Time for dinner, tonight is at Hosteria Romana (Italian)

We sit back away from the bustling pedestrian heavy sidewalk.





Friday, March 7
Friday was our last day in South Beach, we woke up early, had coffee downstairs, packed up our bags and checkout of the Nassau Suites Hotel. We were on the road by 8:30am. Toby drove us west past downtown Miami onto Highway 41, locally known as the Tamiami Trail. The weather was in the upper 70s and partly cloudy/sunny with occasional showers.

We arrived fairly early at Everglades Safari Park along the Tamiami Trail. Upon our arrival we quickly purchased our tickets and boarded a large airboat, beating all the incoming tour buses. Our airboat had a over 20 people on board. Toby and I sat on the very right edge, the crew gave us toilet paper to stick in our ears to muffle the loud air fan sound of the boat. We were quickly off traversing dense narrow water paths on our way out toward to open expanse of the Everglades.Numerous alligator sightings occured on our boat ride but often off the left sidet! A few times the airboat operator turned the boat around so we could view the wildlife. Once the airboat was out in the open we went full throttle at high speeds which was fun. The tour lasted less than 30 minutes before we were back on dry land. There was a short alligator demonstration in the park and afterwards there were numerous trails and elevated boardwalks to explore and see captive alligators.

When throngs of tour buses arrived, that signaled our time to depart, we hit the Tamiami Trail out toward the offical Everglades National Park. It took about an hour drive (and a short stop for lunch at Arby's) before entering Everglades. We first stopped at the Ernest Coe Visitor Center to get familiarized with the ecology of the Everglades, we then drive a couple of miles into the expansive park to the popular Anhinga Trail. This trail has abundant wildlife which can be viewed from numerous paths and elevated boardwalks. The ponds on this trail have a very high concentration of wild alligators.After we explored the Anhinga trail it was time to hit the long road to Key West.

Toby drove 3.5 hours down Highway 1 (The Overseas Highway) down to Key West, the end of the road. This two lane highway was grueling, especially following a slow car. There was a highway patrol car a couple of vehicles ahead of us so no one wanted to speed nor pass. We were relieved to finally reach our destination later that sunny afternoon. We easily located our bed and breakfast, Cypress Inn, on the corner of Simonton and Caroline St., great location close to everything. Jim, one of the innkeepers, greeted us and showed us around the grounds and to our room. The inn is comprised of three buildings, we stayed in the pink Simonton House which has 7 units .Our room (#16) was is on the second floor and faced Caroline Street. We were just in time for happy hour which the inn has nightly at 6pm, they serve a variety of snacks, a warm dish and numerous spirits to make your own drink (whoo hoo).

After a couple of drinks and various snacks we head a couple of blocks west to Mallory Square for their sunset celebration, we missed the actual sunset which was around 6:30pm but stayed a while to view the eccentric street acts which perform nightly. We ate dinner at Two Friends Patio restaurant where we had a wonderful seafood meal topped off with two Mojitos for me!

Click the following names for more information on the places we've seen and visited:
Everglades Safari Park
Everglades National Park
Cypress Inn Guesthouse Key West
Mallory Square Key West
Two Friends Patio restaurant


Everglades Safari Park for an airboat ride.

We head out on our airboat excursion of the Everglades.

Our large airboat skimmng the grasses of the Everglades.

Alan holding on as the boat gains speed.

Toby on the airboat.

One of the many alligators seen from our boat.

A narrow passageway on our way back to the dock.

After the airboat ride there was a short alligator show.

Safari park had paths to roam and see captive alligators.

Elevated walkways meander thru the park.

Our next stop, the Anhinga Trail at Everglades National Park

Numerous wild alligators on the Anhinga trail.

Toby gets close to an alligator.

An Anhinga bird nesting.

The elevated walkway at Anhinga and the vast open wildnerness of the Everglades.

A large alligator rests along the Anhinga trail.

We take a quick picture as we depart the Everglades.

Our long drive to Key West, we cross over the 7 mile bridge.

Our home in Keywest, Cypress Inn (ours is the pink building)

We are in room 16 on the second floor.

Our room has a queen bed and our own private bath.

Happy hour by the pool at our inn. Happy hour was served nightly at 6pm.

Mallory Square sunset celebration. We missed the sunset but stayed for the fun.

Alan and Toby at Mallory Square.

Dinner at Two Friends Patio restaurant.

         


Saturday, March 8
A huge cold front came down from the continental US overnight producing lightening and thunder while we slept, we woke up to dark gray skies, strong wind and rain. The temperature dropped from a balmy 87 on Friday, to barely a predicted high of 70 degrees. This wasn't exactly the tropical weather we wanted, but it was at least warmer than home. We decided to see how the weather played out that morning before deciding what to do. We headed downstairs for breakfast and coffee, during this time the skies lightened and the rain stopped, but the breeze was still strong. We decided to stick to the plan and take the Conch Train tour.

A couple of blocks away was the depot for the Conch Train trolley tour of Key West, we already had purchased tickets so we were ready to board the 10:30am train. This trolley meanders through the streets of Key West while the conductor (Anne was our guide) describes various historical and significant sites throughout the small island. This was a great overview of the city and numerous sites we later visited on our own. They even pointed out the significance of the Cypress Inn where we were staying. The tour lasted a little over 1.5 hours, before disembarking near Duval Street.

After the tour we decided to spend most of the day touring the numerous historically significant buildings throughout town, nearby was the Truman "Little White" House. Numerous US Presidents have used this location as their winter retreat, but most frequently by Harry Truman. John F. Kennedy stayed here during the Cuban missle crisis. We had a very informative guided tour of the home which was intact with most the original furniture. No photography was permitted inside the house. After the hour tour it was time for lunch.

We headed down to Mallory Square to have lunch at a popular evening restaurant for Cuban food. We ate at El Mason de Pepe and had pork sandwiches, plus I had two rum runners. We decided to eat on the patio despite the cool breeze, but the persistant wind made the restaurant eventually decide to pull down their plastic rain guards to lessen the wind (most people ate inside). We then walked out onto the nearly deserted Mallory Square which was on the side of the island where the wind was hitting the hardest. We head back to our inn to add an additonal layer of clothing to keep warm.

We then head down to tour another historic home. Famed author Ernest Hemingway made Key West his home for many years, his former home is open for tours. We arrived later that afternoon just in time for a guided tour of the large two story home. Our very informative guide (who had a great speaking voice) told us numerous stories of Hemingway's life on the keys and how his life on the keys influenced many of his novels.

We tried to tour the Keywest Lighthouse afterwards, but it was already closed for the day. So we head back to he inn to rest and then go to happy hour. Although the weather was a bit on the cool and breezy side, the skies had cleared up. This would be the perfect night to head down to Mallory Square for the sunset celebration. So halfway during happy hour we head out toward Mallory Square to brave the brisk cool wind to watch the romantic sun set over the Gulf of Mexico. The square was crowded despite the cool breeze, I took tons of golden sunset photos. Once the sun had set, we head back to the inn for the remainder of happy hour (priorities!).

Click the following names for more information on the places we've seen and visited:
Conch Tour Trains
Truman Little White House
El Mason de Pepe Restaurant
Ernest Hemingway House

 

After the morning rain we head over to board the Conch train for a tour of Key West

This trolley drives thru the steets of Key West pointing out sights.

We get our own row on the first car.

The train heading south toward the southern most point and the red Customs house.

The train passes by beaches, the lighthouse, and some entertaining conch blowers in a park.

The train driving by the cemetary and down Duval street.

After the train we stop by the Shell Warehouse.

Cuban lunch at El Mason de Pepe.

We tour the "Little White House" frequently used by President Truman.

Toby at the White House gates.

Alan at the White House gates.

We tour the former home of Ernest Hemingway.

Our tour group in the master bedroom of Hemingway.

This desk is where Hemingway wrote numerous novels during his stay in Key West. Inset: a six toed cat!

A wide sweeping balcony surrounds the entire Hemingway house.

Hemingway's house is across the street from the Key West Lighthouse.

Popular Sloppy Joe's bar was often frequented by Hemingway.

Sunset celebration at Mallory Square. Tonight was our best sunset, although it was windy and cold.

A sunset cruise out on the waters of Key West.

The sun setting quickly over the Gulf of Mexico.

       


Sunday, March 9

We woke up Sunday morning to bright sunny (yet cool) skies, Daylight Savings started today so it was darker when we woke up. It was a perfect morning to rent a bikes from the inn and to ride thru the streets of Key West. After breakfast and coffee we take off on our bikes and ride to the center of town and the Key West Cemetary, known for the unusual above ground grave sites and funny epitaths. After a short bike ride through grave stones, we headed south toward the marker of the Southern Most Point in the US. This was a popular 'photo' spot so we had to wait in line to take our turn, a nice lady offered to take our photo. Key West is the the most southern point in the continental US. Hawaii is actually further south.

We then rode our bikes along the beaches on the southern side of the island, and we rode out onto the long White Street pier. We then headed west to Fort Zachary Taylor to visit the calm white sand beaches and to tour the old civil war fort. The beach here was sunny and sheltered from the winds. The grounds surrounding the old fort were dotted with various large sculptures by local artists.

It was getting to be lunch time so we stopped for a quick meal at the Casablanca Hotel on Duval street, where I had a burger and Toby had shepard's pie. We were just around the corner from the historic Key West Lighthouse which we then visited. We climbed up the over 80' tower for sweeping views of the entire island.

We then headed north on our bikes to our side of the island and a quick stop at the Key West Historic Seaport marina. We wanted to see exactly where the Dry Tortugas boat was departing so we can find it easily the following morning. The quaint marina area was dotted with numerous seafood restaurants and tour boat operators. Our inn was located just down the street from the marina so we stopped in to rest and take a dip in the pool. The innkeeper had a couple of dogs that freely roamed the inn, they were a couple of black dogs I've never seen before. They were Schipperke dogs, pronounced "SKIPPER KEY" according to Jason the inn keeper. For the rest of the trip our favorite word was SKIPPER KEY!

Later that afternoon we strolled up and down Duval street looking for a sweater. The weather was warming up a little but we didn't want to take a chance on the Monday boat ride being chilly. We found a couple of thick hoodies at one of numerous tourist shops along the street.

After shopping we head back for the required happy hour at our inn. We then change for dinner at Rum Barrel, just up the street. Toby had 'bad' grisely Snapper, I had the Ahi tuna dinner which was fine. The took the price of Toby's meal off our bill. On our way back to the inn we stop to pick up a slice of Key Lime Pie.

Click the following names for more information on the places we've seen and visited:
Key West Cemetary
Southern Most Point Marker
Fort Zachary Taylor
Key West Lighthouse
Key West Historic Seaport
Rum Barrel Restaurant (yuck)

 

The interesting Key West cemetary mostly above ground graves.

The Southern most point in the continental United States.

We bike along the numerous south facing beaches of Key West.

Biking is the perfect way to tour this small island.

We ride out along White Pier.

We ride out to the shoreline along Fort Zachary Taylor.

This secluded beach was nice and clean and protected from any wind.

The ocean along Fort Zachary Taylor was very calm.

This fort was built in 1866 and was important in the Spanish-American War and Civil War.

We tour the 1847 Key West Lighthouse.

Toby ascends the 88 iron steps to the 86' tall lighthouse.

Sweeping views from the top of the lighthouse.

You can see all corners of the island from the vantage point.

The Historic Seaport. A cute colorful row of buildings by the marina.

Ben and Gabbie, the resident Schipperke dogs at our inn.

Toby writing postcards while relaxing by the pool.

Cute neighbor cats on the other side of the inn's fence.

Taking a refreshing dip in the pool.

All dressed up for dinner.

         

 

Monday, March 10
Monday was our big day long boat trip to Dry Tortugas National Park, the most remote national park in the country. We woke up early for our 7:15am check in time at the Seaport marina just down the street. We rode the Yankee Freedom II boat along with about 100 passangers. The boat left promptly at 8am and served breakfast, coffee and beverages. As the boat past Mallory Square we spotted several dolphins leaping out of the sea, very cool. On our ride out of Key West we past several other Keys before reaching open ocean. It tooks us about 2.5 hours and through some choppy waters before reaching our destination at about 10:30am. Fort Jefferson is a remarkable structure which seems to pop out of the ocean from nowhere. This unique and spectacular national park covers numerous acres of prestine coral reefs which surround the old civil war fort. The fort was constructed in 1861 on this island due to it's strategic location in the Gulf of Mexico.

Toby and I toured the fort on our own and then went back to the boat for the provided lunch service. We then picked up some snorkeling gear and hit the wind protected beach on the side of the fort. The beach was beautiful with white coral sands that faded into the glowing torqouise sea surrounding the fort. The water wasn't as flat as we wanted, but you could still snorkel, to my surprise we didn't see much fish but did encounter a large conch shell and numerous coral and sponge formations growing off the side of the fort wall. Most all the passengers were on the beach or in the water at this point, then around 2:45pm the boat loaded up and the boat was off back toward Key West. Heading east we were against the strong wind so we encountered some very VERY choppy seas. I think most everyone was getting queasy from the boat ride back home. It sure was nice to be back on solid ground when we arrived around 5pm.

Once on dry land we headed straight back to our inn to shower and change and to get ready for the ever important happy hour. Later that evening we went out for our nicest dinner on the island, we had an elegant dinner at Cafe Marquesa just up the street from our inn.

Click the following names for more information on the places we've seen and visited:
Yankee Freedom II
Dry Tortugas National Park
Cafe Marquesa Restaurant

 

We arrive at the Yankee Freedom dock at 7:15am.

The boat departs at 8am sharp. We encounter jumping dolphins off shore.

A nice patriotic shot.

The dramatic raising sun as we ride 2.5 hours out to sea.

Toby on the upper deck of our boat which sat 100 people.

Fort Jefferson appears out of nowhere in the middle of the sea.

Once on the island we claim a picnic bench for our stuff before entering the fort.

This is a huge civill war fort built on Dry Tortugas due to it's strategic location.

We toured the numerous floors throughout the fort.

Great views of the sea and the moat wall from the second floor.

The roof of the fort provided for some spectacular views.

Alan on the roof of the old fort.

Toby on top of the fort.

An old lighthouse perched at the top of one of the stairwells.

This moat surrounds the entire fort, this bridge is the only way in or out.

Toby at the most remote national park in the country... Dry Tortugas National Park.

The wind protected beach was picturesque for that typical tropical beach scene.

I couldn't resist a jumping photo at this location.

Toby just before we snorkel along the moat wall.

We didn't see much fish but mostly coral and sponges. I did see a large conch shell.

A fellow boat passanger takes our photo.

A couple of old Cuban refugee boats washed ashore on this coral island.

Seaplanes was another common way to get to the island (quicker too). Inset: Our boat.

Note: Underwater pictures to come


Tuesday, March 11

Tuesday we woke up to solid gray sky and continuous rain. We were planning on spending the last full day in Key West just relaxing in the sun, but we ended up having to make alternate plans. After breakfast and coffee we decide to spend the morning shopping for gifts. We put on our raincoats and headed over to Duval Street and Mallory Square. We spent a good portion of the morning at the Shell Warehouse, a huge store with countless shells from around the world.

Our original plan was to head up over to Bahia Honda state park about an hour drive east of Key West, where the beaches were considered one of the finest in the nation. As opposed to just staying at the inn all morning, we decided to take a chance and head up to Bahia Honda to see if the sky would clear up by then. We stop off at McDonald's on our way out of town. After the one hour drive up to Bahia Honda, the skies continued to be solid gray and the rain became heavier. We just turned the car around and headed back to Key West, by then the skies were clearing up a little and the rain stopped.

Back at the inn we spent a couple of hours by the pool trying to capture the sun which was occasionaly peeking through partly cloudy skies. The pool was a constant 85 degrees which made swimming very nice. After a short time we headed back into town to do more shopping back at the Shell Warehouse. By then the weather was warm and calm and we strolled along the quiet Mallory Square snacking on some Conch Fritters.

We head back to the inn for our last night of happy hour. During our stay we met some interesting couples staying at the inn. One couple came down to take some sailing lessons, another couple came down from Michigan for the week, and the couple we talked to most were down from Delaware for a week for the husband's 13th "Leap Year" Birthday.

After hearing some dining suggestions from the inn keeper and fellow guests, we decided to have dinner at Pepe's restaurant just down the street from our inn. This was one of the older established dining places in town. We had a pleasant meal on our last night.

After dinner we head back to our room and packed for our early departure the following morning.

Click the following names for more information on the places we've seen and visited:
Pepe's Restaurant Key West

 

Tuesday was the most wet day we encountered on our vacation.

The sun finally came out later that afternoon, so we hit the pool to catch some rays.

Numerous lizards could be found in the bushes around town, this one at our inn.

Toby taking a dip at our inn's heated lap pool.

We do some additional shopping around Mallory Square which was quiet and calm mid afternoon.

At Mallory Square.

We just had to try some conch fritters while in Key West.

Performers with fire always entertain the Mallory Square crowds.

The clouds obscured the sun but made for an interesting sunset.

Toby and Alan with the setting sun.

A tourist takes a photo of us on Mallory Square.

We had to take a picture at this cutout in Mallory Square.

Dinner at Pepe's on Caroline Street.

         

 

Wednesday, March 12
We wake up early and gather our belongings for our last breakfast at the inn. Of course our last day was nice, calm, warm and sunny. We left the inn around 8:30am so we can hit the road back over the Keys and toward Miami for our 2:55pm flight back home. The drive is almost 4 hours back to Miami.

On our way back, we decide to stop off at Bahia Honda state park, the park we tried to visit the previous day. The park has remnants of the old overseas train track that once was the only way to Key West, before the new highway was built. The waters were clear and calm that morning and the weather became warm and muggy during our short walk. We walked onto part of the old structure which gave great views of Bahia Honda. We were there only a short while before hitting the road back up to Miami.

Once back in Miami we return our rental Pontiac G6 and hit the busy Miami airport to wait for our flight home. The flight left on time around 3pm and we boarded the nearly 6hr direct flight back home to San Francisco. We unfortunately sat by a group of sick coughing passengers on the long flight. Once back at home Toby's father picked us up and were back home.

We had a great time despite the somewhat unpredictable weather. We still did everything we wanted to. We had a blast!!!

Now to look forward to our next vacation....

Click the following names for more information on the places we've seen and visited:
Bahia Honda State Park

We visit Bahia Honda state park on our drive back to Miami

This 'road' was part of the old railway which went to Key West.

The ocean was extremely flat this calm morning.

Toby out on the elevated walk way.

From the ground you can see the old train track, a good portion of it still stands.

Toby on our last day of vacation... after this picture we head back to Miami and fly home.


For a larger picture set click here to access my MacGallery with nearly 350 selected photos out of over 900 that I took on our vacation (no captions).