Off to the Keys

I have traveled to Florida many times in the last 10 years, since my friend Bel moved there in 2000. I immediately fell in love with Florida, even though it isn’t cool to love Florida if you are from the western part of the country. Westerners don’t know what they are missing. There is a gentleness in Florida, reflected in velvet air, soft gulf waters, fluffy white clouds amid blue skies and soft winds that send the treetops swirling. Sometimes too much swirling, of course, but not when I have been there. In spite of my many Florida excursions to the northern part of the state, I could never manage to get past the human crowds of Miami to get to the the Keys.

We planned this trip for the MoHo, with long stays in lovely state parks, but that one will have to wait a bit. Instead of waiting for that day to come, we scheduled a quick flight to Miami, rented a car, and drove the magical drive via the Overseas Highway 1 to Key west. My goal is turquoise water, white sand, warm velvet air, and tropical plants. I also plan to market test as many offerings of Key Lime pie as I can manage and drink a few margueritas.

We have traveled to Miami twice in the last year, both times as a destination for embarking on a cruise. This time, however, we flew from Sacramento, with a short stopover in Houston, and arrived Miami at 10:30 pm. Once there, however, things were a bit messy after we picked up our little Chevy compact. Leaving the rental facility, with simple directions to downtown, everything seemed just fine. We entered the toll booth, paid our fare, and continued another few hundred feet before red signs warned us that I-95 South was closed all lanes ahead. Hmmm. As we drove north, with no clue how to get where we were going, I attempted to give Mo an on-the-fly lesson on how to work the iPhone mapping system since I was the one doing the driving. It made for some very funny moments, and eventually we pulled up in front of the Rodeway Inn, Miami Airport. Ha!

Accommodations in Miami run the gamut, but inexpensive isn’t on that list. The place was the least expensive, at a clean 90 bucks, we got a bed. Period. With a stay of one short night we didn’t mind, but I surely wouldn’t want to have to spend any more time there.

Next morning, wakened early by the lovely sounds of Miami traffic, we ate the complimentary breakfast in the little cafe next door (not much to speak of there) and headed for the Keys. The drive through the southern parts of Miami-Dade county was interesting to see once. Traffic was steady, but I was amazed at how smoothly it flowed. Within an hour we were in the southern glades and approaching Key Largo. Surrounded by water and leaves on all sides, we knew at last we were beginning the adventure part of this trip.