Seacamp

Regis already posted about our most current adventure in the Florida Keys and I’m following up with some additional information.  I went paddle boarding Friday morning and it is astonishing how clear the water is.  I never knew the water was so shallow directly around the keys.  It was lovely and I would like to have stayed out longer but only rented the board for an hour and a half.

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Linda paddle boarding in the Florida Keys. The campground is in the background. The blue roof on the right is the Pub. It turns out the water was so shallow, I didn’t need to wear the personal flotation device.
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Enjoying the pub in the campground.

 

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Sign at the local hardware store. One of our favorites.

I attended a Seacamp on Big Pine Key from last Friday through Sunday.  It was a great experience.  I walked through sea grass beds to see the wildlife, went snorkeling on the reef, and walked through the mangroves.  I dissected a fish, entered the plankton races, and played shark jeopardy.  The snorkeling was my favorite.  I saw more varieties of fish in that few hours than all the fish I have seen all my life and I grew up by the Chesapeake Bay and fished a lot.  I did not bring a camera to the reef.

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Barracuda
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Parrot Fish
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Too many fish to learn. I don’t know what these guys are.
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Key Deer

We are already planning our next excursion to the Keys.  We think we will go for 1-2 weeks and see if we can find someone to stay in our house and watch Dart.  The activities in the Keys are not on his favorite list of things to do.  Although, he does like the iguanas.  I’m pretty sure he thinks they are funny looking squirrels.

We thought the rain and thunderstorms were particularly amazing.  They don’t last long, but they can be wicked.  The lightning show is awesome.  As long as you are watching a great lightning storm off in the distance, it is nice to watch.  I am not comfortable when the flashes and bangs are happening on top of me.

Regis took this video of fish in the sea grass beds.  I think most of the fish in the video are Mangrove Snappers.

Conch Republic, well close

Well we are at it again. Landrtravels is on the move. Linda signed up for a “class” through the Florida master naturalist program. Some class room stuff, lots of lab stuff, which I have to say is outdoor lab stuff and in the keys it seems like any outdoor active is going to be wet. We’ll see about the class stuff later after Linda is done and reports on it.

The plan was we pack up the RV and get to the keys a day before the class and look around. CHECK done that, Pictures and text below. While Linda is in class, Friday night through Sunday afternoon (room and board) Me (regis) and Dart, from the RV base, will go around the lower keys and scope out the RV camps. The goal being to come back maybe January/February with kayaks and snorkel gear. High on the priority list is good water access. Wait a minute, Kayaks and snorkel gear?

Yes. We got a couple of yaks and dive masks and fins and snorkels and roof racks etc. It all stems from the Master Naturalist classes. (these classes are more expensive then they appear) You see, for one of the classes the field trip was a kayak paddle on the ST. Johns River. Now Linda and I have paddled several different yaks and were not impressed at all. BUT, Linda said the yaks used on her field trip were “very nice”. She gave such high praise I had to check them out. Turns out there is an outfitter near Jacksonville that carries the very same model AND the outfitter happens to be located on a spring fed lake AND demos yaks and SUPS right out back on the lake! Well, we go there, they pull down the demo and off I go on the lake. For me it has been my knees and ankles that don’t agree the the kayaks, but for whatever reason as soon as I sat in this one I knew it was right. (love at first sit?) I did paddle up and down the lake but quite frankly it felt good from the start. We left with the vague ‘we’ll think about it’. Two days later we get a marketing post card “clearance sale” from the outfitter! Great timing, we’ll take two please!

Oh and the snorkel gear? A big part of Linda’s class here in the keys is to be IN the water. She could have rented the gear but after thinking about it, do you really want to rent something that has been in someone else’s mouth? ‘Nuff said!

Ok, I think I can hear it all the way down here. “where are the pictures?” Well I haven’t talked about anything that needed pics yet!

 

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First one

 

Driving down through the keys bring us to another part of the country that is absolutely fabulous! The pacific north west with rain forest and volcanos and high desert, the south west with desert and canyons and buttes, and now the south east, just 1 minute of latitude from the tropic of cancer! And you can DRIVE here!

Now, when you close your eyes and imagine the tropics, what to you see?

Coconut palm trees?  Check

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coconuts

Exotic animals?   Check!

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3-4 feet long!

Sharks in the water?  Check!

 

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nurse shark

 

Tiki bar?   Oops closed for season…. Well it not quite the tropics, is it?

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tiki bar

While my idea of the keys was of islands connected by long bridges, it is not so. Most bridges are very short. Now the land that they connect to may be very narrow, with water not 20 feet on either side of the road and just 2-5 feet lower the the road surface, but dry land none the less. Truly amazing to drive down through here.

If Seattle is to coffee shops on every corner, then the keys are to some sort of water sport every ten feet! Rent a boat, sup, kayak. Marine store, bait shop, ICE, BEER. Dive shop on every corner, not quite but still lots. There was one SKY dive sign, seemed out of place.

One more thing to note. As you might imagine it is very flat here. Our camp site is just 3 feet above sea level (if that). I think the keys are no more than ten feet above sea level. (Linda may correct me) This afternoon a thunder storm came through. It poured about an hour, maybe an inch of rain. But being so flat the rain doesn’t have anywhere to go.  4 hours later and there are still large, very large, PUDDLES, 3 inches deep, draining VERY slowly.