After a week in Fort Desoto Sate Park we packed up and headed south to the keys. The route south took us through Sarasota, Fort Meyers and Naples before heading east across Alligator Alley in to Miami. We stopped in Siesta Key along the way to take a dip in the ocean. What a beautiful beach!
In Alligator Alley we turned off and visited Big Cypress National Park for the afternoon.
Big Cypress National Park is one of the three national parks that surround the Miami area. We arrived in hottest part of the day and moved slowly around the visitor center. The surrounding area had so many birds, turtles and fish. We did not see any alligators but were content with some big mosquito bites. After the kids picked up their badges we headed south to Key Largo.
The trip to Key Largo took us through Miami and then south to highway 1. Traveling through big cities with a trailer is always a little nerve wracking. Cars begin to travel faster and condense until it feels like you are driving 80 mph with a trailer with cars on all sides. Thankfully our truck is fast, stable and can stop quickly. The Airstream got new Goodyear Endurance tires which are rated up to 80 mph. Having a blowout in a Airstream can rip up the interior wheel well and cause a lot of damage.
Our first campground in Key Largo had a lot of character to put it nicely. The campground locals were all out and partying. If cigar smoking women is your thing then definitely come on down.
Monday morning came and I headed out for a paddle around the bay. It was so nice to be out in the blue water and warm sun. Out in the bay several dolphins came by to say hi which put a big smile on my face.
Campgrounds in the Keys are all over $100 per night. Crazy to pay that amount of money for a parking spot! About half of all the campgrounds were closed because of the damage done by hurricane Irma. As we traveled south to Key West we saw a tons of hurricane damage. FEMA has a crew of bulldozers and semi trucks that are hauling loads out of the keys. Crazy how much trash the hurricane generated. We saw quite a few freshly bulldozed lots for sale. A few locals told us that a lot of people are leaving the keys to start over after Irma.
One of the more affordable campgrounds in the keys is John Pennekamp State Park. We pulled in early so I could work while Lara and kids took a boat trip out to the reef. The reefs in the keys are all dying from pollution. The kids learned a lot and vowed to help the reefs.
The campsites at John Pennekamp are surrounded by mangroves. We setup camp and started to tackle some lessons with the kids. After a couple of hours Luca’s legs were riddled with big puffy bites. Skye had bites all over her arms that looked like large welts. It turned out no see ums were walking right through our screens in to the Airstream. Luca was miserable and while Lara was closing one of the front windows in the Airstream the glass shattered. Let’s be honest here… Airstream has not updated the archaic latches on the windows since the 1950’s. The system uses two rod/lever thingies that prop the windows up. By applying a little too much uneven pressure the window popped.
After a family meeting we decided to go north to fix our window and take a break from the no see ums. The nearest Airstream dealer is 150 miles away in Fort Meyers. After duct taping a plastic bin lid to the window, we headed North out of no see um land. We pulled off for the night in Alligator Alley’s rest stop.
The sunrise was beautiful that morning!
On the way out of the rest stop we noticed a couple of airboats pulling out in to the Everglades. The boats were transports for crews spraying Deet in to the Everglades.
Sad to see the need for chemicals in such a beautiful place!