This looks heavenly, doesn’t it?
I’m sometimes still a little torn about the way we decided to spend our second, and final, day in Florida, but when I look at this picture I think “Ah, that wasn’t so bad.” 🙂
The thing about the States is – and we were yet to comprehend the full meaning of this – that they are VAST. I come from a very small country in Eastern Europe, and I live in a smaller country still in Central Europe. In my mind, anything that is 4+ hours away by car is literally abroad; in any direction. So planning a trip for the US was a tall order.
This proved to be so in Florida more than anywhere else. See, there were two main things I had in mind for this leg of the trip. One – as per every-single-person-who’s-ever-been-there’s recommendation – rent a convertible and drive down to Key West.
Renting the right car: Check!
Two, go to the Everglades. If there’s one thing – apart from theme parks and old people – that Florida is famous for, it has to be the Everglades. If not, I’m way behind on my info. Because this national park spans over 1.5 million acres. I’m not even pretending to know how much that is exactly, but that’s a lot of swamp! And, I imagine, a hell lot of alligators!
So here’s the catch: one is an immense wetland, the other, a tropical island archipelago, connected by 120+ miles of highway stretching out into the Gulf of Mexico. And you can only do one! This is where the hugeness of the States really hit us. We made our choice, put the roof of our cabrio down, and drove…
Yes, we chose the leisurely cruise down a highway like no other, with a back-up alligator plan – there’s an alligator park in Key West, someone had told me. But not only didn’t we see any alligators, we never made it to Key West! It’s bloody far! And we had to catch a plane that same afternoon. So when we realised it had taken us over 1.5 hours from Miami to the very first town along Overseas highway (actual name of road, according to his holiness The Internet), we had to stop and rethink our plan.
The pit stop was an en route improv, based on Google reviews, but we were quite pleased with it. We were so pleased, in fact – and so hungry it seems – that we took our time with lunch. Sundowners is an excellent restaurant with beautiful seafood and a covered deck, where you’re basically dining on the water. We had a nice break from the scorching sun, some really good food, and a good laugh upon leaving, when I noticed this peculiar item in the gift shop:
Apparently, it’s a door stop; I just don’t get why anyone would ever want to use this exact model. In addition, the restaurant had a rustic-chic kind of vibe and this… I’m not even sure about this, it baffles me to this day 🙂
After revisiting our plan and schedule, we decided there’s still time to go a little further south before we head back.
We drove for another 30 minutes or so and reached… Not even half-way 😀 Yes, more than 2 hours of driving since we left Miami, and we were nowhere near our goal destination. So half-way had to do, which is how we ended up on the Key West Overseas Heritage Trail. The part we saw was less a park and more a road-side fishing spot, which I was surprised to see was apparently popular.
It was also interesting to take a moment and think about where you are and how you’ve got there:
But you can only do so much contemplating on a spot like that. We’d already had more than enough sun for one day (especially after getting sunburnt the day before), so we headed back to the mainland and straight to the airport.
Well, maybe not quite… There was oneeee little detour on our way to Fort Lauderdale.
Did I mention there are two Hard Rock Cafés in Miami? :))) Yes, we visited both.
About 15 souvenir glasses later, the initial allure of the franchise is more than a little worn out, but the music that the paraphernalia belongs to will never seize to fascinate and move me, so I will keep going in for a beer and some buffalo wings in every new location I find. Unless it’s in London, or at least that’s what living there has proven.
One last look at the relentlessly blue sky and ocean and off we were to the Rocky Mountains! But as much as I was excited to go to the mountains and start the actual road trip, I couldn’t get the sunshine and the beach mood out of my head yet. And I kept humming this upbeat careless little melody to myself all the way to the airport? What was it agai– Oh… right… duh! 😀