It was another bright sunny day with a light wind out of the east. The humidity wasn’t offset by the light breeze, but it was still comfortable out of the direct sunlight or open to the full force of the breeze.
The waterfront was very active on the weekend day. In addition to the campground residents, the day use area was at capacity which is half of normal capacity. They’ve blocked off every other parking space with cones. A couple of kite boarders were back today, but kayaking, fishing and hanging out in the water were the primary activities.
I dug out my water shoes and took and extended walk around part of the island in the water. The bushes make it impossible to explore beyond a small distance on land. In the water, particularly at low tide it is possible to cover a lot more area. The ocean bottom is a combination of sand, gravel and sea grass. You really need something on your feet. I saw lots of crabs and a few little fish. A few additional feet offshore there were signs of bigger fish hanging out. Things that I never caught sight of broke the surface occasionally.
Tomorrow’s weather forecast calls for similar conditions, but as the week progresses the forecast isn’t as positive. It will still be a lot nicer than areas to the north.
I spent most of the day at the campground. My one venture out found the Overseas Highway packed with cars. Turning left across the nearest lane to enter the highway was next to impossible. It will probably be worse tomorrow. There is really only one road that goes anywhere in the keys.
The campground has been full every night I’ve been here, but it has transitioned from tourists to weekenders. A lot of folks from the Miami area make the trip south and west on US 1 to the keys for the weekend. When you make reservations at many of the Florida state parks you can see the weekends get booked faster. To get a two week stay you need to book exactly on the eleven month threshold, but you can often get four or five mid week nights closer to your arrival date.
It was another great weather day. The high humidity and high eighties temperature is kept in check by the comforting sea breeze. During the afternoon a stray dark cloud passes to dump a couple of teaspoons of rain on things.
I was surprised to find the sky empty of Kite Boarders this morning. Apparently the last few days have been a club event or meet of some kind. Each of the days I’ve been here more than a dozen kites were out on the water or staging on the ground in the day use area. Today there weren’t any kite boarder just a few kayaks. I’m going to miss the entertainment.
After a trip into Marathon in search of interesting outdoor activities, I settled for a hike back at the state park on the Curry Hammock Nature Trail. The trail is actually located a mile away from the campground on the opposite side of the Overseas highway. It is on the bay side.
While I enjoyed the hike, I found the trail more challenging than interesting. It is a narrow trail with very uneven walking surfaces. There are a few flooded and muddy areas, but most of the trail is on exposed ancient seabed and tree roots. My eyes had to be down watching the ground most of the way along the trail. That presents two problems. You need to be aware of low hanging branches and I never saw any of the birds I scared out of the trees along the trail. I did manage to see a snake and a lizard. A few louder creatures moving in the brush were completely hidden from view.
The spur trail to the bay side overlook was very wet. The last twenty or so feet it was necessary to hop from rock to rock. At the end the view was expansive, but unexciting. It was a view of lots of blue water, an island and a boat. Looking down into the water there were a couple of colorful little fish. They were much more entertaining than anything else on the trail.
The entire mile and a half loop with fish watching time took a little over an hour. I was dripping in sweat when I got back to the car. Other than a couple of people fishing near the beginning of the trail, I didn’t see anyone on the trail.
Today was the closest thing to a beach day that I’ve experienced in many years. I took a chair over to the little beach along the Atlantic Ocean and sat under a tree for almost two hours. It isn’t a swimming kind of beach, but I even got my feet wet in the warm water. Watching the Kite Boarders helped pass the time. A disruption in the beautiful weather sent me back to my RV home, but the passing cloud that dropped a little rain had moved on before I even made the few hundred feet walk home.
Today was an almost perfect weather day for a change. It was mostly sunny all day. The temperature peaked in the high eighties with lots of humidity. Wind out of the east at 10mph or more kept feeling the humidity in check.
I spent some time today getting familiar with the middle keys. I drove up and down the overseas highway stopping here and there. My first observation is that the area is still recovering from hurricane Irma that hit the area hard in September of 2017. This state park has had major repairs since the hurricane as I understand the other two Long Key State Park and Bahia Honda have as well. The campground at Long Key state park is still closed for reconstruction. Outside the park in the Marathon area some buildings appear to be abandon since receiving major damage. Most of the roadside turnouts near the bridges that I wanted to stop at are closed or in disrepair.
I’m glad my campground is where it is. I only had to drive the motorhome over one fairly short causeway and bridge. Sitting high above the cement sidewalls along the road deck in the motorhome is not a comfortable feeling even if it does give you a good view. Throwing in a little cross wind and it would turn into a real white knuckle experience. Crossing the Seven Mile bridge outbound from Marathon would have been an even more challenging experience on my nerves. Today in my Honda it was interesting enough.
Some of things I was scouting for are parks or nature areas along the water. Usually, I can find directional signs for such places from the main road, but not today. The few brown park direction signs I saw were small and confusing. It wasn’t clear where I was supposed to turn or what I might see once I found the place. I did manage to turn around in one rather narrow private driveway in my wandering today. It’s time to do a little more research with Google Maps.
I also identified a few museums and attractions that might be interesting. The problem is I’m not sure how comfortable I am with visiting such places in these pandemic times. I need to figure out if they are open and what kind or restrictions they may have in place. I would prefer outdoor to indoor activities if I decide to visit. The other question is how busy the places might be. So far, I don’t think there are a high number of tourists in the area. Only a handful of RVs in this campground are from out of state.
Overall today’s weather was OK. The daylight hours started and ended partly cloudy. During the middle of the day the clouds filled in, the wind came up and a couple of fast moving heavy downpours passed through the area. It wasn’t too hot, but it was very humid.
I spent time today exploring the area around the Curry Hammock State Park campground. The campground is located on an island called Little Crawl Key. Most of the island is partially flooded and filled with mangroves. The beach along the Atlantic Ocean is narrow with a lot of grass growing out of the sand. It isn’t really a beach for swimming or sitting either. What it is good for is launching water sports. At one point today there were seven kite boarders racing along at high speed and launching into the air for a stunt or two.
The day use area beside the campground usually rents kayaks to paddle around the island, but the concession is closed to support social distancing. Like at my last stop, it would have been nice to rent a Kayak on a calm day. A few people had brought their own, but the wind was better for the kite boarders than paddling today. This park is apparently “the spot” for kite boarding in the central keys.
Another storm was approaching the area as night closed in. It prevented the sun from providing a nice colorful departure for the day. I’d like to get a few nice sunset pictures while I’m here. Taking pictures may be one of my only diversions while I’m here. I don’t get any local over the air television channels and my internet access is limited. If it wasn’t for my satellite TV, I’d be doing a lot of reading when I’m not out touring.
Today was a travel day. It was also a rainy day which is not the best combination. It started to rain around 9:30 just as I planned to begin the outside packing tasks. I delayed a little, but eventually had to get wet. My biggest challenge was finding a place to hook up the car. Blocking a road for fifteen minutes or so with everyone trying to leave wasn’t didn’t make sense. I drove the car over to the kayak launch then brought the motorhome over to make the connection after I’d finished with the line for the dumping station. Of course, I got wet walking back from the kayak launch parking lot.
It was still raining when I got on the road around 11:30, but I drove out of the rain in about forty miles as I traveled east toward Miami. The day never became sunny. It looked like it could rain at any minute, but so far it hasn’t started to rain again.
Once I reached the eastern side of the Everglades in the Miami suburbs traffic became heavy. The roads I traveled today had many traffic lights and turning traffic. I try to keep extra separation from the cars in front to compensate for my longer stopping distance. In heavy traffic I always seem to get other cars that want to jump into the space between me and the car in front. It takes extra concentration to deal with that kind of traffic. Once I was on route US 1 known as the overseas highway as it crosses the keys, traffic was bumper to bumper heading back toward Miami. In my direction it was only a little bit better. Two weeks from know, I may be in similar traffic.
I arrived at the Curry Hammock State Park in Marathon shortly about 3:30PM. The campground has about thirty sites along the Atlantic side om Little Crawl Key. My site is not directly along the ocean. It’s on the other side of the loop, but only about 200 feet from the water. I’m looking forward to exploring the park tomorrow.
Between writing the 2nd paragraph above and this closing sentence, it has started to rain.
Today was my last full day at Collier-Seminole State Park. Tomorrow I move on another 170 miles or so to the Florida Keys. Other than my regular thrice daily walks, most of my activities today were focused on getting ready to travel.
My biggest preparation tasks was a grocery run. I suspect that grocery stores in the keys may be small and widely separated. After today’s trip to Walmart, I should be all set for the two weeks I’ll be there. It has been over twenty years since I visited the Keys, so I could be all wrong about the shopping. Either way, it’s better to be prepared than in need.
The weather tomorrow could be much better. A tropical depression is forming into a tropical storm just west of Cuba. Bands of thunderstorms associated with the system are already impacting south Florida. Most of the storms missed this area today, but tomorrow is likely to be different. The worst of the weather is heading into the Gulf of Mexico well to the west of the Florida peninsula, but I expect tomorrow’s travel to be a rainy mess.
I’m really still learning about hurricane seasons. I thought south Florida was safer late in October. It turns out this is the most likely time for storms to impact south Florida. Last month I was up in the panhandle of Florida during the peak vulnerability for that area. My guess is the only hurricane safe place is north of Georgia and west of the Appellation until the middle of November. Of course, some of that area is getting an early snow storm this weekend.
As I predicted the campground is almost full this weekend. This campground is located just the right distance from the Miami and Fort Lauderdale metro area for a weekend family outing. There are a lot of tents and small RVs in the park this weekend. Perfect size units for the occasional weekend camping outing. With the weekend campers come the bicycles, scooters, kayaks, and canoes. Saturday is a very busy day at the campground.
I was on the edge of my seat all day waiting for rain, but it never came. This is the second day in a row without rain. Once again it went by to the south and the north. I don’t know if this is the random nature of the weather pattern or my reading the forecast wrong, but I’m glad it didn’t rain. Tomorrow has a similar forecast. I hope it has a similar outcome.
I took several walks to the Backwater River today separated by one drive into Naples. I didn’t see much in the way of wildlife or wildflowers on most of my excursions. There was something about today’s weather conditions that kept the birds away from the area. I usually see several egrets and an ibis or two in the marsh. Today I didn’t see them on any of the walks to the area.
On my last walk to the Backwater River kayak and canoe launch of the day the native alligator made an appearance. As night approaches the gator will leave the confines of the mangroves in search of food. A couple of nights ago it came out in response to some splashing in the water. Tonight it took an interest in a white dog that was getting walked out on the floating docks. In both cases it was the same drill swim rapidly into the vicinity of the noise than hover in the water with just its head out of the water watching. The dog’s people realized the risk they were putting their dog in and retreated to shore. The gator watched them all the way.
The campground filled up steadily as the afternoon progressed. For the first time since I arrived almost two weeks ago I have neighbors on both sides and across the street. It looks like the campground will be close to full this weekend. Departing Sunday morning may be a real competition for the dumping station.
I woke up this morning to sunshine. It looked promising that the streak of three days of rain was broken. The sun hung around for two thirds of the daylight hours before clouds started moving in from the east. So far, the precipitation that goes with the clouds has missed this area to the north and south.
Today was laundry day. This park has a washer and dryer at each restroom building. They even take credit cards. In this day of coin shortages it is nice not to have that concern. The down side is the washers only have cold water connections. You can select a warm or hot setting on the machine, but you’ll still only get a cold water cycle. It’s not a big deal for most of my laundry. Three hours later I was on to my next chore.
Since I was in a household chores mood, I followed the laundry with a little vacuuming and general cleaning. The last couple of days of dishes also got washed and put away. Everything is clean, but the place still looks lived in (cluttered).
The campground is starting to fill up for the weekend. It has been a lot quieter around here this week than last. The last couple of nights the park has been particularly empty. This afternoon about a dozen new residents have arrived. I suspect the park will be near full this weekend like it was last week. Since this is an older park without a lot of separation between sites it gets crowded and noisy fast.