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The Blue Hole on Big Pine Key

Alligator

The “Blue Hole” is a fresh water sink hole on Big Pine Key. The fresh water floats on sea water below it. During the last big hurricane, a bunch of small Tarpon got stranded in the “Hole.” They cannot get back to the ocean. They are living OK, but are undersized due to the uncongenial fresh water environment they are stuck with. The “Blue Hole” also hosts a coupe of small alligators, a 5 foot female and a 7 foot male. This is a picture of the female. She looks kind of blue here. She is actually green like most alligators.

While we were there she made a run at an iguana on a low branch, but he got away in a hurry. Everyone enjoyed this excursion a lot. I was surprised by how enthusiastic everyone was.

Also saw a Poisonwood Tree which freaked everyone out with its thoroughly bad reputation and nasty characteristics.


Bicycle Bar-hopping

Stop Two: Mangrove Mama's

Stop Two: Mangrove Mama’s

We found a new way to have fun. Now that there is a finished bike path from the northern end of Summerland Key all the way past us to the beginning of Sugarloaf Key we can hop on our bicycles and bar hop.
First stop: South 3 miles to the KOA Campground Bar
Second stop: Across the Overseas Highway to Mangrove Mama’s
Third stop: Back 3 miles north to our own Square Grouper
Fourth stop: Further north 3 miles to The Wharf Bar and Grill.
Then south again 3 miles back to Jolly Roger Drive.
The only thing you have to watch out for is when the bike path crosses the Highway. When this occurs you need to be VERY careful. However, we even had the traffic stop for us. That was kind of scary. Otherwise it is wait for an opening and make a dash for it!


2013 Kayak Trip

DSC_3010

This is very hard work.

The “Bionic Hips and Knees Kayak.” Not a team made in heaven. Look at the expression of the paddler in the back. He spent the rest of the week kicking the yellow kayak. We decided to switch front paddlers to avoid blood shed. Things got worse as the pairs were now man and wife. After counseling there was no permanent damage to the relationship.

We started and ended at the Niles Channel boat ramp on Summerland Key. The trip was abbreviated from the planned itinerary due to crew exhaustion and failure to paddle in a straight line.


Cudjoe Bike Trail

Bike Trail

New “Old State Road 4”

The Florida Keys Overseas Heritage Trail (FKOHT) is coming to Cudjoe Key. The “Old State Road 4” road bed, which was all overgrown and ripped up, first got graded and prepped for paving. Then it got paved. Very nice!

It now runs way past Blimp Road, all the way to where it will cross the highway around the Sheriff’s Substation. This is part of the Summerland Key to Sugarloaf Key trail section. All of it is under construction.

"Newer" Old State Road 4

Newer “Old State Road 4”

This makes the bike trip to the end of Blimp Road a very pleasant trip. No more branches in the face. The trip to the KOA Campground Bar and Mangrove Mama’s is also now a breeze. Who knows, maybe Sugarloaf Lodge and the Bat Tower will be on the Biking from Cudjoe short list.

I have no idea when it will be completed, but it shouldn’t be too long. I can’t find an updated schedule on the internet.

For more information about the Florida Keys Overseas Heritage Trail go to: http://fkoht.net/.


Dry Tortugas

Dry Tortugas

Arriving at the Dry Tortugas

This is a great trip! I am a little hesitant to recommend it because it is pretty expensive and we were so lucky with the weather and with hardly anyone else on the boat. We took the Yankee Freedom II, a fast catamaran that runs from Key West to the Dry Tortugas on a daily basis.

The trip was wonderful, but there were only a few people on the boat. It could really have been crowded and that would not have been as nice. Also, the weather was wonderful.

Dry Tortugas Seaplane
Getting There by Airplane

The arrival at the park is very impressive. The fort appears rise right out of the sea, probably because it does.

You can also get to the park by sea plane. This costs more, and you don’t get to stay as long, but I  bet it is a spectactular trip and arrival.

When you go by boat they provide a nice picnic lunch and you have plenty of time to frolic in the water (great snorkling, gear provided) and to tour the fort.

Fort Jefferson
Tour of Fort Jefferson

The fort is quite interesting. The Park Service guide gives a comprehensive explanation.

The top of the fort provides a nice view of the other islands that make up the park. These islands are home to a plethora of sea birds.

Trip Information:

http://www.nps.gov/drto/index.htm

http://www.yankeefreedom.com/key-west-reservations.htm

http://keywestseaplanecharters.com/


Lower Keys Shuttle (Bus)

Key West Transit
The Key West Transit Logo

If we have guests that want to do some different things and we don’t have enough cars for everyone to go their own way, we rely on the Key West Transit “Lower Keys Shuttle.”

This bus runs up and down the lower keys between Key West and Marathon.

It is very inexpensive and it has a great web site that shows where the buses currrently are and gives an updated time of arrival at your stop.

So, if somebody wants to go to Key West, and some one else wants to go to the beach at Bahia Honda, just tell them to take the Lower Keys Shuttle. Our stop is right up Cutthroat and a few yards to the right on the highway.

Shuttle Information:

http://www.kwtransit.com/


The Flats

The Flats

The water out on the flats

Of all the aspects of the Keys, the most striking is the natural splendor of the “flats.”

The varied sea bottoms are visible through the crystal clear waters and the sky is a fitting partner to the land and sea.

Great day out in the flats

Sky, water, bottom, and mangroves

The famous game fish of the keys, sharks, porpoises, rays, crabs, lobsters, sea turtles; can all be seen out in the flats.

The unspoiled nature of the flats is best appreciated in the protected waters of the Great White Heron National Wildlife Refuge. Cudjoe Key is located adjacent to the very center of this refuge.

Eagle Ray

An Eagle Ray next to the boat

Flats boat
Flats boat, fisherman, and guide

Refuge Information:

Great White Heron National Wildlife Refuge
28950 Watson Boulevard
Big Pine Key, Florida   33043
Email: keydeer@fws.gov 

http://www.fws.gov/nationalkeydeer/
greatwhiteheron/

http://www.stateparks.com/
great_white_heron.html