Sunday, February 28, 2016

The Full-Frontal Keys Experience

Because of the offshore reefs, Florida Keys beaches have little surf.  Here on Anne's Beach, a toddler inspects the one-inch breakers

"Key West or Bust" - Day 131

I'm talking about natural, not cultural.  I expect I'll have to wait for Key West for the latter.  But I'm more a nature kinda guy.  Well, I like monuments to human achievement too - things that have stood the test of time.  I got my first solid exposure to Henry Flagler's Folly - the miles and miles of Overseas Railroad bridges bringing land transportation to Key West, which he completed in 1912.  Here's the two-mile Long Key Viaduct.

The railroad route was converted to an automobile road in the 1930's, and served as the route of US 1 until the early 1980's.  Some of this has now been converted to a bike path and fishing pier.

Other parts have not been converted.  Here's a section that the birds have taken over.  When I last visited the Keys on a Christmas Break driving trip back in the late 1960's I drove this old bridge.

The Keys don't have a lot of long beach strands.   Sea Oats Beach on Lower Matecumbe Key is one of them.

Anne's beach, shown in the headline photo, is the more common situation - pockets of coral sand protected by mangroves.  The great thing about Anne's beach is that it has a quarter-mile boardwalk beside the water connecting two paved parking areas.  It is one of the few places where I could get off the bike path.

Other stuff today in the nature department included my introduction to this tropical shrub, the Florida Keys Blackbead, Pithecellobium keyense.

The curly seed pods (Pithecellobium translates to 'monkey's earring') hold a colorful surprise.

For me there's nothing like the super-fragrant Plumeria to give me that tropical vibe.  They're everywhere in Hawaii--a common flower used in leis--not so common here.

Finally, crossing the boundary between nature and culture, is this manatee mailbox.

The 'Force' was strongest on Lower Matecumbe Key where the ocean side was lined with nice waterfront homes that provided me with frequent glimpses of the glistening Atlantic Ocean.  Weather was comfortably cool with wall-to-wall sunshine.  It was the Keys experience I had been hoping for.

Here's a map of the route hiked today, with links to more photos.

Islamorada at EveryTrail
EveryTrail - Find the best hikes in California and beyond

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