The next day we decided to drive down to Key West and see how far we could get. So into the car we got, early in the morning, after our café Cubanos (yum!), we hit the road.
At mile marker 93.6 at Tavernier we saw the Wild Bird Center, were curious and stopped for a tour.
It turns out that the WBC works with a surgical center in Marathon Key to rescue sick and injured birds, and rest and cure them for return to the wild if possible. Many of the “ambulatory” (or maybe that should be “wingulatory”) birds roam free, such as pelicans, and others who are worse off are caged in huge enclosures.
We were able to enter some of the large cages and see the less severely injured and friendlier birds, like pelicans. We were told about raptors being treated, like owls and hawks, but were not allowed to see them as they were not to be disturbed.
Sean and I wandered around the grounds and found lovely a dog cemetery for the center’s former pets and a really neat pristine little beach. We left a donation for the good work being done there before we left.
We would not have made it very far on this section of Route 1…
We continued with our drive on Route 1, a.k.a. the overseas highway, but only made it as far as Marathon Key, since we had spent so much time at the WBC.
We thought that we could drive there and back in one day since it was only 120 miles, but there is traffic at every island, er, key as well as things to do and see. And it got dark outside. So we stopped to have dinner at a fish place that had disposable plastic tablecloths. Sean had red snapper and I had tuna. We were both very impressed by the freshness of our fish and had a wonderful meal. Sean drove us back to the Hungry Pelican.
The next morning, I took my new wet suit for a test drive off the Pelican’s dock. The motel’s owner was cheering me on. Did I mention that it was a dive oriented Motel?
“You go girl! I told you you’d get into that water yet!” he cheered.
I did and man that water was fucking cold! I was so glad I bought a wet suit. I had my snorkel and fins on and paddled around the dock to see what I could. I could see some crabs and shy fish schooling, but that was all. I swam out a ways, but the larger fish seemed to elude me. It was like a tease. So, I came back to the dock and got out of the water. Tomorrow was our planned dive. I would rest until then. I managed to squirm and wriggle out of my wet suit, always a chore, and rinsed it and my other gear with a hose and hung it outside to dry.
Sean and I decided to take the Motel’s canoe and paddle out into the bay to look at the partially submerged wreck that was just visible from our dock. It turned out to be a tug boat and there were so many fish around it; we were amazed. We wished we had brought our snorkel gear. We hung around out there for a while, seeing what we could and then decided to check out the canals of Key Largo since that was where the manatees went. Maybe we would see one again there.
The canals were peaceful and beautiful. Most had houses and boats on both sides landscaped with tropical trees and shrubs that I just love. We also noticed lots of rental and for sale signs. So we began to talk about bringing our 36 foot motor boat (subject of another post – I promise) down and living on it part of the year and renting it out the rest of the year. The weather was gorgeous and we were alone together, peacefully paddling, dreaming of our happy future together; our own private bliss. We didn’t miss not seeing the manatee.
That evening, we found a sushi restaurant, Sushi Nami, within walking distance of the Hungry Pelican. Service was slow, but the fish was fresh and fabulous. I love eating sushi. I start with green tea. How civilized is that? Then I usually have miso or clear soup. Since I was recovering from sinusitis, hot fluids really were just what the doctor ordered. Then I will order what ever the sushi chef recommends as fresh (though I do not like octopus). The only cooked sushi I eat is unagi (freshwater eel), but I prefer anago (saltwater eel), because they cannot give you parasites. We ate there whenever we could.
Then, we would cross the street to the Baskins-Robbins 31 and get ice cream cones for desert. My favorite flavor was jamoca® almond fudge. Ah, vacation; the only way to live.
Stay tuned for the next post, when I will snorkel Key Largo!