Tomorrow we depart Key West after 43 days at the Naval Air Station’s campground. I think our longest RV stay before this was 15 days while we volunteered as lighthouse guides at Washington’s Cape Disappointment State Park. The verdict? We loved it! The price was ridiculously good for an in season site in The Keys, we were right on or within sight of the water for our entire stay, and Key West offers plenty of activities to keep away the boredom, while still allowing a laid back lifestyle. In short, we needed this slow down from our normal hectic RV pace, and plan on coming back next winter, perhaps for an even longer stay.
We loved our first year of RVing, the hectic pace allowing us to visit 88 places, but we understand that is not a speed we can keep up this year. Staying in one spot this long not only reduces the exhaustion of frequent travel, but also allowed us to partake in a wide variety of activities that were just not realistic with our “move every three days or less” schedule from 2015. So what did we do while here?
Ocean kayaking, and we don’t even own kayaks! Our neighbor from our first spot David, let me join him on a kayak jaunt in our first couple of days here, and then when they took a week off to fly back home they allowed us full use of their two lightweight open kayaks. We connected with Bob, a former kayak river guide, who arranged an evening event with a score of us putting in the boats at the base marina and paddling out to watch the famous Key West sunset from the water. We then turned around and watched the full moon rise as we headed back to shore.
We also had the opportunity to sail on another neighbor’s “Texas kayak.” His Hobiecat Mirage Tandem Island is a two person open kayak with a mirage drive pedal system, outriggers, and a sail. The owner, Jim, took us out for several hours one morning, during which we visited the chain of mangrove islands that act as a bird sanctuary a few miles off shore. During our outing we also collected up seven lobster trap buoys that had broken loose over the years, having become entangled in the mangrove roots. This is “found art” decoration that you see a lot of in Key West.
Arts & Crafts. Rosemarie attended a handful of gatherings in the base community center, learning the basics of Kumihimo, a braiding and beading jewelry making method. She also made coconut fish, a wind chime, and gathered supplies and knowledge for a few future projects. The community center schedule encourages all kinds of hobbies, with enthusiasts gathering to knit, wood carve, paint, crochet, and a few other things.
These other crafts did not distract Rose from her main art of traditional jewelry making, and we ended up selling her stuff at three craft shows on base. The first one resulted in limited sales, but allowed us determine what price point and styles were more popular here. This lead to a vastly better performance in the second and third show, the last one I had to do alone since Rose flew up to Virginia to spend time with her mom, aunts, and other relatives.
Social events. Short stays in RV parks do not lend themselves to meeting people and developing friendships, so it was a nice change to spend time in one spot long enough to do so. We gathered together for evening drinks, a chile night, unofficial craft gatherings when the community center was closed, a margarita party, and a Superbowl night hosted by the local American Legion outpost. We really look forward to seeing Judith & Mike, Michelle & Bob, Darlene& Steve, Sheryl & Kevin, Edie & Tina (and anyone I am forgetting) again next year.
Visit from friends: Racing around the country allowed us to visit a lot of family and friends last year, but no one was able to plan around our continuous moves and visit us. Stayin seven weeks in Key West was a lot more conducive to that, and the Nieves clan stayed a weekend with us about half way through our time here. We wish a few more of our South Florida based peeps could have joined us, but it is looking like a couple more might be swinging by while we are in the middle keys.
Sunsets, swimming, and snorkeling. Since we were parked right on the water, and crystal clear water at that, for most of our stay, it was pretty much impossible for me to resist frequent immersion. Watershoes for the rocky shore and goggles or a snorkel were all that was required to enjoy the near shore sea life, though it was pretty chilly; even in Key West its winter. We frequently joined the procession headed to the western shore, you know, the one right in front of our rig, for the traditional Key West sunset viewing, usually with cocktails in hand.
So that’s it, we are headed out tomorrow to begin our meandering journey through Florida and up the East Coast to Maine. Our first stop will be a four day stay at Curry Hammock State Park in Marathon Key. We do not yet have, however, reservations anywhere following that stay and before we plan on being in the Coral Spring area at the end of this month, so it is highly possible that we will simply return to Key West for another ten days should an opening in Bahia Honda State Park not open up. If so, we will try to work in a day trip to Dray Tortugas National Park, something we have not done despite o National Park fetish, due to the cost, and find another dozen or so Key West geocaches if we can find the time in our incredibly hectic retired lifestyle. We shall see.
One way or another we will be in the Florida Keys until March 25th or so, and we are open to meeting up with any other RVers in the area, or taking recommendations on things to do in middle or lower keys.