Since well before arriving in Key West, we had been trying to break up our time there with stays at the three state parks in the FL Keys that we either love or wanted to try out. It was, due to the hackers making a profit off of booking sites, very difficult to get anything at all. We had been quite lucky in snagging six days at Curry Hammock (though it was split between to reservations and thus required a move) followed immediately by a two day stay in Long Key.
Our time at Curry had threatened to knock Long Key down from second to third on our favorite Florida state park list, but a couple of days back here at Long Key reminded us how fantastic a place it is. Since it is only 12 miles up the road from Curry and on the same side (Atlantic) the beach and water are pretty similar: mostly sand, lots of washed up sea grass, a very shallow grade allowing one to wade out fairly far especially at low tide. The campground is bigger, and is arranged completely different. Whereas Curry Hammock has a single loop with no sites actually fronting the ocean, Long Key is set up as one long road with all the sites on the east/Atlantic side, and all sites are ocean front with views of the water.
Most of the spots are power and water, no sewage, but the water connection is very difficult to reach at some of the sites. Like at Oscar Scherer State Park, we had nowhere near enough hose to reach our connection point, located as it was through the wide green space practically in our neighbors spot. We had plenty of water in the tank for a two day stay, so it was not a big deal, but worth keeping in mind for when we come back; we need an extra length of hose, maybe even 50′ more, to be ready for some of the awkwardly positioned water connections we are bound to encounter during our travels.
We happened to be in Long Key on St Paddy’s Day, and after calling around we found that the Islamorada Moose Lodge, the only one of the five lodges in the FL Keys we had yet to visit, would be doing the traditional corned beef and cabbage meal. So we drove the 12 miles up the road to celebrate a bit with the other Irish-for-a-day members.
Considering that they are all part of the same organization, Moose lodges come in a surprisingly wide range of condition and ambiance. Some of them, like the Key West and Key Largo locations remind us of a dive bar: old buildings, a bit ramshackle, with a somewhat smoky bar area. We’re not knocking it, sometimes that is what we are in the mood for, just like we enjoy Alabama Jacks in Key Largo and Mac’s Club Duece in Miami Beach. Others, like our home chapter in Venice, are new or fully renovated buildings with a more modern look and feel, including a completely separate smoking area. Islamorada’s lodge definitely leans toward the latter end of the spectrum. What they usually have in common is very affordable drinks and food, so we were a bit surprised at the practically full priced drinks and meal there. I suspect they bumped up the prices quite a bit to pay for the recent major renovation. Regardless, its a nice place and we enjoyed the food, drinks, and friendly staff and patrons.
We had pretty good weather during out stay, allowing us to enjoy the crystal clear water during our afternoon swims and a nice sunset dropping behind the trees. We originally had three days reserved, but we decided to cut it to two in order to get back to Key West the day before the next on base craft show were we hoped to sell some more of Rosemarie’s jewelry. So we pulled chocks late Friday morning, dumped tanks and topped off water before heading the 70 miles back south for our last week or so in the FL Keys.
One last comment about the sites and reservations system at Long Key. Pretty much any campground other than boondocking areas will have maximum RV lengths measured out for their sites. These usually have a bit of a fudge factor, such that you can push it a couple of feet if needed. Long Key’s fudge factor is ridiculous; the site measurements seem to have no correlation to the actual space available. If I were to follow the max lengths listed on the Reserve America website, we could only fit in a handful of the 42 RV designated spots. In reality, I am pretty sure we could have fit in almost all of them, even the ones listed as only 20′. I saw several big rigs in spots supposedly that small. Next year I will keep that in mind when attempting to secure reservations.