We learned a lot of new things over the course of our 10-day, 120-mile paddle. (If you’re just tuning in, we invite you to visit our previous Keys posts.) Today’s eureka:
#7: It’s possible to paddle in the shade.
The sun’s strong here. Luckily, mangrove forests are everywhere (but they’re tight quarters….just remember to take your paddle apart and maneuver with one half).
Short cut! Mangroves line more than 1,800 miles of shoreline within Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary.
The dense tangle of prop roots make the trees appear to be standing on stilts above the water. This tangle helps the trees handle the daily rise and fall of tides. Most mangroves get flooded at least twice per day.
The red mangrove produces a spear-shaped seed that is up to 10 inches long and will float until it implants into soil.
Seeking relief (ahem) on a black mangrove island
Or you can paddle in the shadows of the Long Key Viaduct (1907) and modern-day Long Key Bridge.
The Long Key Viaduct was part of Henry Flagler’s Overseas Railroad; today, it’s a bike and pedestrian path/fishing pier
Long Key Bridge was built to replace the Long Key Viaduct (1907), which still stands parallel to the bridge.
Sometimes you just have to make your own shade. (2G3K Gear Recommendation: the versatile UV Buff)…
Jean, is that you?
Hen at SPF 1,000
…Or you can simply take advantage of passing clouds.
Next up: Wildlife takes vacations too. 🙂
Continuing Ed on 10 Things We Learned while paddling from Key Largo to Key West. (Crib notes here: Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3) 🙂
#5: The Keys are an ancient coral reef…
#6: …and quirky as hell.
Beer-and-babes motorboat vs. kayaking nature nerds
Early in the trip, we took a short cut (literally) from oceanside to Florida Bay—the tides of which don’t correspond, by the way. (A geographical quirk!) Paddling through Adams Cut, a manmade residential canal, we glimpsed Key Largo in cross-section: its deep coral foundation.
Fossilized coral is rock hard. You need tent stakes as long as your forearm.
An iguana poses for Hen on his front porch
Dinosaur-like iguana, ancient coral-reef home foundation
We pitched our tents in a number of RV (“recreational vehicle”) campgrounds. Nice word for “trailer parks.” For us geeks, this was a whole new world of massive rolling castles and snowbirding nomads. Hmm, and you thought NYC was quirky…
On closer inspection, this tent was actually a barn for…(look beyond it, to the right…)
Lucy, the miniature horse. Now that’s pet-friendly!
Adams Cut: cross section of coral foundation
Fossil-fuel burners among the fossils
Lots of property for sale as the sea level rises
Our tents among the RVs
Monthly rent around $2500 includes electricity and water
Jack, Rick and Alex (headlamp) do the dishes at RV campground
It is wonderful to do your laundry after days on the “road”
Picnic Key. The name says it all.
Sunny afternoon on Picnic Key
Another day, another dozen miles paddling from Key Largo to West. Of the things we learned here, this one was immediately obvious.
#4: The water is a gorgeous color. And so is everything else.
Photos above: Pelican’s eye view of Indian Key. Bill and Jack approach Long Key. Colorful character Hen. Storm clearing over Rock Harbor. Debra and unusual kayak storage. Arrival at Geiger Key to set up camp. Betsy takes a break near Indian Key. Angels over Curry Hammock State Park.
Green water, lavender sky
Jack and Rick
Popps Motel in Rock Harbor
Leaving Rock Harbor
Rick in a sunny moment
Colorful yaks at campsite
Tent platforms at Long Key State Park
Arriving at Sugarloaf Key
House in Key West
Part 1 is here. As well as the previous post in our Keys-y series. 🙂
Kayakers are “cloudspotters.” Ordinarily, gazing up at the heavens gives us our weather report. But this Florida Keys sunset took our breath away. Virga—wispy ice crystals falling through high winds, in the lower right of the frame—predict deterioration of the weather. (Got that right! More on our recent 110-mile paddle from Key Largo to Key West coming up…) Another classic case of clouds imitating art: This exhibit ranged from Albrecht Durer’s grey “Winged Man Playing a Lute” to Chagall’s fiery “Sarah and the Angels” and back again. 🙂