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Started by Onslow, July 09, 2016, 21:01:10 PM
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During the deepest and darkest days of this past Winter, Summer vacation planning had commenced. During the course of the planning, I had become rather frustrated with the prices of lodging for the Outer Banks of NC during peak season, and starting thinking less conventionally setting my sights of Florida for Summer fun.
I settled in to harass the folk at Big Pine Key Fishing Lodge for a room, and after some cajoling, I managed to find a slot just before the very crowded Spiny Lobster season started. During the trip down, I teased the wife about having to spend time amongst a crowd of smelly surly fisherman...I had no idea what to expect. Upon arriving, it was quickly apparent these folks at BPKFL had a friggin clue; the grounds were void of any trash, the buildings were spotless inside and out, there was a large open shelter with an arcade/pool/ping pong room to keep the kids happy, the gravel drives were groomed almost daily, sidewalks and porches washed every day, and food/clothing provisions were conveniently located at the lodge office. Oh, forgot to mention there were boats that could be rented, boat ramp, slips, cleaning tables.....on and on.... I was also struck that the grounds keepers were not illegals! Sadly I may not have a spot next year. These folks don't gouge, and they do not take reservations more than 12 months in advance. 95% of the patrons are Floridians which I found to be most friendly, and classy. These were not paternalistic lowlanders plantation owner wannabes, but serious hardworking fisherman who were moderately resourced, but did not have a stuck up bone in them.
Now a brief summary about the Keys. First off, they are not consisted of sand, but rather ancient coral beds. Unlike the Outer Banks of NC, I suspect the majority of vacationers in the Keys spend their time in pull behind rec vehicles, not the ridiculous ostentatious homes such as those that line the beaches of NC. Most of the luxury homes are hidden in palms. Most of the Keys appear to be rather old school looking, comparable to Ocracoke or perhaps Hatteras Village. Big Pine Key is rather undeveloped in terms of residential development. Even Largo didn't seem to be a cluster. Surprisingly, there is a Home Depot in Key West and Marathon Key. As one nears Key West below Big Pine, gradual gentrification is noticeable. North Key West is a typical suburb, while the lower is historic, full of mystic, and very seductive.
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The first full day of our escapade was spent in Key West.
We had plenty of company
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This is the Audubon house. Most of the nicer homes had landscapes comparable to this.
Quite a few bars and eateries are open air in the Keys. Some have thatched roofs. It's called natural air, bitches. Country club folks and whiners can just fuck off. I drank much Lime ade
Free poultry everywhere. Holy shit, there are probably more chickens than residents! Mornings are filled with the sounds of roosters celebrating the rising of the sun. It is not uncommon to see a hen with seven chicks cross the road in the early AM!
But conch was consumed instead.
This cat built the house KW house.
The polydactyl cats are still there, however.
Short stories were written here.
The grounds of the house were spacious and full of wonderful flowerage.
Hope you all enjoyed. KW is expansive with much see and experience. Will add content tomorrow.
Rockin'. Good on ya, Ken!
I like key west, never went there for fishing it was all sex drugs and rock n roll!
You tha man ken
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Snorkeling is an activity that I had been wanting to do since childhood. Messed around Bahia Honda SP the first evening and befriended a few Barracuda. These fish are very curious and appear to be very intelligent. Many other species are in the shallows such as Schoolmaster Snapper. No camera the first evening. Worked up enough nerve on the second to carry a camera in my trunks for an 1.5 hours....and no, this is not a guided trip. No schedule was going to be adhered to except mine! The outer corals is where the money is, tho.These pics are at the 'beach'.
This is the northern end of Bahia Honda inlet. Tides rip through here, and stir up adjacent waters. This is also the Tarpon capitol of the US, if not the world. No one seems to give two shits about Tarpon, however, including me.
Found a conch the first evening that measured 17" in length, and was about 9 inches in diameter. This one was about 15"
Touching coral is prohibited. It takes quite a bit of effort not to mess things up in this paradise.
That was great. You have some memories. Thanks!
There are only two places on earth where Key Deer exist; Key West, and Big Pine Key. Fresh water is obviously a critical necessity for their survival. Big Pine has the most fresh water of any Key. It is also the least developed, and home to the National Key Deer Refuge. Big Pine Key Lodge property adjoins a portion of the refuge, and when the light is dim, the deer pour out.
Note the buck in the background
I tried for quite some time to approach this fine buck.
Look at Ken, doing the snorkel thing
Thanks for the travelogue and pics. Were y'all camping there in a tent or an RV? How long did it take to drive there? Did you catch any fish?
RV camping is the best way to secure a place to stay, it appears. We booked a room at the lodge.
13.5 hour drive from Elkin. US 1 on islands wasn't bad. Some congestion on the 4th.
Fishing? I didn't fish. I had planned to fish the mangroves on the gulf side, but said fuggit. Kids caught nurse sharks and barracuda from the banks. Cleaning tables stayed hot. Summer rains turn on the Snook and Tarpon. It was very dry during the visit. Generous creel limits for Mahi, and they are close. Plan to get on a head boat for Mahi next year to fill a cooler. This place gets crazy during the Spiny lobster season. I should have take pics of the cages along the rd.
What Lodge? your abbreviations aren't digestable
For those who want to kick it up a notch, I would suggest camping on the Dry Tortugas National Park.
Day trips are also available. I briefly considered visiting this place during the planning phase of the trip but declined due to cost. Upon arriving, my wife brought it up, and we decided go for it. Since we did not have reservations, we were placed on a waiting list. Unfortunately, there weren't any no shows. This place has become our white whale. Will try again next year, I hope.
Another fact about camping in the Keys...no bugs or flies.
Day hiking at Portsmouth Island NC on the other hand was the most miserable sheep fly, horn fly, mosquito nightmare I've had the pleasure to experience.
I'm seeing a lot of white x's, but sounds like an awesome trip. That's a place I want to go in the future for sure.
Good stuff! I've always wanted to go down there sometime.