Sunday, March 24, 2013

Bahia Honda State Park, Florida

Sandspur Beach
This year our RV took us to Bahia Honda State Park…a strip of a park in the Florida Keys.
We spend our time biking the parks roads and walking the beaches, swimming, and kayaking and watching the sunset. Days can go by really quickly here. ….with lots of road noise. I am easily distracted from the road noise that is prevalent in the park by the blue water and fine weather

View From Old Bridge


There is a concession in the park where one could eat if they are desperate with no healthy food present and a gift shop as well. Wifi is in this area as well. The bottonwood bathhouse is adequate. Sites are spaced well enough. 

The park also offers snorkeling trips when it is not too windy.  Make sure you book when the water is pretty flat or underwater visibility will be reduced.  They rent kayaks. There are three beaches to choose from.  There are a variety of activities to keep you busy here:  fishing with license, kayaking, swimming, snorkeling, windsurfing, sailboarding.  Take a walk up on the old Bahia bridge to see if you can spot some sharks, sea turtles, baracudas or rays.

There are three different campgrounds here.  Buttonwood which is for rv's and has a bathhouse facility and dump station.  Campsites have electric and water.  Sandspur is for tents or pop ups only and some sites do have electric.  Bayside Camping has sites for tents only and low vehicle heights of 6'8".  Bayside also has cabins that you can rent via for $130+ per night.
They are right on the water (old quarry).  You can fish in this quarry (no boats, swimming or snorkeling).  You can fish see a variety of young fish swimming around the edge of the quarry.

Weekends bring the Big Pine Flea Market where you can buy produce and all types of flea market products…mostly Florida beach themed. Key West is something you should do once (maybe just once) and that is 60 miles and 1.5 hours away (a slow drive)…just don’t do it on weekend if you can help it (traffic).

Snorkel boats go out of Marathon and that was fun to do. They took us to Sombrero Reef which just off shore. Reasonably priced places to eat: Big Pine Restaurant in Big Pine, Marathon: Keys Fisheries (get there early and this is a place your order and pick it up place/go sit to eat), Upper Crust Pizza (across from the community park in Marathon).

You are lucky if you can secure a campsite at Bahia Honda State park.  They are hard to get. 

Other options for camping in the Florida Keys are:  Jolly Roger Travel Park, Knights Key, Siesta Key, among others.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Jolly Roger Travel Park, Florida

We chose this RV park because it was close to Marathon and they take (at this
writing) Passport America…we are a lifetime member.  It is a small park and the
owners take pride in their park. They are quite good at squeezing any size RV
into the spaces they provide.

It is waterfront Rv Park and has a nice little place to swim (bring your noodle)
and you can also snorkel near the rocks. New this year is a swimming pool and
they added more sites. There is a line of washers/dryers for your use (not just
one or two like some state parks). The showers are a bit annoying but water
conserving. It is a pull string type thing with a preset temperature (which was
okay). Ants invaded our trailer here (in a big way) so be aware and bring
Terro and a spray for the outside or try putting a ring of baby powder around your tires or contact areas.

Bicycling….The bike path is 1.5 miles south of this RV park. If you can put up
with about 1.5 miles of biking on the road (use the northbound side because it
has a wider shoulder!!!) you will then have the bike path to take you down to
pigeon key 32 miles round trip.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Everglades National Park/Flamingo

Panoramic view of Everglades National Park

Snake Bite Trail - view of Florida Bay

I have wanted to take our RV to Everglades National Park for a long time…have been past the entrance numerous times while in Florida. So this time we found a two day window and drove our RV down there.

Be prepared for a LONG ride into Flamingo from the main road…from 9336 and 997 it is about 45 miles on a two lane…very uneventful. Route 41/Tamiami Trail is more eventful because at least you can see gator. I was surprised/shocked to see a visitors center/Pink at the end of the road just before the campgrounds AND a café. I expected after all that drive to have just a small parking lot for boat launching….no large parking lot AND café and small marina.

Panoramic view of Everglades coastal prairie

Mahogony Trail

The campground at flamingo is rather large with roughly 200 campsites in total. We had selected the relatively new area with electric (at $30 rather steep for no water at site). Our block of restrooms had no hot water in the showers (!!!!!) but for some reason they thought the tenting section needed hot water….so guess where we went. The facilities in Everglades National Park are “tired” and the bathrooms are no exception.


For $80 (under 62 years old) you can get one year’s worth of free entrance to all national parks (and other fed places of interest); if you are over 62 you can have that same yearly entrance for a thrifty $10.

Do stop at “Robert is Here”, a produce stand” (no kidding that is the name) …it is on 9336 on the way into Flamingo (west of route 1). It is a happening place and you cannot miss it as the name is in huge letters on the roof. Make sure you get either a smoothie or a fruit milkshake; I can vouch that the strawberry milkshake and key lime milkshakes are fabulous!

Gators at rest/Anhinga Trail

We explored the nature trails closest to the campground via bicycle and found the following: Christian Bend Trail appeared to be little used and thus overgrown. We walked about a mile in on a single track trail and then it began to get narrower…too narrow and we turned around. Rowdy Bend Trail…we didn’t even walk in but judged by the entry.
Snake Bite Trail was our ticket 1.8 miles one way AND the great part was we could bike
All the way. I have a foot issue and biking is my solution. It was dappled light the whole way and a boardwalk at the end in the sun with views of the Florida Bay. Nice!

Yet to be named butterfly

We spent two nights in Everglades National Park. We headed out early the day we left
aiming to see the nature trails we could not reach by bike on the way. So we walked all the little .4 mile trails: West Lake, Mahogany Hammock, Pa-hay-okee, Pinelands, and Gumbo Limbo and .8 mile Anhinga Trail. You want to see gators up close? Walk the Anhinga trail.

All in all, we enjoyed our brief stay but probably won’t make that trip again. If I was an avid canoer or kayaker, I probably would….as long as the bugs were not bad. We were there during early March (a cold spell) so the bugs were not an issue for us…to my amazement (lucky us).