We hit the keys around 3pm but still had 2 hours of driving to reach key west. It was quite amazing driving along the highway 1 which is really like bridge after bridge over some of the most aqua water I have ever seen. The keys are several small islands that are joined by bridges which were built by the government to reduce the smuggling of drugs and presence of pirates back in 1938. Particularly spectacular was the seven mile bridge which felt like we were floating on the ocean. We drove into Key West which is known as a super alternative town as it is closer to Cuba than it is to the rest of the US and at one point actually declared war on the US and their independence from the country calling themselves the "conch republic"
. It was all an act in 1982 as a rebuttal to the US border patrol putting up a roadblock to the islands in an effort to staunch the flow of dugs and immigrants, but the block greatly affected the islands economy. The Conch republic immediately surrended after declaring war but demanded a billion dollars in foreign aid...hahaha it did the trick...the roadblocks were taken down immediately. We knew it was alternative when the first sign we saw was"happy hour 3.13-7.01pm". First person - a guy busking on the side of the street with his dog sitting next to him wearing sunglasses. Next was a man dressed to the nines as a woman. Definitely an interesting place! We got convinced to an early morning special of 30% off jetskiing for the following morning and then wandered the strip. We had some conch fritters for dinner which are deep fried balls of conch meat (from a conch shell) - super healthy! Hahhaa not but they are very tasty!! We then topped it off by sharing a slice of key lime pie from one of the two premier key lime pie producers....omg it was good!! We walked past one bar which has $60,000 worth of $1 bills stapled to the walls. Crazy!
The sun was setting so we thought we better get moving to our campsite. By the time we got there it was dark so we quickly set up the tent and got ready for bed. Finally a hot night rather than snow when we are camping!!! It was so hot that we tied the fly up and looked at the stars as we fell asleep...nice!
We were up early and off to go jet skiing
. I was very excited as I had never been before. We decided to take the camera in the waterproof housing bag providing that we checked the seal multiple times and didn't actually put it under water. We started off with Phin driving and checked out the nice key west properties before zooming around to near the naval base. We had a rest on the sand bar and watched the fighter jets fly past on practice drills. My turn! Of course we swapped just as it got seriously choppy! But it didn't matter...I just bounded over the waves and made Phin very wet!!! It was so much fun!!! Definitely buying a jetski when I win lotto!!!! We made it to the lowest point of the US and watched the coast guard drive by multiple times. We swapped again and drove past both Madonna and the Hiltons holiday place on a secluded island off Key West. We then had some play time and both took the reigns at flooring it, sharp turns and freaking out whoever was on the back! After two hours we docked back at the sand. It was so much fun! I am really glad we did it! A real highlight of the trip!!
We popped in to town for a final look and a coffee and then went back to the campsite to pack up the tent and hit the road. My final impression of Key West people was a guy who looked like a biker on his top half and boots...but was wearing a tutu...weird! We felt it necessary to sample the opposing companies key lime pie...so we made a detour to their store. The lady was lovely and gave us a great lunch recommendation
. We were just going to share a piece but she suggested we should try the key lime pie slice that is dipped in chocolate and put on a stick like an ice cream. Phenomenal is all I can say. I think this was probably the best thing I have ever eaten in my life. It was amazing....I think you get the picture. Hahaha we stopped at her lunch suggestion and shared the tuna steak sandwich which was pretty good too!!
On the road again and we had a six hour drive...eventually arriving in Melbourne, Florida, a suburb not far from the Kennedy Space Centre at Cape Canaveral. We checked in to the cheapest motel we could find and enjoyed our Campbell soup from the 7/11. Having done some maths on the road trip, we have discovered it's time for serious budget cuts!
June 3 Update
Lisa: The road trip continues..Florida keys here we come!!! Key lime pie and camping by the beach!!
Phin: "Key lime pie, conch fritters & jet ski tomorrow all the way to Cuba!"
June 4 Update
Lisa: Morning jet ski around the Florida keys..best fun ever!!
Phin: "Mmmm keys.... Florida keys!!!!
Key ski was amazing, took it to the southern most part of the us, around the boarder control boats and under the hovering harrier jets!"
"Don't actually know where I am...in a motel... Kenedy space centre tomorrow!!! Woohoo!"
We packed the car and hit the road for the Florida keys. We had a couple of stops on the way to check out some architecture sights...a bright pink house and two hotels, one of which had a hole in the middle with a bright red staircase. We also got some pizza for lunch...really not helping the diet but everyone at the hostel had raved about it and we walked pass the place multiple times everyday!!