10,000 Islands then Down to Key West

Trip Start Mar 12, 2013
Trip End Mar 19, 2013

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Where I stayed
Andrews Inn and Garden Cottages Key West
Read my review - 5/5 stars

Flag of United States  , Florida
Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Happy Birthday Casey! Today, we had scheduled an 8:30 departure on the Marco Island Dolphin & Wildlife Tour.  Unfortunately, when I arranged the tour, I made the mistake of assuming the tour would also go out of the location near the Motel.  It does not.  It goes out of Goodland which is about a 40 minute drive away – in the opposite direction I wanted to travel that day.  My bad.  Contrary to the communicative and attentive service we received from Darlene on the sunset tour, we did not hear from our guide regarding this tour and sat waiting at the dock until just minutes prior to our departure time before he showed up.  He explained his tardiness that we were the first customers to show up on time or not show up at all in over a week.  Who would miss a pre-paid, non-refundable tour?  I think the guy was just up late and could not get started quickly on this cool morning.

The next thing I noted was that our guide was bundled like Nanook of the North (see picture). I think the guide should have bothered to call us and warn us that the weather on the water in his open speedboat would be cold.  Very cold.  Bring a couple of blankets and gloves cold.

Much to our surprise, our tour consisted of just two couples - Casey and I and a couple from Minnesota down in Florida looking for a summer place.  The land of 10,000 lakes meets the land of 10,000 islands.  The cycle is complete. Again, this was going to be more like a private tour for the price of a group tour. 

Setting the unusually cool weather aside, it was a great tour.  The guide was very knowledgeable about the several forms of wildlife that were out that morning.  We zigged and zagged among the islands and saw views that were just spectacular.  I didn't take too many pictures since my numbing fingers threatened to drop the camera.  We did see a juvenile Egret who had not yet left his nest atop a piling in the channel.  We also saw a Blue Heron walking the shore as Dolphin splashed the water trying to scare up a morning breakfast of fish.  Evidently, the Heron like to let the Dolphin stir up the fish and then they swoop in and steal a meal.  We also saw Frigatebirds with their awesome 7 foot wingspans. 

Also, we learned that Dolphin like to play in the wake of boats and we saw several of them chasing a boat heading out of the channel.  Some JetSkiers on a tour tried to play with them too. 

After the 2-hour tour, we jumped in the little red box and drove the 5 hours through the heart of the Everglades on Tamiami Trail and then down US-1 through all of the Florida Keys.  There are over 1,700 islands in the Florida Keys archipelago. Very few are populated.  Only 43 of the islands are connected via bridges. There are a total there are 42 bridges with the Seven Mile Bridge being the longest.

Based on a recommendation from our friends, we wanted to stay at the Andrews Inn.  Our stay was going to be several days and unfortunately, none of the Inn rooms had availability for the entire stay.  However, one of their cottages - the Eyebrow House - was available.  I decided to splurge a bit and enjoy the extra room of a full living room, dining room, complete kitchen and back deck with a Jetted Tub.  An additional surprise was our ability to use laundry facilities for free which really came in handy.

This attractive, well-manicured and neatly landscaped cottage is located very conveniently off Duval Street.  It is close to the action and centered between the two waterfront destinations.  The look and feel of the neighborhood made us feel that we were residents of this quaint and wonderful destination. 

Parking could have been a challenge since the cottages do not have reserved spaces.  However, the proprietor kindly reserved us a spot with his vehicle and after parking, we did not find a need to drive anywhere during our trip.  We walked everywhere which helped work off the great meals we enjoyed.  So I parked the little red box and we moved into the cottage for 6 nights of Key West fun. 

It was our first night there when a realization hit me that would have a lasting impact on our entire stay.  This was one of the many weeks which comprise the American College Tradition known as "Spring Break".  This event would be combined with the fact that the upcoming weekend was Saint Patrick’s Day!  Needless to say, our close proximity to “the action” would have consequences.  We were frequently awakened from 1:00-4:00 AM by loud voices and Harley Davidson choppers.  Oh, did I also forget to mention that it was also some kind of Motorcycle Event taking place too?

In any event, our first night involved a wonderfully affordable and delicious Cuban cuisine meal at the El Siboney which was then followed by a long soak in the heated, jetted tub on the back deck.
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My Review Of The Place I Stayed

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