The airplane landed at 5:30 am and we were told to go to baggage claim on level one – J5. We grabbed our bag and were on the shuttle heading towards the car rental on level 4 at 6:00 am. Instead of a military discount we got upgraded from some compact economy car to a silver Chrysler 200C convertible parked in spot 29C on level 2. The mustang next to it was tempting, but there is someone at the gate to make sure you grabbed the right car.
Caleb has us on the roads of Miami driving away from the sun. We are looking for Dick’s Sporting Goods that doesn’t open until 9:00. We will have sandwiches at the Corner Bakery Café and get our grocery shopping done at Publix – junk food, water, and PBJs – by 8:20. We sit in the car and read while we wait. We purchased a gas can for cooking food in out Jetboil as soon as the store opened.
We take the toll road to Hwy 1 South that will take us through The Keys to Mile Marker Zero with no sightings of crocodiles or Key Deer, just lots of construction. We stop at Wahoo’s – a place we stopped at last time to get a picture of the sunrise. The view is different this time, but the emotions are just as happy – we are in a convertible on a Monday morning driving on one of the Top Ten scenic drives in the U.S.
We average 45 mph and spend the morning driving the 161 miles from the airport to Mile Marker Zero. Once in Key West I park us on Eaton Street and we walk around to the Oldest Schoolhouse out here, Mallory Square (popular for sunset) where we see some Buddhists, and the Historical Military Memorial. After trying Naked Turtle rum with lime at El Meson de Pepe we walk to the end of the boardwalk to find where we will be leaving from in the morning – the Key West Bight Ferry Terminal.
On our way to dinner at BurgerFi, a restaurant only two months old in Key West, we stop at the Fort Jefferson Museum which has a large model inside of the fort as it appeared in 1846 along with historical information and photos. When we’re done with that we make our way to Duval Street. We each order a quinoa burger and Cajun fries to share. As if that wasn’t enough Caleb thinks we need a key lime pie concrete – vanilla custard and pie. I agree and we eat it while we watch the bartender and owner take inventory of the alcohol.
I’m so full my stomach hurts. I get to walk some of it off on the way back to the car as we pass a Cuban cigar shop and a bakery that makes cakes look like burgers. Then we drive to the airport to gauge how much time Caleb will need after dropping me and the bags off to deliver the rental car and meet me at the pier on foot before the catamaran leaves at 7 or 8 in the morning. With the lack of sleep and a meal coma coming on I’m ready for the tent.
Tonight’s campsite will be on Sigsbee Park, a military installation, and right on the water – with chance of flooding. The trees will block most of the sunset, but we will have the next few days unobstructed. The site cost us $13 and 20 minutes worth of questioning – but it’s worth it – the camp host gives us each a chocolate cake pop. Time to put my feet on seagrass and coral and then my head on a pillow. Tomorrow’s excitement will come early.