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Marathon, FL and the Florida Keys

A little checking around quickly told me that I was about to miss a window of opportunity if I didn’t move fast. Florida is a major haven for snowbirds (people running away from Northern winters) from December through April. They know it and cater to snowbirds while also adjusting prices for RV parks according to the season. My best chance to see the Keys was now before December 1st when prices double. EEK! No way am I going to pay $60-80 a night for a piece of ground to park my trailer on. The state parks don’t change their prices but that is why they are usually booked up a year in advance for the season. I did check them and found 1-3 days available here and there in them but since the Keys are so long and have so much to do, that is not nearly enough time for a visit.

The drive out through the Keys on the Overland Parkway is lots of fun. The speed limits are low but the water and scenery are so beautiful who cares. It is very surprising to see so many well known stores, restaurants, and even schools out there in an area so well known to be hit by hurricanes and only 3 feet above sea level. All the fast food joints are there as well as the usual grocery stores and pharmacies. Even the fancier restaurants are there. Be careful of your speed. It is strictly enforced there, particularly near the deer preserve.

Overland parkway

I got lucky once again and found a Passport America park in Marathon, FL on Grassy Key, Jolly Roger Travel Park. I got 5 days at the discount rate and paid for 2 more at the off-season rate to get a whole week to explore. The PA section is close to the road with lots of noise of course but I didn’t mind. I had no problem sleeping there despite the noise. No pool or clubhouse but it is very nice looking and has a great view. If you want to swim with dolphins, the Dolphin Research Center is very close (very expensive too).

Jolly RogerHome in the Keys

The Florida Keys have something for everyone and so many activities that you would have to go there several times to get it all in. Everybody of all ages goes snorkeling there. There’s parasailing, windsurfing, waverunners, boating, fishing, kayaking, canoeing, swimming, shopping, tourist tours among the numerous museums and Fort Taylor, a glass bottom boat out to the reef, riding scooters, geocaching, the Key West night life, great food at local restaurants, lounging on the beach, and much more. Everyone’s favorite seems to be gathering at the local docks and seawalls at sunset to watch the sun sink into the water. It is a spectacular sight. The gathering reminds me of the angels gathering to watch in the movie, “The City of Angels”. If you get lucky, you might catch a local festival as well.


Many famous people have made Key West their home such as Jimmy Buffet, Ernest Hemingway, Tennessee Williams, President Harry S. Truman, and Oprah Winfrey.

I spent 2 days in Key West. The traffic and parking are pretty bad so many people rent scooters or electric cars to get around. There is very little handicapped parking but you can park with your handicapped tag displayed at any parking meter for free. I went to the southernmost point in the US which is actually closer to Cuba than the US mainland. I had to get my tourist photo like everyone else. LOL I also saw the southernmost beach, President Truman’s Little Whitehouse, Ernest Hemingway’s home, Fort Taylor, Mel Fisher’s Maritime Museum where the gold and artifacts found in the wreck of the Atocha are on display, the Shipwreck Museum to learn about wreckers and how shipwrecks shaped life in the Keys, the Pirate Museum with a real pirate treasure chest, pirate flag, Blackbeard’s bowl and more, the World Famous Conch Train Tour, Elvis, sea sponges, and I shopped till I dropped. In other words, I had fun! I topped it off with a stumble into the Sunset Festival by accident one evening with lots of street performers and a couple of dolphins who decided to show up nearby. I only wish I had more time there so I could have gotten my passport stamped by the Conch Republic. Once upon a time for a minute or two not that long ago, the Florida Keys seceded from the union over a government blockade and became the Conch Republic which is still a valid country and issues its own passports thus gaining citizens dual citizenship.

Scooter rentalsSouthernmost pointBeachFort Taylor

Gold barsDubloonsShipwreck MuseumConch Train Tour

I only scratched the surface in just one week in the Keys and look forward to getting back there someday. While there I did get a couple of new gadgets for my trailer. I bought a small battery operated tiki fountain with a candle in the top of the tiki and water flowing out of its mouth. The sound of the water is soothing. Far more practical, I found a solar powered string of LED lights which now line the patio or my trailer at campgrounds. It turns on automatically at dusk, and lasts most of the night. The next day it recharges in the sun. No electricity hookup needed which makes many parks very happy. I also bought my first fleece sweatshirt since I found myself far from my car with the temperature dropping one night in Key West. It isn’t too hot like I thought it would be and hey it only cost $5 like many of the tshirts and other clothes there. 😉

For more pics click here.

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