After leaving Sanibel Island we â€œwaitedâ€ two days in Disney because of a weather forecast which promised dry weather so we would not run into drenching rain while in the parks (did that once in Anaheim – and that is not so fun). Today we left Disney, after having a really good time there (plus the promised sunshine 🙂 ), and have just arrived in Panama City.
Our visit to the Everglades National Park (also known as mosquito central) was reduced to a visit to the Everglades Alligator Farm (not the National Park) and a short drive into the National Park.
The alligator farm is not a zoo, but a working farm where they raise alligators for the meat, and cash in on tourists by having a few shows and air boat rides.
Driving from Miami to Key West is south on Highway 1, the only road down over the keys. The drive down over all the keys (islands) is very special, and the water looks like something which you just have to swim in. Once there was a train to Key West, but in a big hurricane it was damaged beyond repair. Unfortunately the old train bridges are just sitting there collecting rust â€“ only some parts are maintained as a historical site – and the power lines have been put on poles just next to the road, so the view is not as nice as it could be.
We came to Key West (well, one island away) in the afternoon and we just sat there in the breeze, enjoying the view and the air, before we went to bed (the WiFi was unfortunately based on a satellite connection, and satellite uplinks are really slow and with the slow server I have for the pages it was almost impossible to actually update the blog).
Since Biscayne National Park is just south of Miami we could stay at the same campground for both Biscayne and Miami. It is a state park campground in an avocado plantation â€“ Iâ€™ve never seen an avocado tree before and when we drove in we were not sure what kind of green â€œfruitsâ€ there were on the trees! Anyway, the campground is just 15 miles south of Miami and very nice â€“ my only complaints, besides some mosquitoes, would be that the water in the showers was too hot and could not be adjusted, and that the avocados were not ripe. Life is tough!
Weâ€™ve now driven about 9,500 miles (15.200 km) and our mileage estimate is only about 250 miles (400 km) off. Our fuel economy is 16 MPG in average (6,7 km/L or 14,8 L/100km) â€“ which is about 20% better than expected and will save us about $750.
We arrived at Sanibel Island yesterday and weâ€™re now making ready to drive to Disney World tomorrow â€“ weâ€™ll be in the parks Monday and Tuesday, heading north again Wednesday.
In Biscayne National (Underwater) Park we had booked, earlier than originally planned, two trips. Since Biscayne is a coral reef hiking is not really that easy (well, it does have some islands as well .. so maybe we could have done it), so we wanted to take a glass bottom boat trip and snorkel â€“ the glass bottom boat trip was really mostly for Felix being able to see something since he cannot snorkel.
After having enjoyed the sweet life on Tybee Island, we drove down the eastern Florida coast with three extra days on our hands, hoping maybe to spend a day somewhere on the beach and maybe even getting some surfing lessons.
The Lonely Planet told us that the most dependable surf in all of Florida was on Cocoa Beach, so we headed there. We arrived pretty late in the evening (whatâ€™s new about that?) and found several surf shops still open, but for lessons we had to call the next morning.
Savanna was my great hope of seeing some real â€Southern Livingâ€, and with the Queen of Southern Food (aka: Paula Deen, from Food Network) and with great promises to see a lot of Historic Areas downtown (courtesy of Lonely Planet), it sounded like the place for seeing some more of the old south.
We arrived from Charleston, which had already given us a good taste of â€œThe Southâ€ than we had expected, to Tybee Island, just 15 miles / 24 km from town. We arrived just before sunset to the campground and found one of the last spots. The security guy told us that the beach was just five minutes walk away, so we debated if we should go there before or after dinner. Sabine won and we went before dinner.
After having been at Cocoa Beach, Palm Beach, South Beach, Biscayne National Underwater Park, we are now in Key West with a campsite all the way down to the water 🙂
At the coast we reached Charleston Wednesday evening, pretty late, so we opted for the traditional city campground called WalMart. We had stopped for dinner on the way, at a place called Sticky Fingers, where we got four different kinds of really tasty spareribs (dry rub, sweet, spicy and wet). Ok, the wet was not really that good (the meat was too dry), but the dry rub and the spicy ones were really good. The night was hot (85 deg / 30 C) and humid and Iâ€™ll admit that I didnâ€™t sleep too well, but Sabine said it was not too bad. Thursday we got the essentials, Nutella at Cost Plus and an oil change and some bug spray at WalMart and we were ready to go downtown.
For once we actually went to the tourist information, where we also parked, before we started to look at the city. We picked up some maps and started down the direction City Market to get some lunch. The City Market was more of a tourist trap than a food place, selling things that really only tourists will buy.