Bahia Honda State Park
Big Pine Key, FL
I meet up with Tricia outside the conservatory, then we walk back to the truck to put away my recent purchases from the gift shop. It's just after noon and I'm getting hungry. One thing we decided on this trip was to only eat at "new to us" restaurants. Not a problem, this island is loaded with restaurants and bars. It's Tricia's turn to pick the restaurant and she chooses Santiago's Bodega, it's about 3/4 mile from where we're standing, so we decide to walk.
Once inside the wonderfully air conditioned restaurant I'm feeling a little under dressed, this is not a shorts and T-shirt kind of place. Cloth napkins and wine lists on the table were my first clues, but hey, the place is nearly empty and they let us in, so let's have lunch. We ordered a monster sized Greek Salad to share and a pair of skewered tapas, one beef tenderloin and one chicken. The food was slow getting to the table, but tasted excellent and was not terribly expensive.
About halfway through our meal, men in suits and women in long dresses start filling the restaurant. Come to find out at lunch time they seem to cater to the professionals that work at the nearby Courthouse and City Hall. I glean this information from the discussions I overhear from nearby tables and the fact that the waitress seems to know everyone's name and food order before they even sit down. But then again, maybe they just called in ahead of time with their orders.
We exit the restaurant and check the time. It's nearly 1:30PM, how long were we in there? We have fifteen minutes left on the meter back at the truck and it's 3/4 mile away. The parking meter patrols here on the island are notorious for handing out tickets for expired meters. With a little hustle we get back to the truck with two minutes to spare and sure enough there is a patrol on the next block down Duvall and working their way towards our truck. Let's get out of here and head over to the beach.
There are several beaches here on Key West to choose from, but in my opinion the beach inside of Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park is the best choice. I say this for several reasons, 1) It is the only one located anywhere near the downtown end of Duval Street. You can pay the modest entrance fee for the park and leave your car here all day until sunset and walk or bicycle the 1/2 mile back to Duval Street, but bring your receipt to get back into the park. 2) It is the only one with any real opportunity to go snorkeling right off the beach. There are several man made large piles of coral rock about ten yards offshore which the tropical fish just love to swim around. There are chair and umbrella rentals, a cafe with food and drinks, rinse showers and bathrooms. 3) It has this historic brick fort you can explore for free. What else could you want or need?
They do have one thing here that I wanted, one of our southeastern United States bucket list items, Frozen Chocolate Dipped Key Lime Pie on a Stick. But better than that, these were homemade and even more delicious than the commercially produced ones you can buy all over town.
On this visit the wind and the waves were just a little too much for us, so no snorkeling today. This has always been a stop for us on previous visits to Key West so we didn't feel too disappointed, after all we were just here last month. After several hours of wading in the ocean, people watching and reading, it was time to head back to the Airstream, some 37 miles back up US1. On the drive home we started discussing what was going to be for dinner. I know, let's stop somewhere and buy some fresh fish to cook on our new, never been used, Cuisinart grill. This is where Google comes to the rescue and locates Fanci Seafood just 14 miles south of the campground on Cudjoe Key.
Well, this brings us to the end of our day trip to Key West. It's time to eat!
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