Alright, let's pick up where we left off: the colorful town of Islamorada. If you liked those pictures, the good news is: it's just as colorful the further down south you go!
Shortly after our journey through Islamorada my dad and I arrived in Marathon. We checked into our hotel and relaxed for a little bit before embarking on a journey to familiarize ourselves with the town. Marathon sits just north of the famed "Seven Mile Bridge", so we decided to take a drive and check it out. That bridge is no joke.... seven miles of straight bridge with nothing but the Atlantic Ocean on one side and the Gulf of Mexico on the other. We drove to the first gas station we saw, found an adequate place to turn around in the parking lot and headed back across the bridge. Upon our re-entry into Marathon I saw a section of trailer park homes that caught my eye. Sometimes you just have to brave the sketchy parts of town in order to get the best pictures!
Despite the cloudy weather we had throughout the day, my dad and I were still itching to see our first Florida Keys sunset. After some quick research we landed on Sombrero Beach, on the Atlantic Ocean side of Marathon. Few people were at the beach, aside from the family having a cookout, the single man laying in his bright orange hammock fixed between two palm trees and the mother and two daughters who were sitting upon the rocks awaiting the sunset.
Well the sunset was over and it was time to grab some good ol' Papa Johns pizza and head back to the hotel room for some quality TV time.
We woke up on our third day in Florida and headed to breakfast at a small local restaurant called The Wooden Spoon. The busy little space was buzzing with people and the smell of good breakfast food filled the air. The yellow and blue restaurant was lined with tons of wooden spoons, forks and other utensils. The food was killer; totally recommend for anyone who finds themselves in Marathon.
After the conclusion of breakfast, my dad and I hopped into the car and headed south towards Key West. Our first stop on the day's journey was at our second park: Bahia Honda State Park. Just after the Seven Mile Bridge, Bahia Honda State Park is home to an abandoned railroad bridge, which had a paved roadway laid on top of it (that's abandoned too), and some of the best ocean views in the middle keys.
With one lost earring and all of our belongings, we headed out of Bahia Honda State Park and through the smaller keys that stood between us and Key West. After an hour of driving we arrived at the pearly gates of Key West (the pearly gates aren't actually a thing... though I wish). It was like entering an entirely different universe. The little island of Key West (approximately four miles from top to bottom and 1 mile from side to side), was poppin!
We headed straight to Mallory Square in the Old Town part of Key West. We parked beneath a humungous yellow hotel that was lined with palm trees and overlooked the Gulf of Mexico and Port of Key West. From there, my dad and I spend the rest of our trip exploring everything that Key West had to offer: from Key Lime Pie to famous Saloons and all of the colors houses and sunsets in between.
Yes. The sunsets in Key West are that good that there needs to be an entirely separate section dedicated to them. On our first night, my dad and I followed the advice of a friend and headed to Mallory Square to catch the sunset. However, the crowd was unlike anything we had anticipated. Take the crowd waiting for the headliner at Coachella and place it on the pier at Mallory Square and that's how many people were waiting for the sunset. So instead, we opted for a slightly different view from the Port of Key West (where all of the cruise ships come in).
On our second and final night in Key West we ventured to a clearer and more beautiful view of the sunset in a less known area: Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park. Watching the sunset from the park was unreal. Sitting atop the rocks with the waves crashing beneath me, I watched as the sailboats floated across the river, swiftly crossing the suns path. That night we were charmed with the departure of a Royal Caribbean cruise ship leaving Key West at sunset. As the sun was saying goodbye, the ship pulled out of the port, honked it's horn (which scared the bejesus out of me), and floated off into the sunset. A truly once in a lifetime experience to see such a thing!