We headed to Jonathan Dickinson State Park via 95 then in Jupiter switched over to the turnpike. Most of this trip was unevenful except that near Titusville we had a flat tire on the camper. I say flat but truthfully it didn’t go flat. The outer tread was stripped completely off the tire, hanging by a thread. Like peeling a banana. Jim says he’s never seen anything like it. Jim remained extremely calm in this situation. Me, I would have been cussing up a storm. Luckily we were able to get two new tires at a nearby Walmart. Jim wants to thank them for providing him with a large jack as we forgot to bring the hydraulic jack. $300 later and we were on our way.
It took a few more hours for us to arrive at Jonathan Dickinson State Park. This was definitely just a stop over spot as it was not a “comfortable” camping area. It was very open, no trees for shade. I’m sure there was things to enjoy further into the park but not at the camp ground. It did however, allow us to rest for the night. The trip to the Keys is a long trip and I would recommend this park if nothing else as a way to break the trip in half.
We arrived at Long Key State Park mid afternoon on Tuesday. Today is Friday and I’m wishing I never had to leave this park. It is truly amazing. Our camper butts right up to the water. The water is shallow for yards and yards out. It is warm and clear and underneath is a world that I would never had guessed was there.
Snorkeling seems to be the prevalent past time here and for good reason. Because of the shallow warm water even young children can safely swim and snorkel. Myself I have always had a deep fear of going under water. I watched Jim last year go under in his mask and snorkel and was so jealous. This year he talked me into going to a dive shop and trying on prescription masks. The guy at Discount Dive in Marathon, the first shop we went to, was very kind and helpful. I explained my situation and he told me how to ease into it. We didn’t buy from him however only because the mask he had didn’t fit quite like the one I ended up buying from Tilden’s Dive Shop / Hawk’s Cay Resort Marina.
Once I became comfortable with the mask and snorkel I truly fell in love with this place, because not everything is visible to the unmasked eye. I will hopefully later be able to post some pictures I took with Jim’s underwater camera. I will save that for a later post.
I would recommend this park for anyone looking to really relax and have fun. There are about 50 sites, some just for tents and others for campers. They aren’t extremely deep but we had very little trouble backing in and setting up. Be aware the sites are sandy.
Anyone that knows us also knows that we love biking. There is a bike trail that runs off and on throughout the keys. The one that runs in front of Long Key State park is a little run down but from what we could tell they are working on repaving the trails. At least in parts of the keys they are. Hopefully the one here is on the list. We have only ridden in the park so far but perhaps we can ride later today and have a more positive report on the trail than what we can see from the road.
The only other real negatives are sand spurs and no see ums. Definitely bring some Avon Skin So Soft as that does work. Bring a fan to set up outside too to help deter the little buggers. Otherwise ENJOY!
Part of sailing is, of course, visiting nearby land and exploring. We go ashore every couple of days for supplies, sometimes showers and laundry, and the occasional restaurannt meal. I dedicate this section to those places we eat a meal different from boat fare.
***** = best ever $ =$15-25 for all 3 of us to eat, $$ = 25-35, $$$ = 35-45, $$$$ = over 45
Fresh Market / Dinner Key: Panini sandwiches mine was an italian, Jim’s was roast beef, and Kaelin had a turkey. They were very large on a toasted italian or cuban type bread. We were starving so it made sense to eat there before getting groceries. The store had an immense selection of premade foods; like I’ve never seen before. You would think they would have an area inside to eat at, but no we had to go back outside under a canopy. The sandwiches were okay. Bread was hard for me to chew due to recent dental work. Kaeliat his inside out but thats what 3yr olds do. Jim liked his. The left overs werenot good the next day, became fish chum. Our rating 3 stars ***$$
Hobo’s Cafe / Key Largo: Again heading to get groceries. On the way I saw Hobos and suggested we eat. As it was already past lunch time and we had not had breakfast (very common on the boat) Jim was all for it. It was very crowded, nice waitresses, but honestly food was not good. Jim and I both had fish sandwiches. Thhe fish was grey and very strange tasting. It was also on toasted whole wheat bread which I find doesnt go well with fish. I love tarter sauce and theirs tasted weird. Jim said they probably make their own sauce to hide the taste of bad food. Kaelin had spaghetti (way too much for little guy!) Kaelins was
good but what he enjoyed more was a video of ocean life playing on the t.v. we give it a *** only because it was airconditioned and the video was cool.$$$
Roccos Dockside Bar and Grill / Boot Key Harbour Marathon: Jim treated us to this meal after
a tiring 5hr sail on rocky rolly waves. At first I was a little disappointed as it was outside but
it turned out to be my favorite so far. Jim had blackened fish on linguine. I had a taste of it
and was sorry I didnt order it. It was delicious. Kaelin was given a neat goody bag and juice box to go with his hot dog and fries. I had delicious fish and chips (fries). The fish was white, mild and lightly breaded. Excellent meal. To top it off I had 3 rum runners. They were more rum than runner but very refreshing and needless to say I was rather “happy”. I think Jim gets a kick out of seeing me tipsy. They also had a gentleman playing 70’s music on a guitar and singing. He was pretty good and Kaelin enjoyed bouncing his head to the tunes. ****$$$$
Hurricane / Marathon: this was a welcome relief from the rain. Very air conditioned. It had an awesome Lego display of Miami Beach that Kaelin looked at for a long time. The food was okay, better than Hobo’s but not as good as Docksides. Jim had a fish sandwich, Kaelin had pasta and I had an Oriental stir fry. Mine was not great. the rice was quick cook rice and that just goes against all I believe in. Jim said his was okay and Kaelin liked his. *** $$$
Cracked Conch Cafe / Marathon: This is an old favorite for Jim. He has been waiting for some time to revisit this place. I love it when Jim gets the “man” mode going and orders for us both. He ordered the Cracked Conch Cafe burger plate. I had never eaten this before so it was a new experience. The conch is beaten, breaded and fried then eaten on a bun like a burger. It had a decent flavor, didnt taste like fish. I did have trouble eating it as it is chewy and again my teeth arent being nice to me. For me it was good but not great. Jim loved it! Kaelin had a nice plate of pasta with butter and garlic and a side order of veges which Jim and I kept pilfering. We all shared a piece of keylime pie. It was good but not tart at all. Jim said the resteraunt has changed since he was there, more run down, less Keysey. **** the one waitress was cranky just like reviews on their website said. To funny. $$$
McConnells Irish Pub /Key West: after walking all over Duval Street , tired and sweaty Jim decided we would head back to this gem of a restraurant. We looked at the menu for awhile unsure what to order as everything looked good. Jim wanted the lamb kabobs but then he also wanted the corned beef and cabbage so I suggested we share the two that way he and I could try both. Both dishes were delicious, especially the corned beef and cabbage. i miss having cabbage and it was cooked perfectly, not cooked to mush. Kaelin had mini corn dogs if memory serves me. He also ate a lot of our veges. Jim had a Guinees then switched to a lighter beer. I started off with a rum runner (I’m comparing the different ones( and then at the suggestion of our waitress, Maria, had a Key West Sunset. Both drinks were the best I hsve had so far this trip. I really like the sunset drink, yummy. We of course also shared a slice of Key Lime pie. Our waitress was not Irish, but was very sweet and patient. This was by far our favorite and would recommend it to anyone looking for some wonderful Irish food. *****$$$$