Although we saw a lot of cool things in the Everglades we were excited to get to Key West where an air-conditioned hotel awaited. We soon reached the famed ‘Overwaters Highway,’ 127.5 miles of bridges and islands eventually reaching Key West. It was a nice drive, our timing was fortunate to avoid major traffic jams. A combination of only being 1 lane in each direct, many things to look at and terrible Florida driving often leads to a 4 hour drive from start to finish. We reached our hotel and upon check-in learned our room was not yet ready. However, we were quickly informed that it was happy hour and wine was complimentary so we didn’t mind the wait. Seriously, every hotel should just offer free wine if your room isn’t yet ready. After unpacking we drove to the airport to pick up our friend Daniel, who was joining us for the rest of our trip. We picked him up and headed to a nearby place for dinner as a thunderstorm was passing through. We had fun catching up, enjoyed another delicious meal (our food selection has been excellent so far this trip) and headed back to the hotel. We walked around Key West for a bit and found some disappointing Key Lime Pie before retiring for the evening.
After attempting to quickly drive down to the Everglades (the horrendous Florida drivers making every effort to stop us) we managed to arrive on time to Everglades City for an airboat ride. Everglades City is not only the best place in the world for airboat rides but has had a fascinating (but painful) last few decades, some of which is documented in the documentary ‘Square Grouper.’ We were on our way to Everglades National Park but stopping here for the aforementioned airboat ride. It was really fun, the driver had a lot of interesting pieces of history about the city to tell us and made the ride very exciting. We also saw our first wild alligators on the trip so far (they seem to subsist on a guide-provided diet of marshmallows.) After the boat trip we walked through the ‘zoo’ which was a disappointing exhibit of awesome animals in tiny cages. Supposedly the new owners (same company as the airboat rides) are making plans to build new enclosures.
We enjoyed a scenic drive down to the St. Petersburg area although the terrible Florida drivers (seriously, worst in the country) threatened to ruin it. After 5 or 6 hours we reached New Port Richey where we were staying one night with Taylor’s cousins Laura & Doug. We had a great night catching up and eating delicious BBQ.
(We intended to keep as detailed blog posts as we did with the West Coast Road trip however we ran out of time. We did want to show some photos and stories from our highlights. Hope you enjoy this series of belated entries.) With only a day at home to unpack from the West Coast, clean some of our gear and clothes and re-pack for warm weather we were in a huge hurry. Early the next morning we flew to our first stop, New Orleans. New Orleans was really high on our ‘List of Cities We Need to Visit’ and we couldn’t wait to see it. Because of the time change we were due to arrive in the afternoon. We planned on getting our rental car, head to the hotel to take a nap and maybe explore the city in the afternoon. Our hotel was located on the edge of the French Quarter and as we drove into town we immediately decided there was no time to nap, we needed to explore the city a bit. We had three goals for our roadtrips; Eat as much food as we could, see many parts of America we hadn’t seen yet and see family. New Orleans was not only a new city for us but happens to have some pretty amazing cuisine. Not 2 minutes outside of our hotel was Acme Oyster, home of the ‘Dozen Dozen Oysters’ eating challenge. This was our first stop. We skipped the challenge but definitely wanted some seafood. A dozen oysters with an oyster & shrimp po’ boy was the perfect start to our trip. We walked around the city for a bit but running on fumes we decided to take a nap before finding dinner and seeing the city at night.