Tag Archives: key west

Florida Keys after Hurricane Irma

This trip to Florida was essentially un-planned, so we had no reservations other than one we made in Key West a year ago.  We had made the reservation because we could cancel it without penalty, so why not?  Now, although Key West isn’t actually our favorite destination on the planet, it’s not so bad in February so to-Key-West-we-will-go.

The Keys were hit hard by Hurricane Irma last fall and we were curious about how they had fared.  While we knew Key West was spared the worst of Irma, the middle Keys were reportedly hammered.  Evidence was apparent even in Key Largo, where we passed empty lots that had become depositories for boats and trailers and other debris that had been damaged or destroyed.  img_6824Along Overseas Highway we passed lot after lot that had been razed and bulldozed.  In some cases, debris was piled high on the lots, or even dumped along the roadside, yet to be trucked away.

As we proceeded west down Route 1, damage increased and work crews were evident everywhere, on public works projects, commercial developments and private homes.  A lot had already been done, but clearly it will take some time for full recovery.

img_6841-1Sombrero Beach, a neighborhood on Marathon, was badly damaged.  The lovely little beach was in use, but there were huge sandpiles everywhere and brand new housing was obvious.

img_6813-1The worst area we saw was around Big Pine Key, just west of Seven Mile Bridge.  Whole blocks of homes appeared to have been bulldozed, and others were obviously struggling to recover.  img_6855Gutted and destroyed mobile homes and boats were lying along the side of the main highway, apparently dumped there by the storm or pushed off the road and left by work crews.  Roofs up and down the key were weather-proofed by sturdy bright blue tarps, still waiting repair.

img_6763Our campground, Boyds on Stock Island, looked great, but they had obviously lost a large number of the lovely tall palms which had provided shade.  The staff talked about the enormous amount of work to remove tons of debris.  Some Key West resorts appeared to be recently renovated, but most were open.  Timg_6775he main harbor on the north side of the island was in good shape, although one or two piers had sustained significant damage and were being re-built.  There was a large amount of debris still piled on the breakwater, including large chunks broken-up boats, coolers, and furniture.  img_6863Sunset Pier was open for business, but most of the pier was damaged and closed off.   Duval Street was business-as-usual, with no sign of the hurricane at all.

While in Key West, we enjoyed a number of our favorite restaurants and watering holes, especially Roostica, near our campground on Stock Island.  We walked around Duval Street, neighborhoods, and Schooner Wharf, enjoying the scenes, but limited ourselves because the dogs can only take so much of the heat.

img_6792We also did some scouting for our trip next year, which we plan to make by boat!  We made a reservation for a slip at The Galleon Marina, right under the breakwater, where we will be in the heart of Key West but slightly removed from the nighttime craziness.  There were two American Tugs there when we visited.  A big adventure to look forward to!

 

Key West

Say what you will about Key West, we enjoy our visits there.  First of all, it’s warm and sunny while it’s cold and snowy at home.  But more than that, the drive down Overseas Highway is very pretty, the seafood is wonderful (if you look in the right places), it’s casual and free-wheeling, and a bit crazy.  For a few days it’s great fun.

img_0673As campers we don’t have a lot of options.  We stay at Boyd’s Campground on Stock Island.  It’s crowded and you are packed in like sardines, but it is well run, friendly, and convenient.  Because we’re such a small camper they plunk us into a waterfront site that is not unpleasant.  It’s nothing like the beauty of the Florida keys state parks but for a few days, we’re OK with that.  Besides, the keys state parks camp site reservations are absolutely impossible to get.  We’ve tried for years and have finally given up.

img_0650For us, a typical day starts with coffee and breakfast in the Bambi, then a ride into downtown with the pups for a Cuban coffee.  We take advantage of the cooler morning hours to explore the town, as the dogs aren’t much good in the afternoon sun and heat.  Schooner Wharf, Duval Street, and various neighborhoods all hold unique charm.  It is delightfully dog-friendly.  Even the Audubon House Museum allowed the pups inside for a tour.

By mid-day we are all thirsty and hungry.  Lunch is generally oysters and Key West Pinks (shrimp), and something cold to wash them down.  While we sample a broad variety of watering holes for a this noche, our favorites are the Smokin’ Tuna Saloon and the Hog’s Breath Saloon, which tended to have plenty of bar stools available at that time of day and were dog friendly.

Afternoons, when it can be pretty hot, are a good time for errands, Bambi work, maybe a snooze and activity about the campground.  Water sports are also tempting, but generally not an option for us with the dogs.  We also would have liked a day trip to the Dry Tortugas, but once again, no dogs. 🙁

This year also brought us the Patriots unbelievable performance in Super Bowl XI.  We began the game at our favorite Stock Island restaurant, Roostica, surrounded by New England fans.  When the chips were down we headed back to the Bambi, where we witnessed the spectular finish.  Wow.

After a few days, we are ready to roll out again.