Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Dear Kids,
     Dad and I are having a great time here in the Florida Keys. We started out Friday afternoon from Miami, in a rental car (Dodge Caliber, very sporty) and drove to the John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park. Our camping spot was about 6 feet wide, in between two motor homes, but I think Dad felt safer from Alligators. (more later.) The next morning we went to K-Mart to get all the stuff we forgot, and then we went swimming in the ocean (Atlantic side.) It's weird here in the Keys--there are places where you can swim in the Gulf of Mexico, and then you run across the parking lot and jump into the Atlantic. Not that we've been doing much of that, because there's been lots of wind since Sunday. The snorkel expeditions have been shut down. They say it's the outer edges of a hurricane that's landing in Jacksonville, but we don't have access to any news, so we don't know.
     Saturday afternoon we drove south on the Overseas Highway, which has always been dad's ambition, all the way to Key West. What a weird and fun town! Monica, we can totally picture you there. Neil, too. People ride around on bikes and scooters, since there's practically no place to park in the old part of town. But the area is overrun with chickens! You might be eating in a very nice restaurant, which we were doing Saturday night, and a chicken walks in and starts pecking around your feet. There are lots of stray cats, too, which sit around and glare at the chickens. And lots of T-shirt shops and bars. There's a boardwalk where everybody watches the sunset, with jugglers, fire eaters, and other attractions. And more cats and chickens.
     We stayed Saturday night at Sunday night at the KOA campground on Sugarloaf Key. Hey, if anybody is planning a trip down here, Dad and I are becoming experts on Florida campgrounds. It's definitely the cheapest accommodations in the Keys. They all have electricity and hot showers, and you might be in a nice motel, except that you're bedding down in a tent at night. The tent we borrowed from Donna and Bevan is perfect for the tropics! It's mesh, and the breeze blows through at night, and it feels very good. This is the first camping I've ever done where I never got cold. Sometimes it's even warmer at night than in the daytime. Very weird.
     Sunday we went to church in the Key West Branch, and then we wandered around the Island some more. We took pictures of ourselves and the Buoy that says, "90 miles to Cuba," very famous. We also took pictures of ourselves and Milepost 0 on Highway 1. And we ate Key lime pie. (very gritty.) Monday we headed north from Sugarloaf Key, and we stopped on Big Pine Key, where there's a famous nature preserve. Lots of Key Deer, which are weird little animals with faces like baby calves. We went on a nature hike that took us to a pond where they key deer are supposed to come and drink. We didn't see any deer, but there was an alligator in the pond. He swam over to see if we were going to feed him. Hey, if you thought Dad was afraid of dogs, ask him about alligators! He took a few pictures of this evil-looking guy, and then we were out of there!
     Today, Tuesday, we're headed north again. We crossed a bridge 7 miles long that connects two Keys. We walked miles out onto the old bridge, and watched pelicans. And saw a plaque where a 93-year-old lady evidently jumped to her death, because it said she was "resting with the stingrays." The Keys are nothing if not weird.
     We miss you all! We're learning lots about Florida, so if anybody wants to camp down here, we'll have lots of advice. Meanwhile, we hope you're all "Doin' great and lovin' it."
     Love, Mom