Day 246 – Kennedy Space Center to Florida City
Sunday we had a long drive planned with an important stop along the way, so we packed up the van and headed south towards Miami. This was probably the most difficult drive of the entire trip, lots of traffic and city driving with terrible, awful drivers. It was exhausting for both of us, but we made our way around Miami to Biscayne Bay National Park. We didn’t really get to enjoy the park as it was meant to be enjoyed, since it really is best suited for snorkeling and boating. But we enjoyed the nice weather and got a really nice view of the Miami skyline far in the distance.
The day was already getting late, so we continued on to our hotel in Homestead, where Tracey made us dinner in the van and then we tried to unwind from a stressful day.
Day 247 – Florida City
After working Monday morning from the hotel, we took a short drive west to for our first visit (we’ll visit again later) to Everglades National Park. We didn’t have a lot of time, but we stopped by the visitor center, then went to the Royal Palm area where we walked the Anhinga and Gumbo Limbo trails. We saw our first alligator, our first turtle and lots of interesting birds. It was a little warm and humid, though, so we headed back to the hotel for dinner and air conditioning.
Day 248 – Florida City to Marathon
Tuesday started at the hotel working and watching the previous night’s Blazers game. Then we got back in the van and drove to our Marathon, one of the larger towns in the Florida Keys, about halfway to Key West. We noticed a lot of debris still piled next to the highway from Hurricane Irma, but it seemed like most businesses were open or planning to open soon, and in general life was getting back to normal.
Day 249 – Marathon
Wednesday after some work, we left the hotel in time to eat lunch in Key West. After enjoying some seafood, we explored the town, walking the length of Duval Street to the southernmost point marker. Then we headed back to the gulf side of the island and did some more exploring before returning to the hotel in marathon.
Day 250 – Marathon to Homestead
Thursday morning began with work and another Blazers game, then we began the long drive north out of Florida, stopping again in Homestead. Since we had a little extra time, we went to see the new Star Wars movie.
Day 251 – Homestead to Koreshan
Friday, after a morning of work, we hit the road and continued our trip north, stopping at the Shark Valley visitor center to see a little more of Everglades National Park. The walking trails were closed, but we were able to walk along the tram trail, where we saw several alligators up close…very close. We also saw another turtle and a few birds, but the gators were definitely the star of the show. After the walk, we continued west through the Everglades, where we saw several more gators and thousands of birds along the way. Finally, we stopped for the night in Koreshan State Historic Site, near Naples.
Day 252 – Koreshan to Lakeland
Once again we were back on the road, continuing north to Lakeland. We made one stop for a chance to see manatees. We stopped at Lee Country Manatee Park, and although the water was pretty murky, we did get to see a few manatees, or at least the parts of them that stuck out of the water. We also stopped for groceries, because we had a full kitchen waiting for us at our next hotel. We took advantage by making chili and meatball soup to freeze, plus a chicken breast dinner. We also made a few treats for Christmas before calling it a night.