It will work out

We’ve been trying to get to the Keys for a few days now but it just hasn’t worked out. We were determined, today was the day – and it was, although our actual driving only started at 4pm.

From what we’ve learned about the Keys, this could be quite a dangerous choice. We have so far, had a trip with a huge amount of flow. We never quite know where we’re going to stay until sometimes 5 minutes before we decide to stay there. This is our preference – to us the reservations and the excessive planning is difficult, and tiresome. It does mean we miss things sometimes, but for the most part it has worked out really well for us.

In the Keys however, although it’s island living, it’s far from laid back (from an accommodation standpoint). There is no Walmart and the Monroe County legislation makes overnight parking a big NO-NO anywhere in the Keys, but especially Key West. This forces just about everyone to go to a hotel or campsite. In high season (winter) it is highly recommended you reserve as early as possible because there is a very limited number of spaces in the cheaper state parks. There is usually space in most other places during the week but you are looking at spending a premium for it. As it is, the 3 State Parks in the Keys charge $42/night. Private campsites can be at least $50 but usually closer to $80-100/night and many have restrictions about pets, size of RV etc. The thing about the State Park is, you know it will be what you expect and for a reasonable cost. The private guys though, can easily charge an arm and a leg but still be pretty crappy.

Now, we did try to reserve a spot at a State Park last week but, this is serious business. Apparently these sites book full up 10-11 months in advance. So not surprisingly we were not able to reserve anywhere at a reasonable cost.

So we decided to risk it and drive south anyway.  All along the way Andrew is saying “It will all work out”. Meanwhile I’m frantically googling, and calling, and doing whatever I can to ensure that we didn’t just drive into the Keys for the sake of it.

Our plan was to visit John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park in Key Largo – It is the first of the three along the Keys.  While Andrew was surprised that we were instantly turned away, I had seen her laughing at us from a mile away. These poor Rangers must have no faith left in humanity when people show up and expect there be a free space 5 minutes before they close.

We thought going further would be futile as the sun was setting, and State and private parks were closing. Somewhat defeated, we decided to head back to Miami.

On our way out we happend to pull off at the last possible place before leaving Key Largo.  It was a marina and hotel.  We asked them if they would allow overnight parking and what they would charge.  They said $10, we were sold! It was an amazing little find which proved yet again that lack of planning, sometimes, pays off in spades.

The place was gorgeous. With its own beach,

a restaurant,

and nightly live entertanment

right on the open water…

I have to hand it to Andrew – It did all work out.  Next time though, and for my sanity, we’re going to try not leave it until 4pm to make these decisions.