Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Just like Bogie and Bacall

We are in the campground at John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park, on Key Largo (map).

The principal feature of this park is, of course, the coral reef, and the vast majority of the park's acreage is actually submarine. From the marina, just a short walk from our camp site, one can take a glass-bottom boat tour of the reefs, or charter a dive boat. We're holding off, because later this week we will be doing our PADI open-water diver certification with a dive operator nearby, and we expect our four open-water qualifying dives to be in the park anyway.

We're here in the campground for a much more banal reason, namely, that we wanted to spend a few days in the Keys, and this park's campground happened to have three consecutive days available in a space that would fit us. As it turns out, though, we'll only spend two nights, as our dive lessons start first thing Thursday morning, so tomorrow night we will situate ourselves outside the dive shop. This afternoon I scooted over to the gatehouse and had them refund our third night; we need to be out of our site tomorrow at 1pm, but we'll just move to the boat ramp parking for the rest of the day, and perhaps spend a couple hours in the aquarium here. Unfortunately, the aquarium's largest tank is empty for maintenance right now.

This morning we had a nice ride through town, checking out our digs for tomorrow night just to make sure we'd encounter no low trees or other obstacles, and whizzing past the Caribbean Club, where the very small handful of location shots for the movie Key Largo were filmed. We did not stop; I understand the joint is chock-full of Bogart memorabilia nowadays. We did stop at the Winn-Dixie to pick up a few groceries. This evening we rode to dinner at Rib Daddy's, virtually across the street from the park entrance.

The weather has been absolutely perfect, and it is beautiful here. Unfortunately, we've been more or less quarantined inside the bus, because the Keys are full of no-see-ums, an aptly named minuscule gnat (also known as sand fleas) that inflicts a painful sting upon alighting on one's bare skin. They don't seem to have a huge effect on me, but Louise welts up instantly, and the stings become inflamed and sometimes infected in short order. We can't set foot outside the bus without being inundated with them. So cutting our stay here short by one night seems like no sacrifice at all.

Image uploaded by Shannon Coffey, used under a Creative Commons license.


  1. The glass bottom boat ride is well worth it in my opinion. I couldn't believe how clear the water is out there! The many types of coral and the large variety of fish is amazing to see.

  2. I used Benedryl Ointment to ease the welts from the no see ums when I was in Texas this spring. Wal Mart had the look a like ointment for a reasonable price, and I bought two since it felt like I was taking a bath in the stuff. Rod

  3. Louise, we feel your pain! Years ago we camped in the Keys in November in a pop-up camper. The screens were not fine enough to keep those no-see-ums out. They bit us through the sheets all night long. I got up early to use the restroom and when I got back Jim had taken everything down and was ready to go. I've never seen him so energetic at 6:30AM! We spent the rest of the week at the Eden House in Key West and had a great time. Just one of the reasons we have no desire to go back home to Florida.

  4. Years of living in Savannah taught me that Avon's Skin So Soft is an excellent barrier to no seeums. It doesn't repel them but provides a barrier to keep them from biting.


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