Key Largo is the northernmost of the Florida Keys on the Florida Keys Overseas Heritage Trail, which technically ends at mile marker 106 at the north end of Key Largo. But…this does not mean that you are really on the mainland yet. First you must cross the sounds that separate Key Largo from the Everglades, either on the Overseas Highway (Route 1/S Dixie Hwy) or Card Sound Road. There are pros and cons to each. We chose the wide shoulder and shorter distance of the Overseas Hwy instead of the better scenery and (usually) lighter traffic on Card Sound Rd. We were mostly concerned about the fact that Card Sound has little to no shoulder and two-way traffic means that you could have passing oncoming traffic in your lane too–a bigger concern than northbound traffic at the beginning of this holiday weekend. Sadly, the highway route is boring and–since we had the wind largely against us–grueling on this Valentine’s Day. If you choose this route, be sure to stop at the Circle K at the split from Card Sound Rd for a snack and bathroom break, as there will be no more of either available until you reach Florida City (and it’s a well-stocked convenience store).
There’s not much to say about the ride. We saw some birds, we pedaled, we saw water, we pedaled, we saw the blue (actually a nice color) dividing wall between the northbound and southbound lanes, and we pedaled. Twenty-nine miles seemed very long.
I didn’t get a shot of the blue wall, but here’s one that Melissa took of Sarah on our trip last January.
As we were getting close to Florida City, I searched for food and drink on the GPS. It indicated a McDonald’s pretty close to the edge of town. Good enough. I was a little ahead at this point and apparently the conversation when McDonald’s came into view was something along the lines of “She’d better be stopping there!” Meal deals were had by all. We then determined that our destination was only 0.7 miles away. Oh happy day!
Our destination was the Everglades International Hostel, or as it is lovingly known, the Hippie Hostel. We stayed there on my Adventure Cycling tour last year and after the initial culture shock, I really liked it. We liked it this time too. Rooms/beds are dorm style (there are a few private rooms available but we did not book one) and there are common areas inside and out, including a well-stocked kitchen. We spent a while outside relaxing before thinking about what needed to happen next.
Then my father and I took our lives in our hands to ride to the superstore that-will-not-be-named to shop for food. We survived and Maureen rewarded us by cooking up a nice pot of turkey chili with the provisions we had acquired. Though it was still pretty early, we were tired and it was cool outside, so we retreated to our dorm.
Breakfast at the Hippie Hostel is make it yourself pancakes. At breakfast we met the couple who had come into our dorm after our bedtime. It turns out that they are from Lakewood, Ohio and the young woman had a funny story to tell about accidentally ordering Indian food from a Colorado restaurant when we mentioned that we also lived in Lakewood. We shared their table, and our butter, with them for a very pleasant breakfast.
Our destination upon leaving Florida City was Miami, but that description will have to wait for another post…