Today our goal was to get in as much of South Florida in one day as possible. We wanted to see Miami Beach, Little Havana and my secret goal was to see the sunset out on the Florida Keys. The day went well and we were able to take in everything that was on the agenda. It was a long day however and starting at 11am didn’t help any.
Our busy day yesterday at the Space Center tired us out a little and we didn’t get out of bed until almost 10am. By the time we left the hotel at 11 in the morning we were definitely running behind schedule. We have learned on this trip that sleep and rest are important so we don’t worry to much about pushing ourselves to wake up early. We don’t want to burn out.
The first place we wanted to go was Miami Beach. We got in the car and made the 30 or so mile journey south into Miami. Being from Las Vegas, we are used to seeing construction cranes, but Miami takes it to another level. There must be at least 50 different high rise condo towers currently under construction. The whole skyline is dotted with massive amounts of half built buildings with cranes hanging over the edge. After driving through downtown Miami we arrived in Miami Beach. Miami Beach is a little island off the coast and is a separate city from Miami. Miami Beach is also home to the famous South Beach area and some delightful art deco architecture.
We started at the very south edge of the island and drove 35 blocks along the coast taking in the atmosphere and admiring the architecture. Finally, at 35th street we decided to park and go at it on foot. Jasmine and Shawn Reece wanted to go play in the sand so we decided to relax on the beach for a bit.
After about 30 minutes of relaxation we decided to walk along the boardwalk to find something to eat. 18 blocks later (this fit in with our plan of at least 3 miles of walking) we found a French bakery that I had seen when we were driving around earlier. They served fresh salads, a variety of sweet treats and deli sandwiches on French baguettes. When we walked into the bakery the smell alone told me that this was the place. The sandwiches were absolutely delicious and Shawn Reece made a mess of it as usual.
With our bellies full of food and our egos full of pride from this great discovery of a restaurant, we headed back to the boardwalk to start our 18 block journey back to the car. On the way back we saw quite a few interesting insects that are far larger than anything I have ever seen back west. I think this is a grasshopper? The way he was devouring the dead bug I didn’t want to mess with him. I swear that he stared me down as I took the picture. After completing our long walk back, we relaxed for a few more minutes on the beach and then headed off to Calle Ocho, the center of the massive Cuban area of Miami.
We didn’t really have time to stop, so we opted for the driving tour of Calle Ocho. We saw quite a few landmarks including a place we recognized from Season 7 of the Amazing Race. On several corners we saw statues dedicated to various Cubans. Unfortunately, I didn’t get any great pictures of them, but I did manage to capture the essence of the Calle Ocho special at KFC!
It was now about 4pm and traffic around Miami was horrid. We decided to head down to the keys and to see how far we got before sundown. It took almost an hour and a half just to get out of the city before reaching the city of Homestead, which is the last stop before the Florida Keys. We figured that we would still make it out before sundown so we continued. Our journey led us through Key Largo and several smaller keys before we reach Islamorada. We stopped at a store there and they told us that we were about 20 miles from the best place to watch the sunset. At this point it was a race against time as the sun was declining rapidly.
Highway 1 that runs through the keys has a speed limit of 45MPH so I struggled with the fact that I couldn’t go much more than 50MPH on the way out. As I watched the sun rapidly descend out of the passenger side window I grew anxious. It was probably the longest 20 miles of my life. For some reason I was committed to seeing this sunset from the best spot around. Fortunately, when we reached the infamous spot we still had a few minutes and were blessed with a beautiful sunset into the ocean. The various cloud formations in the sky made for a spectacular site.
After thoroughly taking in the sunset and taking about 1000 pictures (okay maybe 100) we headed back to the car and met some friendly locals who informed us that we picked one of the better nights to view the sunset. This statement was satisfying after all of the anxiety I caused myself on the way out. On our way through Key Largo we stopped at a local Italian restaurant and ate before heading the 108 miles back up to our hotel. Tomorrow we are heading north along the west coast of Florida to St. Petersburg where we plan to take in a baseball game. On Saturday our plan calls for lying on the beach all day! We should finally be out of Florida by Sunday night. Talk to you all soon!
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The Coomer Family