Thursday-Sunday Most Recent Post:
November 26-29, 2015 Early Thanksgiving
Bahia Honda State Park
Big Pine Key, Florida
This is a flying forward post through relatively slow days of high winds and a week-end.
We’ve seen signs about “Fishing” talks in this location on the campground drive every single Wednesday. They are talks about the pelicans and ospreys. We’ve never been able to go because of David’s appointments in Key West. So when I see this out on my morning walk I’m determined to go today. But I didn’t look closely at the sign. I ASSUMED it was the same program. The only catch (pun intended) is the hook with the fish on it.
Turns out we are at the perfect program for Nancy and Bill and the other people who filled the room and love to fish. The ranger, who had only set up ten chairs since that’s how many people came to the talk yesterday, is shocked at a full house and hurriedly pulls out more and more chairs.
I guess that tells her how much more popular fishing is than birding here. She is a Native of Cuba who came over her in the 60’s and was a former commercial fisherman and charter boat captain before retiring and becoming a ranger. She really knew her stuff about fishing and about where to catch fish in this park. We enjoyed seeing the fish but she was speaking a foreign language of fishing lures and which places to go to catch specific fish. We probably would not have stayed but we’d gotten front row seats to be able to see and hear all about the birds and didn’t want to be rude by leaving. Oh well……..the moral of the story is ASSUME NOTHING and I
always nearly always practice this except when I’m wanting my assumption to be true I guess..
The best part of today is a wonderful sunset. I manage to get it going down right in the middle of the old bridge. This is thanks to an empty campsite next to this one with the cute little retro trailer and the Thanksgiving turkey. I can’t decide between the distant and the close (not cropped) so you pick.
Hope your day was a wonderful one! We did our celebrating yesterday, a link to that post is at the top of this page if you didn’t see David’s thanksgiving meal of choice.
This morning I take a walk down the ocean beach to the old Bahai Honda bridge and then back to the bay side cabins and campground on the other side of the new bridge..
A pelican party is underway. Squadrons are flying in, circling around and splashing down. Repeat and repeat again.
The night heron along the shore is not phased by all this activity behind him.
The wind today makes for actual waves. It also diminishes the bugs thankfully. I chuckle at these little “waves” but they are so rare that I watch them a bit and take a few pictures of different ones. Usually the water just laps the shore here in the Keys. That was something I didn’t know before I came. I also didn’t know that there were few swimming beaches and even fewer natural sand swimming beaches. I guess I expected the Keys to be similar to the Bahamas. Not sure how you can be in Paradise without wide sandy beaches.
I’m walking along and almost miss this night heron hiding in the foliage on the dune
I stand still and watch him for a while wondering what he’ll do. He eventually feels safe enough to reveal himself
Night herons almost look like different birds to me depending on whether they are standing up with their necks at full length like here or they have their “shoulders up” so that their neck disappears and they appear to be a much smaller bird. Wish he’d done that posture so I could have shown it for comparison. The seaside heron above looks a little like that but in true hunched position, the night heron appears to have no neck. All this is in my eyes of course.
Eventually he begins skulking along atop the coral rocks toward the water.
When he gets into this pose I expect him to soon strike at something. I wait and wait. Clearly I don’t have as much patience as he does so I move along not knowing what he was stalking.
I walk the beach to its walkable end and see the old bridge around the point.
From there I walk up for a better view of where they have taken a section of bridge out so no one can walk on it anymore. You can go up and out on the section on the right that is left connecting to the marina.
I mean to take these steps up to the path to the bridge but get distracted remembering that I have never really looked at the bridge information displayed on four interpretive signs. So I walk up one side of the path and down onto the other side forgetting all about the bridge and its great views.
I get so busy reading and listening to the information here that I don’t take a distant picture of the 4 panels themselves and their location at the foot of the path up to the old bridge and across from the nature center.
Very interesting information and pictures about the building of the railroad from 1905 to 1912 by Henry Flagler who linked Key West with the rest of the country. Here’s an early steam train picture. What a marvel this must have been at that time.
And then comes the 1938 hurricane that devastated the middle keys with 200 mph winds and 20 foot waves. Many deaths including an entire camp of WWI veterans working there. The tracks were not rebuilt but with the rise of the automobile a road was put on top of the rail structure. I’m not sure how I’d feel about driving over this.
I also learn that in 1962, you could rent a campsite at Bahia Honda for $2.06. Of course there was no electricity until 1965.
By 1978 campsite costs had gone up to a whole $5. Park entry was $.25. You could buy a gallon of gas for $.63 and gallon of milk for $1.71. Today campsites are $38.50 this year unless you are an over 65 resident of the Florida. Then you get a 50% discount. That seems VERY generous to me. Many states give much smaller discounts to residents such as the 10% given in Virginia which will barely pay the taxes on your site.
From there I walk back to the campground road and through the edge of the campground to the road to the cabins. I walk under the LOW bridge you saw Ruby squeak under with the kayaks in the Busted Snorkeling post. Pretty sure this is the lowest bridge I have ever seen. I wonder even if all SUVs can get under there. Limbo for vehicles I guess
From there, I look back and see the other side of the little Retro with the Thanksgiving Turkey standing guard. Pretty sweet spot.
When I reach the cabins after walking along the road parallel and right next to highway 1, the boys are out fishing. From what I saw on our illegal snorkel, they should be able to catch some grunts.
The small 8 site campground is completely full as you would expect on this Thanksgiving week-end.
I’m looking for Bill and Nancy’s fishing site. I walk past the last campsite on the far end and find this little trail off to the right.
At first it is a closed in path but it soon opens out and then opens up to the water.
Lots of detritus, both new and old, on this windy day and waves even on the gulf.
There’s a nice view of the cabins back over my left shoulder. Looking the other direction, I don’t recognize the spot Nancy was talking about when she described seeing snorkelers but then her eyes are light years better than mine.
I retrace my steps back to the campground having picked up almost all of my 10,000 steps this morning. I take one more shot of this cute little RV about two sites down from Winnona. It too has a guard.
This morning I walk from the campground on the road to the far day use area beach.
You can’t walk the ocean front from the campground area more than a very short distance unfortunately.
On the road, I walk through the Sandspur campground, to the day use area and then down onto the ocean beach.
I take the beach to the fallen palm and back.
I don’t take my camera, I am just walking.
I see another wonderful pelican party like yesterday.
It’s Saturday so we stay close to home and let the week-enders have it.
We play dominos.
I get skunked.
No pictures of that either.
A day without using my camera.
I like it.
Today is moving day. We leave Bahia Honda around 12:30 since we cannot check in to Curry Hammock until after 1:00. We learned that the last time we park hopped and arrived at 11:30.
We don’t set up much in site 5 because even in the afternoon, the no-see-ums are awful.
They bite David but they do make him itch. He just finds them annoying. Seems this is the case for others also, but they eat me alive and I itch until I’m nearly scratching my skin off. I’ve tried antihistamines, they don’t work. Tried Skin so Soft, it doesn’t work. I think DEET is the only thing that will keep them at bay and I really don’t want that going through my skin pores into my body. We have enough cancer in this pair of people.
At this point, just something to shut off the itching would be a wonder. A REALLY HOT shower will calm it down for a few hours but too many of those and my skin begins to flake from the dryness.
Here’s our set up a few days later. With the bugs, the screen room is the only thing we put out. Very glad they have a little patio off to the side for it on this site.
Never having been to Curry Hammock, when I made this reservation I went against my best judgment and booked site 5 rather than site 15 which I could also have had at that time. Big mistake since although 15 is smaller and we would have had to squeeeeeze in, it’s on the water and thus “potentially” might have fewer bugs and more of a breeze.
But hind sight is 20/20 and I had no idea the no-see-ums would be so bad this late in the year.
I’m a little bit closer to caught up with this jump forward. It takes me to my next post about Monday when we are shut out of snorkeling again on a perfect day and for a for a scary reason.