This is Part 2. To read Part 1, Click HERE.
To read about the tour that was inspired by this research trip, Click HERE.
Day Two: Curry Hammock State Park to John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park
What a gorgeous morning to continue researching our new gay bike tour! We walked to the beach where the water was as still as glass. The colors of the sky mixed with the colors of the ocean: pink and purple, pale blue and gray. The sun was piercing through the clouds and reflecting off the water, tropical birds were all around us, and everything was almost perfect as we sat back and enjoyed our horrible burnt coffee (Daisson was having a little trouble with his Bunsen Burner and stovetop espresso maker).
The coffee was terrible, but neither of us cared, because we were camping, and everything tastes amazing when you are camping and off on an adventure! We made videos and took pictures… People try to say that there are no beaches in the Keys. I have to say that this morning I was standing on one of the prettiest beaches I’ve ever seen. My first job was as a professional beach attendant, then a decade later I was a professional surfing instructor, so I think I know a thing or two about beaches…even if I did recently say that the beach on Culebra was the prettiest ever.
We ate a simple breakfast this morning (which may not have been the best idea since it was 20 miles to our lunch stop), loaded our gear onto our bikes, and got on our way. Today opened with even more beauty than yesterday. There were far more bike paths and dedicated bike and fishing bridges than on yesterday’s ride, allowing us to ride away from the traffic on the Overseas Highway, as US Route 1 is called here in the Keys. The woods that lined the path opened up at regular intervals, providing us with beautiful vistas of the ocean. I was really starting to get excited about our kayaking tomorrow; the conditions of the water were absolutely perfect.
We continued to see amazing vistas with each small bend in the path and we eventually reached Habanos Oceanside Grill for a real breakfast/lunch. I was so hungry, I would have eaten practically anything. Honestly, the waitress could have brought me a bowl of fish fins and a pork bone and I would have been happy.
We sat next to a window and made jokes about each other’s outfits until the waitress took our orders. My fashionable biking attire was a bit gay for my straight friend Daisson’s taste… and I felt the least he could do is put on a clean shirt! The view of the Marina was spectacular and the food was fantastic. I got pork chops smothered in onions with a side of mashed potatoes and fried sweet plantains. I ate everything in 5 minutes, like some kind of ravenous wolf… a ravenous wolf with a pink bandana tied around his forehead.
Daisson had a fish sandwich which he said was so good that he ordered another one to go! He said he was going to put it in his pack and eat it in a few hours. Ughh… I was just sure he was going to get some kind of fish poisoning and I would have to give him mouth to mouth resuscitation. (I can just imagine the horror on his face when he wakes up to that! HA HA!)
Now that we were all rested and re-energized, we continued on with our day. At one point we were able to pull off onto a separate bike path with lush vegetation between us and the roadway. This is where we rode past beautiful multi-million dollar houses that you never see from the highway. I had not tied down my gear properly though, and at one point I almost lost my pack. I stopped to tie everything on more carefully, and realized that I had once again lost my honey bear.
Grrrr, this was now three honey bears lost along the way. At this rate I would never get to have any honey! Poor, poor bears.
In Tavenier the bike path ended, so we meandered through neighborhoods to avoid the highway. We stopped at a little place called Café Moka. Here we had fresh baked croissants and chai lattes. The girl at the counter told me that the owners of the café were French. I told her “that’s funny, because my boyfriend is French” and rolled my eyes toward Daisson. She smiled really big at him. He threw his arms up in his annoyed-at-Zach-gesture and cried “Really?? Why do you have to make every moment awkward for me!?”. I replied “Because it’s so EASY, Daisson.” I really have a knack for making my hetero friend uncomfortable; I mean, come on… he doesn’t even look French.
Back in the saddle, eventually the road opened back up into bike lanes with the occasional scenic byway where we could ride on the well-paved route that used to carry all the traffic through the Keys. The biking on this tour has been spectacular. I had no idea how great it would be before I made this test ride.
When we finally reached mile marker 100, we took all kinds of sexy(?) pictures and videos commemorating this momentous occasion.
We arrived at John Pennekamp Park and started the packing of our kayaks. We had left the majority of our kayak gear here the week before and now we were just making last-minute adjustments to the plan. We needed to move the kayaks closer to the water, so the park ranger let us load them in the back of a pickup truck and haul them over to the water’s edge.
Tonight Sara came up from the office and met us with some last minute supplies. We all went out for a celebratory dinner at a fabulous local Thai restaurant, (which is now a must for our tour) then made a last-minute run to the grocery store for supplies (and honey bears). I had no idea just how much food I would be consuming on this trip.
Tonight we all shared a celebratory flask of Jack Daniels Tennessee Honey Whiskey and stayed up late at our camp telling stories and cheering for our success.
Tonight I slept in a hammock completely encased in mosquito netting. I promise this is the most comfortable way to camp in our climate.
Tomorrow? Kayaking the Keys!
(to be continued…)