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This past week, Eliza, Rachel, & I took a road trip to the Florida Keys. The road going from Miami to Key West is supposed to be one of the most beautiful road trips in the US and we wanted to find out for ourselves. Eliza & Rachel are moving to Missouri soon to perform with Story of God, so this resulted in last minute planning and a surprise road trip to sunny beaches and warmer weather.

Savannah was our first stop. I love this city. The eerie spanish moss blankets the trees throughout the city creating a tranquil atmosphere, reverent and whimsical. The old brick buildings sit on the water, full of history, serene and peaceful. We detoured through the beautiful Canaveral National Seashore before stopping for the night in Fort Lauderdale.

The next morning we did a quick tour of Miami & South Beach  before heading to Key Biscayne where we explored the state park, teal water sparkling all around us. Everything I read about Key West said the Card Sound Road and Alabama Jacks was a MUST. I’d skip that if I did it again. The conch fritters were nothing to write home about and the atmosphere of the haphazard restaurant was nothing special. The Card Sound Road was fine, but I don’t know that it gave us a better experience than if we had taken the main road.

The Keys don’t have very many beaches. We drove along route 1 and stopped at the parking lots at several of the bridges. They usually have observation points, walking bridges you can go out on, or rocky shorelines that are fun for exploring. We ate at Harriette’s which is a MUST. The Key Lime muffin is absolutely to die for. They serve it to you warmed up with its key lime filling all warm and oozy.

When we got to the Seven Mile Bridge, we stopped to walk on the old railway bridge that has been there since 1912.

We camped for one night at Boyds Key West Campground. The spaces were TINY but we had a spot right on the bay so it was fun to wake up and look out at the sunrise over the water.

At the very end of Key West is Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park. This was a good beach and a great place to hang our hammocks. We spent most of the day there. Walking the shoreline, soaking in the sun and swinging in hammocks in the shade.

We meandered back to the mainland. Stopping on Big Pine Key at theNational Key Deer Refuge where we saw turtles, alligators, and Key Deer, which are much smaller than the White Tailed Deer we are used to. They are also very friendly. One licked Eliza’s hand! Next we stopped at Robbie’s in Islamorada where we had read about feeding the huge tarpon.  It was $1 per person and $3 for bait and so not worth it. We watched for a while and decided against spending our money. If you walk around at Robbies’s, there is another pier you can go out on where there were fisherman cleaning fish and feeding the pelicans. This was so fun and we spent a lot of time watching the hundreds of birds fighting over fish and clamoring all around the harbor.

Back on the mainland we stopped at a fruit stand called Roberts Is Here. I know, weird name. Amazing place though. They had probably 50 different flavors of fruity milkshakes. We split a strawberry, key lime shake which was absolutely delicious. We browsed through the shop reading about the different types of fruit we had never seen before. They also have a strange petting zoo type area in the back with macaws, huge tortoises, emu, and other animals.

We drove straight through the everglades, stopping to see more alligators, and landed in Naples Beach for sunset. Naples is beautiful. The beach was nearly empty and we sat there enjoying the waves crashing onto the beach and the orange sun setting over the horizon.

Orlando was next. We got up super early and spent the day at Universal Studios exploring the world of Harry Potter. It was even better than I expected it to be and we had a BLAST! If you are a Harry Potter fan this is something you absolutely must do.

On our way back to Asheville we swung by Blue Spring State Park which is a place where hundreds of manatees go for the winter. We watched they floating lazily around the river for a while and began our long trek back to Asheville.

It was an amazing trip. One I hope to repeat again someday soon. The Keys are beautiful and that teal water… there’s nothing like it.