Friday, July 21, 2017

We'll Get There Fast So We Can Take It Slow: The Florida Keys

We're really racking up the miles on our Southwest Rapid Rewards accounts this week. This is the third flight in that time span, this time from Houston's Hobby Airport to Fort Lauderdale.

It's an early pickup from the hotel so we forgo breakfast there to get it at the airport. Unfortunately, least the terminal we're not one of those that has a decent, sit-down breakfast place to relax it. It's yogurt and fruit in the terminal waiting area.

Southwest again steps up to the plate with helpful access to the plane and a pleasant, on-time flight. A little over two hours later, we're deplaning in Florida.

While the flight was just peaches and cream, the car rental counter not so much. About 50 people in line with two agents checking in at a counter that was built to accommodate at least a dozen. 

Eventually, video terminals were set up so agents in remote areas could check us in online. My agent was in Arizona. 

It was a short stroll from there to pick up our Grand Caravan which, although nice, was not as nice as the two Nissan Rogues we had in Texas. A touch more expensive, too.

Programming our hotel's location into the GPS, we follow the on-board voice of reason to be on our way. Soon, we are not on our way too well. On the Reagan Turnpike, which has billboards along the way calling itself the "Less Stressway," we pay for the privilege of sitting in non-moving traffic. 

Eventually, we clear the clogged traffic south of Miami and finally get moving. At Homestead, the turnpike ends. The road narrows, and we get into the swampy area of south Florida and signs warning of crocodiles crossing the road before we get to the first bridge taking us from the mainland to the first of Florida's southern islands, the Keys.

This first key is to be our base for the next week, Key Largo.

After a couple of hours, we end up at today's destination, the Hampton Inn in Key Largo near the top end of the Florida Keys (at the top I referred to our accumulating points on Southwest, I should also note that our Hilton HHonors account is getting a very healthy boost these couple of weeks).

Not able to book an accessible room here, I took a chance after getting the details of the regular rooms and booked us a junior suite. It'll do, barely, at it seems they took a regular room, crammed a king sized bed along with a sofabed, a table and chairs, and a small coffee and microwave center. 

The bathroom will be adequate, though, and the manager sends up a bath chair for Tim.

Being on the beach, the room and the hotel in general smell a little musty but there's a nice beach here, a pool with a lift, and a tiki bar separating the two.

It's not near as nice as the hotel we just left in Houston but it is nice enough. It'll do.

One thing I promised Letty when we came here, she can eat as much seafood as she wanted (I'm not a fish lover) while we were here so our first stop is to go across the street for dinner.

"Street" is a relative term here. It is the only road to cross, indeed the only road through Key Largo, but that road is the heavily traveled Overseas Highway. It takes a little patience and planning but we do eventually find a spot to cross over between traffic.

Dinner is at the Catch, a laid back diner with a beach vibe to it although it's not on the beach side of the road. 

Letty has a very nice crab cake dinner, Tim goes with fish and chips, while I get the cheeseburger. We just missed happy hour so the beer is full price but it's still very delicious and reasonable.

After the afternoon of traveling, we retire back at the Hampton to relax and create a plan of attack for the rest of our time in south Florida.

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Darryl Musick
Copyright 2017 - All Rights Reserved

Photos by Letty Musick
Copyright 2017 - All Rights Reserved

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