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Old 09-03-2012, 04:05 PM   #1
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Fred and Wilma - 'The Keys' to 'The World' - Day 3

Tuesday 14th August – Lower Keys

Before I start today’s report, a comment made by UKDEB on Day 2 has prompted me to tell the story of Co-Pilot.

On previous visits to Florida, we have used a TomTom app on Gary’s phone. However, this year, Gary had got hold of a copy of Co-Pilot for his Galaxy Tab and thought it might be more accurate and useful for the journeys we were planning. I am sure many of you are aware that you can get all sorts of famous voices to use on the various SatNavs and I had asked Gary if he could get something similar for Co-Pilot. That wasn’t possible but we were sat one evening going through the various voice options available. Each new voice, when selected, would say the words “Welcome to Co-Pilot” until the one female voice, clearly programmed to pronounce everything phonetically, who announced ‘Welcome to Coppilot”. We thought it was absolutely hilarious. Deb’s comment about my mistyping of Co-Pilot as Copilot and the fact that she was reading it as ‘coppalot’ reminded me of the story and made me laugh all over again. Simple things….

So, back to Day 3…

I was shocked and stunned to discover it was 7.35 when I woke up this morning. I guess all this rest and relaxation is good for me Today, we planned to explore the Lower Keys and had a few places in mind we wanted to visit. First stop, though, was breakfast at ‘The Wooden Spoon’, Marathon.

The Wooden Spoon

I wonder how this place got its name

We sat at the counter and everything was cooked fresh in front of us. It was fascinating to watch how the chef and servers juggled all the individual orders so each table’s food was delivered together.

Daniel claimed he was ‘starving’ which, apparently, was my fault since I denied him dessert the previous night. He proceeded to order the ham and cheddar omelette with breakfast potatoes and toast. To be fair, he ate all of the omelette and toast but didn’t like the potatoes.

A big breakfast

I was tempted to try the pancakes but ended up with the standard fare of bacon and eggs. Sadly, I didn’t like the potatoes as they were very ‘oniony’. The rest was good, though, and it came with a huge biscuit. I’ve never liked biscuits, always expecting them to be sweet like scones and, despite it being very soft and flaky, I really didn’t like this one either.

Yummy eggs and bacon, shame about the potatoes

It’s not a biscuit, it’s a sugar-free scone

Gary, true to form, did order the pancakes. Unable to decide, he opted for one blueberry and one banana. They looked delicious. I couldn’t tell you what they tasted like, though, since GARY DOESN’T SHARE FOOD!

They’re MY pancakes

We paid the check ($31 inc tip). Would we return? Maybe, but our breakfast the next day would top this one (and all of the breakfasts we had in the Keys). Back on the Overseas Highway, we headed south to Big Pine Key. I will spare you more pictures of the road and sea, however I will post one picture of my favourite ‘key’.

Pigeon Key

I loved how there was only one way in and one way out – and only on foot, by bicycle or by boat. Had it not been so unbearably hot, I would have loved to have walked to it. I can imagine it must be a bit of a pain living there though.

We stopped at the Key Deer Visitors Centre, where we used the restrooms and picked up some leaflets. The staff were very friendly and helpful, telling us the best places to spot deer and other wildlife. They gave us a list of the animals, birds and other wildlife to be found in the area, with a key to indicate how common they were. Daniel was very excited to see an Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake featured on the list and marked as ‘Common’. Gary and I not so much We made a donation to the Key Deer Refuge fund and set off for Blue Hole with our maps and leaflets.

The Blue Hole is an abandoned limestone quarry. The rock material removed from the quarry was used to build many of the roads on Big Pine Key, as well as some of Henry Flagler’s overseas railroad. It is now a beautiful little area, home to a variety of wildlife. We arrived at Blue Hole and there was only one other car in the parking lot so it looked like it would be fairly quiet. As it was, the other people there were just leaving so we had the place to ourselves. It was eerily quiet, with very little traffic noise and just the chirping of birds and the occasional noise from the water.

General Blue Hole Pictures

We wandered around the path to the left of the Blue Hole and all of a sudden Daniel said he could see a deer. I didn’t quite believe him but, lo and behold, a deer came wandering through the bushes towards us. It was so surreal. It got closer and closer until it was standing just a few feet in front of us.

Is that a deer?

Yes, yes it is

Then, just as suddenly as it arrived, it wandered off into the bushes again.


We wandered back and spotted a bird sitting by the water’s edge, which looked a bit like a kingfisher, although we still haven’t been able to identify it.

Unidentified bird

There are resident alligators at Blue Hole too, however the only sign we saw was a couple of pairs of eyes toward the centre of the sinkhole. That was good enough for me.

We got back into the car and drove over to No Name Key, stopping at the famous No Name Pub for a drink and snack.

The pub with no name

The pub is famous for its pizza, which looked and smelled great but, after the big breakfast we’d eaten, we just weren’t that hungry. We took seats at the bar and ordered a portion of cheese fries and diet cokes all round.

Ooey, gooey cheesy fries

The No Name Pub was very atmospheric, with $1 bills pinned literally to every available space of wall and ceiling. It was pretty dark inside but that just added to the atmosphere. The check came to $10.74 ($13 with tip).

Oh, what an atmosphere

Back in the car, we drove to the end of No Name Key. Just as we were turning around to drive back, another deer walked right past the car and down to the water. It didn’t seem at all disturbed or bothered by our presence and, as we sat watching, it actually wandered closer to the car.

Fancy seeing you here

We saw a couple more deer on the way back through No Name Key, then we drove back up to the end of Big Pine Key to the two walking trails. One of the guys working at the Key Deer Centre had advised us that the trails had been badly damaged by forest fires a little while ago and so they didn’t look quite the same as they normally would. We chose to do the Jack C Watson trail, the longer of the two, at just under a mile. We were the only ones there and, again, it was slightly surreal. There was very little noise at all. It was a lovely walk, although very hot, as the outside temperature was well into the 90s.

Jack C Watson Trail

All alone

Well, not quite

Continued in the next post…
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Old 09-03-2012, 04:08 PM   #2
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When we finished the walk, the pool was calling so we drove back to the resort. After a quick change, we were soon poolside and chilling (except Daniel who doesn’t know how to chill). I enjoyed an Electric Lemonade from our friendly poolside server (very expensive at $16.32 inc 18% tip).

Expensive blue drink

After a couple of hours, we called it a day and returned to the room for showers and fresh clothes. We had decided to venture into Marathon for dinner and had seen an interesting-looking place earlier called Bilbo’s BBQ & Steakhouse. A quick search on Tripadvisor had produced positive reviews so that was our venue for tonight’s meal.

Some bonus pictures of the resort

It was a short drive from the resort and we were soon seated in the almost-empty restaurant. It was still fairly early though so I wasn’t overly worried. Again, it was another of those unimposing places that look like nothing special from the outside but the inside was smart and nicely decorated.


Our server was super-friendly and couldn’t do enough for us. She told us that the smoked meats were the house speciality, smoked on the premises, so we ordered on that basis as follows:

Appetiser – Cheese sticks (obviously)

Gary – Smoked pork platter with mash and beans
Joh – ½ Smoked chicken with fries
Daniel – Smoked brisket sandwich

Without a doubt, this was the best meal we’d had since arriving in Florida. The cheese sticks were different to the standard mozzarella sticks, in that they were battered instead of breaded. They were crispy, hot and gooey inside. Daniel and I polished them all off in record time.

Cheese stick-y yumminess

The chicken was juicy and flavourful, with just a hint of smokiness. Gary allowed me just a taste of his pulled pork and, again, it was truly delicious. Neither of us managed to get anywhere near Daniel’s sandwich before it disappeared into his little tummy. He managed to polish off a fair portion of my chicken and some fries too.

Beefy brisket sandwich

This little piggy tasted yummy

Chook and chips

If anything, the only slight negative was the lack of choice for dessert. Either blondie or brownie ice-cream sundae. Since both contained walnuts, these were a no-go for both me and Daniel, however our waitress helpfully suggested that there was a place called Sweet Savannahs just next door that served “the most wonderful ice-cream and cupcakes”. Well, with a recommendation like that, who are we to refuse. The check was $41.20 but we left $55 since our waitress had been so sweet and helpful.

Sweet Savannahs was, more or less right next door, just a few steps away. It was a cute little place, very small and packed to the brim with people.

Sweet by name and sweet by nature

The line soon dispersed, though, as most people were just drooling over the cupcakes or deciding what ice-cream flavour they would like. I wasn’t feeling ice-cream so decided on a Chocolate-Covered Key Lime Cupcake. Gary opted for a 2-scoop peanut butter ice-cream with hot fudge sauce. And Daniel chose the 2-scoop Rocky Road with caramel sauce and Oreo crumbs. Altogether, the cost was $12 including tip.

Fudgy peanut-butter sundae

Great combo!

The cupcake, sadly, was a little warm and was quite messy to eat but it tasted great. The key lime curd in the middle was tart and zingy and the key lime frosting was super sweet and buttery.


Dissected for your viewing pleasure

Overall, this place was a definite winner and somewhere we would definitely visit again (after eating dinner at Bilbo’s of course).

Back into the car and heading North again on the US1. We stopped at a gas station to fill up. $55 to fill the tank – what a bargain! It always makes me laugh to hear the Americans moaning about the price of gas Next, we popped into Winn Dixie and bought some Pepsi Max, Naproxen and Tylenol.

Since we still hadn’t seen a ‘Keys sunset’ (both evenings we’d been here had been too cloudy), we stopped at a little pull-in point just north of Marathon. It was a little cloudy but still very pretty. We took a few pictures ourselves but then spotted a family nearby taking some pictures so asked them to take one of us. The husband was very funny. He kept saying ‘just one more’ and getting closer and closer to us with the camera. Meanwhile, we were stood right on the edge of the pier and his wife joked that he would back us off and into the water if he wasn’t careful. We got some great shots though.

Me and my boy

Happy families

Love my boys

Back at the hotel, we decided to pack so we could get an early start in the morning. Daniel had really bad heat rash and was suffering terribly so he took a tablet and went to bed. He was asleep as soon as his head touched the pillow. Meanwhile, Gary and I finished the packing and were in bed by 10.

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Old 09-03-2012, 04:19 PM   #3
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Absolutely amazing .... how come we missed all those delectable food places when we were there. The ice cream sundaes look amazing. It all looks amazing !!
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Old 09-03-2012, 04:32 PM   #4
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Ah lovely family photos at the end.
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Old 09-03-2012, 05:48 PM   #5
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You visited all the places I remember - loved the pics of no name pub - brough back great memories.
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Old 09-04-2012, 01:46 AM   #6
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All caught up now! I'm really loving your reviews so far, and it's cool seeing a bunch of parts of Florida that I've never been to before. That key lime pie with the meringue topping looks incredible, and all the scenery is so beautiful.

Can't wait to read more!
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Old 09-04-2012, 02:45 AM   #7
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OK, you where right we will definitely we eating at Bilbo's and going next door for ice creams. I see daniel was playing the triangle game from Cracker Barrell again, has he mastered it yet?
You are giving us so many good ideas for our trip. can't wait for the next post.
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Old 09-04-2012, 06:04 AM   #8
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I'm absolutely loving your TR so far! You really have a way with words, everything described so well and with good humour! Maybe you should look into writing that novel you mentioned before Now I want to go to the Keys!! Can't wait til you guys get to the World
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Old 09-04-2012, 07:53 AM   #9
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Oh my goodness what delicious looking food - starting with Gary's pancakes and finishing the day with those smoked meats and sundaes - absolute heaven.

Lovely day - just my sort of thing eating lots of scrummy food, looking at wildlife and finishing with a sunset - you lucky things. Great pictures of everything

Can't wait for the next instalment

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Old 09-04-2012, 08:35 AM   #10
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loving this!!



Aaron does (but sulks afterwards!!)

Also OMG, THAT was an Expensive blue drink!!

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Old 09-05-2012, 02:19 AM   #11
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Fab day, love the sunset pics you all look so relaxed. We really must put the keys on our to do list.
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Old 09-06-2012, 09:38 AM   #12
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Another brilliant day, and another fine, detailed trippie! And I'm now hungry for some reason!!!

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Old 09-06-2012, 05:48 PM   #13
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I reckon your mistyping must have been a subconscious thing!

You're certainly visiting plenty of Triple D/Man v Food style joints. The Wooden Spoon looks fab. Even more so, the No Name Pub. I'm with Gary on the non-food sharing thing. That's not to say I don't get major food envy, though. In fact, I invented the concept!

Fantastic to have Blue Hole to yourselves. It reminds me very much of the Tibet-Butler Nature Preserve on the Apopka Vineland Rd in Orlando. Like you, we were the only people there when we visited.

After a quick change, we were soon poolside and chilling (except Daniel who doesn’t know how to chill). I enjoyed an Electric Lemonade from our friendly poolside server (very expensive at $16.32 inc 18% tip).
I was telling Matt about your trip earlier today. His observations were that it sounds great, but (a) he's not sure how well it would work with a child in tow, and (b) he imagines it's expensive. I think we know where Matt's priorities lie!

Bilbo's definitely looks like a step up. All those smokey BBQ meats look and sound delicious. Even the cheese sticks have got me salivating (melted cheese is one of my favourite foods of all time, but cheese sticks don't do it for me for some reason). What a bonus to experience the dessert place, too. Winner, winner, chicken dinner! (As a certain Mr Fieri would say.) Some beautiful family sunset shots, too. A perfect evening, in all.

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Old 09-15-2012, 08:19 AM   #14
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Lovely day

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Old 09-29-2012, 04:42 AM   #15
Repeat after me....I LOVE CROC's, I LOVE CROC's, I LOVE CROC's!!!!!!
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Joh another lovely day..wow that drink was expensive! Love the pics at the end
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