Florida Day Nine. Key West. My Last Day Exploring Key West . I Hope To Return Soon

Florida Day Nine. Key West. My Last Day Exploring Key West . I Hope To Return Soon

Key West Day Nine morning (13 of 45)
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It was  Wednesday, and sadly,  my last day in Key Weston on my recent visit to South Florida.. As usual,  I was up early  looking for another place to watch the sunrise.  I decided to drive to Smathers Beach on the south,   Atlantic Ocean side of the island.

When I arrived there were some ominous clouds over the ocean and it looked that was a storm brewing in the distance. .  A strong wind blew in form the sea but it was a warm wind, temperatures were in the upper 70’s. 

I walked along the beach  and found there were a lot of folks, walking, running, fishing or just enjoying the stormy  skies over the  beach. 

The storm clouds obscured the sunrise, 

but I continued my walk along the beach for about a 1/2 mile,

observing the setting,  almost full moon, 

and the  sculptures  near the beach

The only wildlife I saw a a brown pelican flying along the shore. 

The storm missed us, and, after my walk  along the  beach, I was off  to explore some more of the lesser know areas of Key West looking for migratory birds and other wildlife. I  drove about a mile  to the Fran Ford White Crowned Pigeon Preserve located  near the airport on Government Road. 

The preserve is located in a mangrove  forest and salt flat across from the airport. I parked along the airport fence, 

and walked into the salt flats. 

I was advised to be careful in this area since there were a lot of homeless people living here.  I found a lot of evidence of this and  walked into a couple of  folks sleeping in the mangroves but they were harmless.  I didn’t see any birds or other wildlife here  but I did see some interesting plants and flowers including this  prickly pear cactus, and

invasive blackwood, 

damiana flowers and chandelier plants and flowers. I am relying on my iPhone Picture This app for these identifications. I wish I could learn all of the interesting plants I come across on my travels. 

I left the White Crowned  Pigeon Preserve and walked along Government road to the airport communication towers  and Little Hamaca Park. It is reported that hawks, ospreys and bald eagles roost on the towers but there were none there on my hike. 

I did see one northern cardinal singing in a tree, 

and this northern curly tailed lizard on a tree branch. 

There was a lot more signs of the homeless folks living in the mangrove forest. Picnic tables had fast food, cloths and other items not found at picnics. 

And there were some interesting “home” decorations along the paths into the mangroves 

I came to a  trail and boardwalk and followed it into the mangrove woodlands

and noticed the salt water evaporating on the mangrove leaves. The mangroves are able to extract the salt from the water allowing them to tolerate the salty conditions found near the ocean. 

I roamed in the mangrove slat flats  finding three more campsites with homeless folks, one actually had a mailbox. 

My exploration in the dense mangroves paid off when I saw a pair of the endangered white crowned pigeons ,

landing in a treetop. The quickly flew off. These pigeons feed on poison wood fruit and are endangered due to loss of habitat. 

I followed the trail to a canal across form some residences ,

where I saw a  laughing sea gull fly overhead,

I  then began my hike back to my SUV. and saw   the seaplane the flew me to the Dry Tortugas returning from it’s morning flight. 

I decided to  return to the Key West Nature Preserve. 

I walked the boardwalk to the beach

but there wasn’t much wildlife here either, 

just a few  least sandpipers and,

a willet.   Here is a link to a gallery on my blog website with some more of the birds and wildlife I saw on my hikes Florida Day  Nine . Key West morning birds April 5 2023 

I walked back to the Key West Wildlife Center and Indigenous Park and found  it was closed. 

It was my last day in Key West  so I decided to drive into the heavy traffic near Duval Street for breakfast. It took a while to find a parking place but I finally did and walked to a number of restaurants finding long lines in front of all of them. I finally got a seat in one but after waiting for 15 minutes and not seeing a waitress or waiter I left. 

I walked past Ana’s Cuban Cafe and found the line that was there earlier was gone and I saw and had the best cup of coffee in Key West and w wholesome and delicious breakfast. This is a link to another gallery with some more photos from my morning hikes. Florida Day Nine Key West morning hikes April 5 2023 

It was now near noon when I finished my breakfast. I decided to return my car to the airport and then took a taxi to my hotel. I spent the afternoon packing, editing photos and checking in with my office. I wanted to have a nice dinner my last night in Key West and was told the Blue Heaven was a great restaurant with delicious food and a lot of history. . I was also told it was once one of Ernest Hemingway’s hangout and now Jimmy Buffet’s often is seen here.

So I called for reservations and was told they are booked for three weeks. However, they allow limited seating on a first come first serve basis and the woman recommended I arrive early, when the restaurant opened at 5 p.m.,  and I may get a seat.  I took the hotel shuttle to the Blue Heaven and found a small lines of folks waiting to be seated. After about a 15 minute wait I was told I’d be seated in about 15 minutes.. I usually don’t wait  at restaurants  but this place looked interesting. 

 The line got a lot longer  during my 15 minutes wait. 

I walked around the neighborhood,  observing many of the homes decorated for Easter. 

I was told it would be a few more minutes when I  got back to the restaurant but it was worth the wait. 

I learned so much more about the history of the property. Cats and roosters roamed  the courtyard under the canopy of ancient trees while  I enjoyed a delicious meal. I had the sautéed yellowtail snapper  with pasta, citrus beurre blanc and tropical fruit. 

Of course I had to have desert and I chose the Banana Heaven. It was  ripe bananas sauteed with dark rum, butter, brown sugar and orange juice then poured over Betty’s banana bread and topped with flamingo crossing Tahitian vanilla bean ice cream. It was heavenly I was stuffed. 

It was a great last meal on my trip.  I returned to my hotel by cab and watched he sun set one last time over the Florida Bay.  I was in bed early, and took an early flight back home to Northeastern Pennsylvania the next morning. I didn’t see as many migratory birds as I had hoped on this trip  but it was still another great adventure. I will be back next year,  maybe even sooner.  I love South Florida, the Everglades and the Florida Keys.

The best education you’ll get is traveling. Nothing teaches you more than exploring the world and accumulating experiences.”
Mark Patterson