Tuesday, March 25, 2014

The Keys Disease: Part 1

Last month in a last effort to find a place to camp for Valentine’s day with my Finnley, I got on my determined finders face that I often get in these dire vacation situations and went onto Reserve America at work in a scamper. Mind you, everywhere worth going had been booked the previous day, leaving my past plans of camping in Ocala that weekend with my cuzzy, dead. However, as I browsed the pages I came across a rare and majestic opening at Long Key State Park in the Keys. My scamper increased tenfold and my fingers flew to book the site before I could even process what was happening. I was so happy I couldn't stop smiling. It was definitely one of those cheek sore moments.

As I was trying to focus and get back to work I started thinking "damn I'm feeling lucky" and it came to me to check for the current weekend. As the first page popped up I see Bahia Honda State Park lit in a blue that I have never seen for this park before. There was one site available. I got dizzy, my eyes blurred. If Long Keys availability was rare and majestic, Bahia Honda's was the King Unicorn of Never-never land. 

Fireworks, confetti, and star ships flew from all my facial orifices. I thought I might explode as a direct result and consequence of filling up with that much joy. I was at max cap. I was literally Will Ferrell in Elf when his boss announced Santa was coming. Slow panting, mumbling, and all. I couldn't remember another time I had been this happy. I never get this lucky. People literally wait to camp at Bahia Honda for months. Anyhow, I tried to ask Finnley if he wanted to go, but he didn't answer...so I booked it anyway. I figured even if he was mad, he wouldn't regret it once we were there. After-all, this was known as South Florida's best beach.

So instead of the promised Friday date Finnley and I had planned we both packed our gear up and went off to bed in anticipation of the much needed adventure filled weekend ahead. We got an early start the next morning and finished off our packing. When I got to Finnley's house we went to the grocery store to buy our meals. By noon we were off to the Keys with a salty breeze and the close to comatose inducing blue water ahead of us.

The drive down was as relaxing as usual. I always compare it to the 2 hour drive to my cousins house or the 3 hour drive to my grandma’s because though it is longer, at least to Key West, it feels shorter than both of those drives. A wave hits you the second you start seeing the glassy turquoise water. Reggae starts flooding your mind, the car windows come down, the suns shinning in your sunglasses, the sky a glowing blue, the smell of salt and sunscreen wisp under your nose. Basically, all your cares slip away into the island waters.

However partial I may be to mountains, there is just something innate within me that feels nurtured by an island setting. I feel at home. I always relate well with the island life. I have fantasies of being an island girl walking through my fruitful gardens of palm, mango, pineapple, avocado, and star fruit trees, collecting my ruby treasures, barefoot with some sort of colorful ankle length skirt sweeping across my feet and checkered sunbeams kissing my cheeks.

We arrived at Bahia Honda around 3 in the afternoon and checked in. When we got to our campsite we were both beyond pleased to see the ocean tide right behind us. We even had a little pathway that took us to the beach (not all the campsites have this). The site itself was a bit small for our excessive 8 man tent so we had to rework the layout a little, but all was well. At first Finnley was disappointed because there was no fire ring at the sight, just a grill, but we ended up making a fire in the grill later that night anyway and it worked out pretty nice. Our setup went swifter than usual because the stakes were easy to get in due to the campsites are in sand and we didn't need to put the rainfly on because weather was supposed to be clear.

Finnley decided to start making his clams and I went to check out the beach. It was pretty, but there was a lot of seaweed which I'm not used to seeing at the beaches up north. There were also rocks all over the surf, but they looked cool. It definitely wasn't the swimming area, but I can't complain about a view of endless horizon. I took a bunch of pictures and tried out my new lenses for my iPhone. Finnley enjoyed his clams and we went for a walk. As we walked further north the beach cleared up a lot and it looked pristine. The white sand was soft and comforting even under the 75 degree water.

 After our walk we relaxed at camp and talked and just enjoyed our surroundings. I felt like the two in Blue Lagoon. It felt like our island. I found it interesting and pleasant that although I knew this campground was literally full I didn't see that many people and it didn't seem to be crowded which was impressive. The sun was going to be setting within the hour and we had plans to watch it, but Finnley got a little too excited and we ended up making love as the sun set instead. We managed to see the last couple minutes.

Finnley made us dinner when it became dark. I had ginormous shrimp and he had a skirt steak. I always love the organic taste of seafood near the ocean. When our bellies were full we sat by the fire and talked and relaxed. It was so wonderful being back snuggling under the stars and feeling that camp grim all over me. However, I started feeling ill as the night progressed. I had a bad headache and felt in a daze. I think I was extremely dehydrated as I often am. I really didn't feel right. I had to chug a bottle of water and lay down. Finnley tried to make me feel better and give me a massage. It helped a little, but I still couldn't get up.

This was a disappointment because I didn't want to go to bed at 9:00pm. I had plans of astrophotography and whatever other night adventures came to mind, but my body was not having any of it. Finnley came to bed a little after me and we fell asleep, but I ended up waking up at 11:00pm wide awake or so I thought. This continued all throughout the night. I'd wake up, get up, feel dizzy and confused, and go back to sleep. I had so much anxiety because I thought something was wrong with me. I had strange dreams all night one of which was of a raccoon biting my hand and because I was in such a daze I had to think really hard if it was real or not. I determined because my hand didn't hurt that it probably didn't happen.

By morning I felt quite drowsy, but it was an improvement from the night before. We got out of cot early enough for sunrise. As we walked down the pathway towards the ocean we saw dolphin fins pop up right in front of the sun and continue to swim along the shore. The no-see-ums were really bad and we forgot bug spray, but we managed to watch the sun come up. It was as beautiful as it always is. 

I love sunsets, but there is just something about a sunrise. It's like a medallion for hope, ever symbolizing that sentiment and newness, changes, and the bright futures of us all. It is the Grand Marshal of optimism and positivity; it is the cup half full. I took trillions of pictures and we got ready for breakfast. The no-see-ums were so bad at this point I literally had to fan them away from Finnleys legs with a paper plate while he was cooking.

During breakfast a fellow camper came over to talk to us about our tent. He admired it and said he also had a Cabela's tent, but a smaller one. While we were talking two crazy ibis, a red winged black bird and some other birds came over to say hi (and stare at our food). 

After breakfast we went to check out the other side of the park. We walked around and on the old railroad and took lots of pictures. Finnley really wanted to kayak, but I wasn't in the mood because we didn't have much time left there. So instead we went back to the beach by our camp and played in the water and took fun pictures with the GoPro. I had never really used it in water except on the Maid of the Mist so it was cool getting to see it really in action.

We started packing up around 12:00pm and were out of there before 1:00pm. We planned on going to lunch at one of the cool restaurants along the overseas highway, but ended up running into some monstrous traffic. We were dead stopped before the Long Key Bridge. Eventually we heard there was a head on collision involving 5 cars. We decided it would be better to turn around at this point. We went looking for a place to eat, but all the cool places were packed so we just ended up at KFC. We drove back and ended up sitting in traffic for another 2 hours on the bridge. I figured at least we had a good view. We got home around 8:00pm that night exhausted, but with the sweet sea smell reminder of the weekend to come in Long Key State Park all over us.

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