The whole week after Bahia Honda Finnley and I looked forward to and longed for the following weekend at Long Key State Park. It was so nice have something to think about during our daily grinds. The prior week I had ordered a new backpacking tent so we were excited to get to use it at this park. It's a Big Agnes Seedhouse 3 person and only weighs about 4lbs! A refreshing change from our 8 person, 38lb tent. While I love my huge excessive dome, it's just not practical for the day trips, hot weather, and plane travel of Finnley and I's camping future. I also ordered some Therm-a-rest camper’s sleeping pads because our huge excessive 2 person cot wouldn't fit in the new tent.
When Friday came along (also Valentine’s Day) Finnley and I were both bursting with excitement and anticipation. I felt so happy, I almost felt like it couldn't be true. I got anxiety because I thought something bad was going to happen. However, I managed to talk myself out of it and told myself that I was going to allow myself to be happy and I ended up feeling better. Finnley and I had planned on getting an early start so that we could go down to Key West first and then back down to the park. I woke up at 7:30am and tried my best to get out of bed, but my Lola was being so cute and every time I tried to leave she would get upset so I had to lay with her for a little while. It also didn't help that I was so tired my eyes were crossing.
I had wanted to leave by 9:00am, but ended up leaving around 10:00am instead. This time the drive was ok, but I noticed I was in a weird mood. Finnley drank a Redbull and was talking to me at a million miles an hour and I couldn't take it. I was having anxiety and that was making it worse. I tried to acknowledge it to myself and let him know, but that pretty much caused a fight that lasted until sundown that night. It started out playful with me smacking him in the face with straws, but escalated from there. Finnley didn't feel like driving an extra 2 hours out of the way to Key West just so I could go shop at my favorite store and that's fine, but we had planned on it so I wasn't backing down. He also freaked out every time traffic was slowing down and every time I tried to calm him down because he was driving my car, he just got angrier. I think he was so terrified we were going to get stuck for hours again. The blue water wasn't so relaxing this time. It was rough and the cars air was thick with tension. Everything just looked sad and volatile.
We stopped at Long Key on the way and checked in and checked out the site. It was a lot closer to the beach than Bahia Honda and the water was different. At Bahia Honda the beach was more sand and had waves. This was still glassy water with a floor covered in shmushy algae. It was very beautiful. The water reached as far as my eyes could see. The site was fairly shady and had a picnic table and fire ring. The only thing that was slightly a disappointment was how loud the traffic was. A little after arrival we headed out to Key West. We got there at 3:00pm and went straight to my store. I got some jewelry and we rushed back to the car. I love Key West and wish we could have stayed longer, but the sun was going down soon and we still needed to shop for food.
We made it to Publix with 30 minutes to shop and got in and out right on time. Getting back to camp with 30 minutes of light to spare, we rushed to prepare camp. The new tent was a breeze to set up and we also washed dishes and got to see a bit of the sunset. Finnley started what was supposed to be our romantic Valentine’s Day dinner/ island feast of lobster, shrimp cabobs, and scallops. When the sun went down the tension between me and Finnley dissipated and we slowly got camper cozy as we watched the enormous sherbet moon rise from the glassy waters as it drew moon beams upon. With our bellies full of delicious seafood delight we relaxed and stared out into the ocean together. I decided I should attempt some long exposure shots before I got too tired. I got my camera out and figured out how to use the little remote. I took some pictures of the moon, the fire, and our campsite. They came out pretty cool, but not as cool as I wanted. I have much more to learn about that kind of photography.
Finnley decided to get schwasted so he was pretty entertaining. One time I went to set my camera up behind the tent and I came out and walked towards the fire. Finnley was walking by and jumped back and squared his fists as I walked by. I started cracking up. He said I scared the crap out of him. It was so funny because I wasn't even trying to this time. The rest of the night before bed we sat by the fire and reminisced on last year’s road trip. It's still bittersweet. Sometimes the memories get so far from me, I feel like it never happened, like everything is same as it was before we left, like I could be leaving any second for it. I only have the changes that happened within myself to look fondly on and remind me that it really happened. However, those changes are sometimes hard to see when you’re in the exact same circumstances you were in before as I am. Not to lessen the changes because they are vast and beautiful. I have an innate happiness that never existed before as well as a drive that is insatiable in all the many good and bad ways. I'm finally learning to harness and take advantage of my Type A personality traits instead of despise and discard them.
Because we didn't have the sleeping pads yet we made a bed on the ground with a couple sleeping bags and blankets. Surprisingly it wasn't bad. My butt bone hurt a little in the middle of the night, but nothing more out of my ordinary wake up pains. Finnley slept well too. We woke up a little after sunrise, but still got some pretty pictures and went back to sleep for an hour. It was so cool I didn't even have to get out of the tent to see the sunrise, all I had to do was sit up. It was a beyond beautiful day out.
Finnley started making breakfast and I tried to help, but I was distracted by the beauty all around me. After we ate we decided we would go kayaking. After renting the kayak Finnley took it back to the campsite via the water while I drove back. I wanted to bring my GoPro out there, but I forgot to charge it and I was not happy about that. I had to bring my Iphone instead. We paddled out pretty far because I planned on getting some topless kayaking in and Finnley had his own motives. I remember looking down and watching this reef formation drift behind me so fast I could have been in a car. At that point I got a little nervous, but we were able to paddle back to the coast with some man power. I knew my arms were going to be sore. When we got to the coast the water calmed down. It was nice and clear and tinted in a sea glass green. We paddled to some land that looked like it was a part of the nature trail on the North end of the park. We walked around on the shore for a little. The sand in the shallow water was so mushy it almost trapped Finnley in it because he was wearing sandals. I had to help him out.
We got back on the kayak and headed north. It was cool because there were a lot of trees and a little trail that took you through them. Finnley decided to stand up on the kayak to see what all the raving about SUP paddle boarding was about and he ended up liking it a lot. He said he could see everything, all the fishes and what not. He made me stand so I could see too. It was pretty cool, but felt a little unstable. When he stood back up he saw a baby nurse shark and later I saw another one, but it kind of looked like a hammerhead shark. It was really cute. Afterwards we headed south a little and then back to drop the kayak off. We walked back to camp and went to pay for the 2 hours and return the vests and paddles.
When we got back it was about time to start cleaning up, but I really didn't want to go. I really love Long Key, better than Bahia Honda, and if I could go every weekend I would! While Finnley starting packing up I tanned a little and took it all in. We were out of there around 12:30pm and went to go eat at the Islamorada restaurant by Bass Pro. There was actually some sort of Chili Festival going on and I wanted to go, but Finnley didn't because there was a 30 minute wait at the restaurant and he said the buzzer wouldn't work over there. Can you say Party Pooper? We went to this fish market instead and he bought some smoked fish. We went outside and ate some until the buzzer went off. We ordered a lot of food. It was definitely a seafood feast kind of weekend. We got the fish dip appetizer which was amazing! Finnley got the sampler for his meal and I got coconut shrimp. We were both really sad to be leaving. I wish I could stay there forever. It's like paradise. I have the camping bug now worse than ever and I plan on scratching that itch as much as possible. Here's to continuing the adventures!