It seemed like just yesterday that my beloved travel partner, Breeah, and I stood on the ice together, both our feet squarely north of the 49th parallel but still very much in the U.S. of A.
You can read all about our experience at Minnesota’s famed Northwest Angle, situated at the top of the contiguous United States.
It was a few short months before that where we had visited our first extreme point – Maine’s Quoddy Head State Park, the easternmost point of land in the States, and a truly wonderful park at that (Breeah and I still reminisce about this little roadside stop en route to New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island).
Well, a few weeks ago we finally managed to make it down to the Florida Keys and Key West, home of the third “corner” of this great country. We’ve been talking about a trip down there for ages, and, lo and behold, it presented itself in the form I know best – a weekend “roady” escape.
Talk about whirlwind, a quick recap:
Fly in late on a Friday night to FORT MYERS! Yes, FORT MYERS, a shade over five hours drive from Key West on a no traffic, non-stop drive. No matter, it made for an interesting Saturday as we visited the Everglades Gulf Coast visitor center in Everglades City, then drove through the Big Cypress National Preserve, hitting up both centers and catching site of a couple manatees and more than a few alligators. Heck, we even had time to stop and take in a nature trail.
All that and we still had to drive into the Keys and check into our hotel, the Edgewater Lodge, an awesome little hideaway tucked comfortably in the middle of the Keys between Islamorada and Marathon. Actually, we drove into Marathon and had lunch at The Island Fish Co. before hitting up Key Colony Beach just south of that. Then we drove back to Edgewater and checked in just before 4 p.m.
Are you out of breath reading all that? I am… That’s exactly how these weekends run for us sometimes. We tend to cram, cram, cram and it seems to work for us. I never really feel that we’ve sold ourselves short. Heck, it beats wasting away in front of the TV for two days (although one tends to enjoy those kind of weekends right after a hectic travel weekend)…
Anyway, let’s get right back to it. We decided that after watching the 6 p.m. sunset by three-mile bridge, that we’d make the night drive into Key West and stroll around. Oh, here a pro tip: don’t underestimate Key’s driving time. Yeah, it looks like nothing on the map, but driving it, especially when its far less scenic at night, feels like forever. I mean seriously, eyeball Long Key to Key West on Google Maps and it really feels like its just down the road. Sure, it’s only an hour and change, but you’re tricked into thinking its only a few minutes away…
Of course, one must walk down Duval Street if they are in Key West, just for the sheer “wow” factor. Let’s just say I don’t recommend a trip to this part of Key West for the feint hearted. It’s not really our scene either, but it was fun to take a look around for ourselves. And then on to the Southernmost point…
It’s funny, this whole article is entitled “Southernmost U.S.A.” and yet I don’t have a picture at all of the marker that tells one that they are at the Southernmost point (and yes, there is a very famous marker, look it up). There are many reasons for this lack of a photo …
- It was nighttime
- There were a bunch of people hanging around it who likely had a little too much to drink already
- You can easily find this one online
- I’m kind of protesting this one. Unfortunately, Ballast Key is the true southernmost point in the U.S. yet it’s privately owned by the king of the Keys himself, David Wolkowsky (on the market for a cool 15.8 mil if you’re interested). A couple years ago, I actually tried to dig up Mr. Wolkowsky’s e-mail address in an attempt to get an invite but never heard back. The things I try to pull off…
- There are many points in and around Key West itself that are actually further south than the marker.
- After considering all this, and the fact that we still had to drive back that night, we decided just to drive by the marker.
How did we top this all off on Sunday? How about a visit to Bahia Honda State Park and the National Key Deer Preserve (home to the tiniest, cutest North American deer you’ll ever see) before hitting up The Island Fish Co for some fried Key Lime pie. After that we still had a few hours drive back to Fort Myers and caught the entirety of one of the worst Super Bowls ever before settling in before an early morning flight back home.
58 hours, 700+ miles, four counties, two national park sites and adding the third extreme point to our U.S. travel collection = another successful roady-trip!