Getting in the Groove at the Keys Just as We Prep to Leave

We have one last week here of our six-week stay, and I’m realizing how much I’m going to miss this place. Yes, it’s crowded with tourists, and the new highly-contagious variant of the virus is here more than most anywhere in the U.S. So it’s definitely time for us to move on. But look at what we’ve been enjoying.


Yesterday we packed our bags with snorkel gear, a towel, and our handy State Park pass and biked over to Bahia Honda. The beach was crowded and the people loud. (Why do people yell when they’re right next to each other? Why do people play their radio when other people—who do not want to hear their radio—are right beside them? Why, why, why, I ask!)

But, oh, the water. Bahia Honda has a bit of live coral, and though it’s not anything like a vibrant reef, it’s enough to support a few bright tropical fish and plants. We saw blue and green cow fish, a ray swim right by our feet, and a few schools of larger (unknown) fish just swimming by as we walked in the calm water.

I’ve been lucky to do some stellar snorkeling in the past, most recently with my son in the West Indies, where I floated above the deep reefs for hours, long after Finn got cold and went to read on the beach.

And memorably, Tracy and I took a day trip to Havana (from Costa Rica) just to snorkel, which itself was an adventure as much as the fish we saw on our little private tour. (The top photo is my attempt to recreate one of my favorite photos Tracy took of me snorkeling in Havana, here with all the color matchy poo going on.) And Tracy: that man has been scuba diving and snorkeling all over the world, it seems.

The Keys can’t compare to any of these places because it doesn’t have the awesome reefs, but it still feels blissful to be emerged in this foreign world.

My new mask fit, my snorkel didn’t droop with the dive flag attached (Tracy valiantly put it on his snorkel, which drooped), and I didn’t need fins because the water was so shallow. I just floated above the grasses and coral and sand a couple of feet below me and watched the small scenes of life.

And like I’d outlasted Finn in the West Indies, here I wanted to stay in the water all day long. Tracy biked back to our Key, but I stayed on, walking in the water and looking all around me, enjoying just the sway of the ocean.

I did walk into a school of jellyfish, but they had no tentacles so my bet was they didn’t sting. I learned to avoid them just in case by catching sight of their shadows on the sand under the water, then looking for them at the surface.

I love that idea: Jellyfish shadows. Would be a great name for an ambient music band.

Here’s a good picture of a common fish here: a needle fish. They’re so bright and quick.

And here I am biking home from Bahia Honda, with my snorkel poking out the top of my backpack. I’m sunburned, wearing a bathing suit (why even bother putting on clothes), covered in salt and sand, and feeling thoroughly beachy.


Our cheap little camping grill is a pain, but Tracy is mastering it. Here’s his best triumph: tuna that had been caught that morning, grilled just a bit on the outside. I wish I’d gotten a shot when it was slightly pulled apart, where you can imagine the tenderness and delicate flavor.

We’re low on groceries so he made up some sides: one day it was a cucumber and onion salad in rice vinegar; this day it was a slaw in soy sauce and sesame oil, plus rice with fried garlic slices and nori. That man can cook.


I’m even getting used to my kayak, right when people are interested in buying it. Repeated days out on the water by myself, wandering around and not trying to keep up with Tracy, have helped me improve my paddling. Plus of course freaking out when I see something cool and trying to maneuver back to it again and again. The school of, “Hey, was that a eagle ray?”

Here I’m looking back at the RV park. Right after this shot, someone shouted out at me that my kayak matches the color of the water here. Maybe I should put that in the listing. 🙂


I can’t stop taking pictures of iguanas. Have you ever seen such vibrant green? Oh wait, the water here. The palm leaves. The iguanas.

The Witching Hour

I love that term for the time of day when you’re done with the day but not ready for the night, and the world seems a little wrong. Babies often cry then, and parents get desperate. I get restless. But lately I’ve been walking around the park or riding my bike, getting glances of other people gathering under their awnings for cocktails, firing up their grills for dinner, standing around the fish cleaning station talking about their day out on the water.

This is a terrible shot of Tracy and me, but it’s proof we’ve been able to make it down the “sunset viewing” pier without running into people (much). The rule of thumb I’ve always followed for the witching hour works here as well: when you feel a little trapped (in your tent, in your small trailer), get out! Go. Even without a plan.

And Banjo

She’s such a character. She’ll ask you to pat her belly all day long, but if you try to look at a spot on it (is that a scab, maybe?) she freaks out and won’t let you. Just try to simply look at her, and she’s all defensive.

She’s the same way about me trying to take a selfie with her. She’s like, “What are you planning to do to me with that camera and why are you so damn close to my face?”

Here are the results of my attempts this morning on our sunrise walk. Banjo at her finest. (Clearly I didn’t bother to brush my hair. We’re a silly couple in the mornings.)

Onward with Prepping to Leave

In the next week we will be:

  • picking up a final grocery and beer order,
  • doing laundry for the last time,
  • placing final online random item orders, because we won’t have a delivery address for a while,
  • changing my kayak listing so it’s clear it’s not in the Keys,
  • giving Tracy a hair and beard trim,
  • washing the kayaks and bikes and loading them back on the truck,
  • rearranging all our crap in the bed of the truck and inside the trailer, ready for the road,
  • packing up the tent and finding places inside for all the stuff that seems to have expanded all over our campsite …

And saying goodbye to this sunny, sandy, salt, beautiful place!

2 thoughts to “Getting in the Groove at the Keys Just as We Prep to Leave”

  1. The snorkeling pics are beautiful. I really like the jellyfish as it looks like an ameba under a microscope. How do you do underwater pics?