Wednesday, January 29, 2014

We Made it to the Keys…Despite a BIG Traffic Jam.


Sunshine Key Rv Resort, Ohio Key, Florida (high 78, low 66)


We left Tampa Monday around 11am, heading south on I-75. All was smooth until we got to Sarasota and then both north and south bound lanes came to a complete standstill. I checked my handy little Florida 511 traffic alert phone app, and it said there was an emergency road repair with lane closures.  Uh-oh.  We moved maybe a half mile in over an hour.  We were worried about the motorhome overheating, and kept a close eye on the engine and transmission temps.   After about an hour we finally got to an exit, where they forced us off the interstate.  Another Uh-oh. In a big motorhome pulling a toad, the last thing you need is an unplanned detour.  Fortunately, once we got off there was a woman cop standing there with a sign with an arrow that directed us right back onto I-75.   It turns out that a tractor trailer dropped his load on the overpass and it damaged the road service so badly that there was an actual hole in the road where you could look down and see the road below. Concrete was falling onto the street below.   Despite the long delay, we were thankful the road was closed and no one was hurt.

Midway campground in the Everglades, is our favorite place to stop on the way to the Keys.  Until recently you couldn’t reserve a site, and you just had to hope something was available.    We had reserved site 21, which was easy to get into, but we had to trim a few tree branches before opening the slides.  Our old favorite site 17 had a pretty big tree that had grown together with the palm tree and made it difficult to get into for a larger rig. 

Midway is an electric only campground.   Perfect to explore the Everglades or just spend a night on the way. 

Map picture


Entrance to Midway Campground

Our site.  

site 21 at Midway

We went for a walk and couldn’t help but notice this really cool camper.

van camper with kayak

Of course, we had to go over and talk to them and ask about their rig. It turns out they are French Canadians (with very cool accents) and have spent the winter in Florida.  Just like us, their favorite place is in the Keys.    Lise and Michel gave us a tour of their cute little home. 

I took a few pictures inside but it is hard to get a proper perspective.

van camper

They have a toilet, cooking facilities, closet, and even hot water.    It’s such a cute rig and the size allows you to be a lot more spontaneous than with these larger rigs. 

The kayak you see is a very long sea kayak.  It fits on the roof when traveling, but has to come down so the roof of the van can lift up in their living area. They have a screen door on the opening. 

We sat and visited with them for awhile and really enjoyed talking with them.  We exchanged Facebook and email info.  Hope to see you again sometime soon Lise and Michel.

oops…picture was blurry.  It was almost dark and I didn’t realize it.

Michel and Lise

The next morning we got up early and headed out to the Oasis visitor center.   We’ve been there many times, but never tire of seeing all the gators, birds and fish that hangout in one place.

It was very foggy, so we drove extra carefully in case any of the rare Florida panthers were out and about.


It wasn’t as foggy at the visitor center.



There were hundreds of these little fish, floating on the top of the water. 


fish in canal alongside road

This one looks like he’s smiling, doesn’t he?

fish in canal alongside road

There were plenty of gators.

gator eye




Plenty of birds.



I thought this next picture was interesting.  I didn’t even realize when I took the photo,  that a gator was in the background.

spider web and gator

These are all wild animals. The alligators are free to come and go.  This just happens to be a place where they congregate.


Notice the rail in the picture below?  Notice how clean it is?  No bug poop anywhere. 

It’s because of this nice volunteer couple, but unfortunately I can not remember their names.  Thanks guys.

volunteer camphosts at Oasis Center at Big Cypress

They have full hook up rv sites behind the visitor center. 

They have been volunteering there for a few years and enjoy it. They are required to work 3 days a week, but said they often work more hours than they are required because there is so much to do.   I asked them about the wildlife programs for the volunteers (thinking of Judy) and they said they have bird counts and things like that all the time.  This might be a good spot for you next year Judy instead of all that snow and ice in Louisiana.  It was in the 80’s yesterday.

We always enjoy our stay in this area but were also anxious to get to they keys, so we reluctantly left to pack up and head south.


As we traveled along the Overseas Highway, we noticed both the bay and the Atlantic were flat calm.  How we wished we had been out on the water instead of driving by.


Overseas Hwy

Up and over the 7 Mile bridge.  Our campground is just down the road.

7 mile bridge

On the way down we passed other rv parks and noticed they were packed full.  When we got to our park, it was much fuller than usual.  I was praying nothing got screwed up with our reservation and that our site was awaiting us.  It was.  We are on site 266 this year because our old preferred sites were unavailable.  As it turns out, I think this one is even better and we even have afternoon shade.

We did a partial set up and went down to the boat storage to check on our little boat.  It was safe and sound and just like we left it. 

Next on the agenda was a visit to the Sunset Bar and Grill for their wonderful sunset celebration.

Wow….was it crowded.  There was no place to sit in the upstairs or downstairs (by the pool) bar.   Al went to the bar and ordered us a drink and I cozied up to a couple who looked like they were leaving.  We talked a while and they left, so we got their seats.  :)   By this time the sun had set, happy hour was over, so people started leaving.  Note to self…go earlier next time!

Despite the crowds it was beautiful as usual.  The upper bar over looks the pool. Beyond the pool is a boat dock and then the Atlantic ocean.

This was our view from the bar. You can see on the right side of the picture the 7 Mile bridge.

happy hour at the Sunset Grill

Maybe I should have edited out the ketchup bottle?

happy hour at the Sunset Grill

The next picture is for our friend Pat.  They even have a soft white sand corn hole area next to the pool.  Pretty nice place to play, with the ocean in the back ground.

happy hour at the Sunset Grill

I don’t know if you can see him, but in front of the huge TV screen is a guy playing a guitar.   It’s quite a lively place.  People eating, drinking, swimming, playing corn hole.

happy hour at the Sunset Grill

There is a boat dock for people who want to come by boat. 

They put some green lights in the water which allows you to see some fish at night.


For some reason, the current was really ripping, so we were careful not to fall in.

happy hour at the Sunset Grill


It was a lovely night until we remembered we needed canned kitty food.  If we went home empty handed, there would surely have been a revolt.  They expect their canned food in the evening, which is their happy hour.  Off we went to the grocery store and when we got home they were dancing around waiting for the cans to be opened.  Little happy campers.

Sorry for such a along and photo laden blog post, but I knew if I didn’t catch up, I’d never get caught up, since I expect we’ll be pretty busy.


  1. Saw that hole in the road on TV....we were on I-75 north of Tampa headed north and all I could think was "thank goodness no one got hurt, and it is not in front of us." That hole was so big a person could go through it! We plan to do the Keys one of these days....seems like when you live here in Florida the big Florida trips are always on the back burner. Have a nice trip. --Dave (

  2. At least you made it there safe and sound. Enjoy the keys and your little boat.

  3. Your site is beautiful.

    Oasis looks like a place Paul and I would really enjoy. You say gator and Paul is there!

  4. Nice to see all safe and sound in the Keys and back at that beautiful bar and restaurant to relax after a trying day.

  5. Looks like an interesting place to volunteer, but I wonder if three days/week is what they require of solos? Often solos are required to work four days a week, and I'm not interested in doing that any longer. :)

  6. I'm working on next year right now. I have reservations at Long Key and at the park with the long name with Coral in it. I'm in bed and don't want to get up to get the name.

    I have tried to get onto Bahali Honda, but it is not happening. I may look at some other Southern Florida laces and try for Honda again in a few weeks.

  7. Gorgeous pictures. I bet it's nice to sit and watch the sunset from that bar.

  8. Oh the pain! How we wish we were there with you instead of this land of ice and snow! :c(

  9. Have a great stay down south. I know you look forward to your trip to the Keys each year.

  10. What a beautiful area!!! I think for us to find "warm" weather we might have to travel that far. What a horrible winter this has been!!
    Enjoy your time in the Keys!!!

  11. I think the fish you were seeing on the surface were tilapia. They are one of many ciclids that have invaded Florida, due to the many farms that raise them. The eggs are transported by birds. They can be caught with a small piece of worm on a small hook fished near the bottom. They can get quite large and are very tasty. You can keep as many as you like, as they are not relulated.


Please feel free to leave comments. We love to read them! To contact me directly you can send e-mail to