A Trip from San Francisco to Key West and Back Again, continued

Sunset in Key West

Sunset in Key West, Florida

After New Orleans, we started out east on our old friend I-10, but soon turned south on I-75 near Lake City, Florida. That night we stayed in Ocala, Florida. The next day we drove south on I-75 to Naples and then took a back road through the Everglades to the eastern coast of Florida and the road south through the Keys to Key West. It was Memorial Day weekend and traffic was terrible, but we eventually pulled in to our accommodations in Key West. We spent seven days and seven nights enjoying Key West. Much of it was devoted to good food and drink, but we also went out on the water for snorkeling and kayaking, did some bird watching, and enjoyed some old fashioned sight seeing. Key West is more crowded and more expensive than it used to be, but it is still a wonderful destination and we had a delightful stay. We even managed to get out to Dry Tortugas National Park, where we got our first sighting of a Brown Noddy and a Sooty Tern as well as never-ending flights of Brown Pelicans, Laughing Gulls, and Magnificent Frigatebirds.


Alligators are common along the Gulf Coast

Our return trip through Florida was much the same general route except that we took a more northerly road through the Everglades. In Louisiana, we dropped down off of I-10 to the Gulf Coast at Lake Charles to visit the Sabine and Anahuac National Wildlife Refuges and continued over to Galveston, Texas, along the Gulf Coast's Bolivar Peninsula. After Galveston, we turned north through the horrendous traffic of Houston and wound up in the delightful Texas Hill Country for the evening. Very good German food in Fredricksburg. Our next stop was Tucson, Arizona, where we found the Saguaro in bloom. The final leg of the trip was through California. We turned north off of I-10 onto SR375 and took that road up to Bishop, California, for our last overnight stop before driving through Yosemite and on to San Francisco. The Sierras were as beautiful as ever.

Saguaro Cactus, Tucson, Arizona

Saguaro Cactus in bloon near Tucson, Arizona

All told, we were gone about three weeks. There are several reasons why I prefer driving to flying these days. The first reason has to do with the unattractive nature of flying in today's overcrowded airplanes. I won't belabor the point. Everybody knows what I mean. The second reason is the convenience of having one's own vehicle available throughout the trip. This provides the ultimate in flexibility. Although there is usually a final destination and an itinerary when I travel with others, when I travel alone, there is usually only a general direction of travel. In both situations I see the trip as being more important than any one destination. The longer the trip the better because it means that I can follow my nose wherever my mood takes me. I genuinely love to wander around in this magnificent country of ours. Others will say that it took us a very long week to drive to Florida and another to get back home. I see it as a week of delightful wandering in both directions with a week of Key West thrown in the middle. I guess this proves that it is really all in the way that you look at things.