Day Ninety-five, Date Wednesday, June 3, 2009
Time in Saddle: 8:47
Distance for the Day: 91.0 miles From Long Point Key To Cudjo Key
Accumulated Trip Distance: 4518.87
Altitudes: Starting/Ending 0’/5’, Highest: 34’ Accumulated: 367’
Speeds: Avg: 10.3 mph, Max: 26.5 mph
Got up at 5:30am and took my time breaking down as the winds were keeping the mosquitoes (mostly) off of me, and it was almost 6:30am before I took off down Hwy 1 toward my first extreme compass point for the contiguous 48 states: South! Stopped for a choco drink, Danish, and candy bars ($6) on Marathon Key. On the first bad bridge trick mentioned in yesterday’s blog, I went 1.86 miles out (2.72 miles round trip) to find out this was a dead-end, but it wasn’t a total waste: I stopped to observe the flow of water from the Gulf of Mexico over to the Atlantic, and saw a large brownish-grey shark (maybe 5’or 6’ long) swimming along through the now clear waters at the bridge footings at about 30’ deep – neat! Also, I got to see a couple of righteous jogging babes along the way, so I was somewhat mollified. I stopped twice for drinks ($6) before finally hitting Key West, and the southernmost point marker at South St. and Whitehead St. – my first extreme compass point! To celebrate, I went to the Cuban restaurant, Casa Cayo Hueso, and had a really nice lunch ($25). At 3:51pm I left the restaurant, and toured around a bit in the touristy parts of town, checking the prices of the snorkel tour operations there. I decided it was too late, and that I would not hang around; it was too congested, and stealth camping could be difficult (lots of police presence), and not very pleasant (lots of vehicle noise). There were bunches of other dive operations all along the keys, starting at the beginning (Key Largo), and I’d hook up with one of them, instead. I left Key West by mid-afternoon, and began wending my way back up the keys until it began to get near sunset, spending another $8 for more drinks along the way (it was hot). I’d noticed along the way down that there were some definite options along the way, but some of them were a bit few and far between, so when I hit one at 7:30pm, I took it. The sun hadn’t even quite set, but I didn’t want to be caught out in the dark, looking for a suitable site. Tonight’s catch was a relatively short, straight side road off Hwy 1 that ended in a rather medium-sized white dirt/gravel circle that was owned by the state wildlife conservation system (N24° 39.722' W81° 29.225'). It may have been an access point for launching small 1 or 2-man boats. The mosquitoes were quite aggressive, here, and a couple of them got me, though I was a bit lax in implementing my anti-skeeter measures (putting on rain gear and headnet). Also, through some trees and bushes, I could see and hear some people who lived just across a bit of water, next door. Not wanting to bother them, I kept my operations as quiet as possible, and they never knew I existed. Two trucks came down to visit for a moment or two, before deciding that this road really did not lead anywhere. The night was temperate, which was still a little too warm for me, but there was also a nice, regular, cooling breeze every now and then. I left the tent fly off, and listened to my iPod until about 10:30pm as I watched the large gibbous moon play hide and seek with the cumulus.