Just Florida Things: Epic Beach Crawl: Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park, Key Biscayne, FL
Looking out from our hotel balcony early Saturday morning, ominous dark clouds lingered in the distance, threatening to spoil the start of our great adventure. As is a regular occurrence, we could see select areas under downpour (à la “drench this spot in particular”). We crossed our fingers, undeterred, and headed out.
Driving across the causeway, we entered one of these patches. Thankfully, we drove out of it before reaching the park and were able to see some of the island, which reminded me far more of laid back Sanibel than much closer and crazier Miami Beach. Entering approximately 1 minute after opening, we were welcomed to find the lot nearly empty and only a handful of bicyclists and fisherman.
With storm clouds lingering, we decided not to bring out all of our gear and set up shop just yet. Rather, we went for a long walk on the mostly deserted beach, lighthouse to our backs, South Beach and towering high rises visible across the ocean to our front. We saw little crabs darting in and out of the water and tiny holes in the sand. The water was clear and bathtub warm, the sand not too fine or course or hot. After walking long enough to have almost technically left the park, we turned back, arriving at our car in the knick of time before another cloud unleashed its deluge. Perfect time for a romantic mid-morning breakfast in the car!
This cloud too passed quickly, just in time for the lighthouse to open. As we walked toward the tour spot, Justin declared “What is that?!” “What. What?!” I froze, wide eyed, looking around frantically as if we are about to be mauled by an alligator, crocodile, black bear, large snake, or any number of other native Florida creatures I would rather not be entangled with. Oh, it’s just an iguana. A massive iguana up in a tree! Crisis averted, pictures taken, and we continued to our lighthouse tour.
With only one other person on our tour – a girl our age who resembled a backpacker (who knows, maybe we’ll come across her blog about this day!), our friendly guide kept it short and sweet, giving us a little insight to the history of the park and lighthouse and also some things to look for at the top. Once inside, as she spoke, I started fumbling with our lenses to switch to one that I could use inside. …”sometimes the staircase moves” I heard her say nonchalantly.
“What?!” I said, looking up sharply. I have a flare for the dramatic. Laughs all around, she explained that a non-rigid staircase inside the lighthouse is actually more structurally sound. “Ok.” I said, turning to the girl who would be accompanying us to the top. “You can go first!”
Our 90-foot ascent actually didn’t take as long as I thought it might, based on other lighthouses we’ve climbed. I did just fine, thanks in great part to not being able to see all the way down to the bottom - my kryptonite at the Ponce de Leon lighthouse, but that’s another story! I was even a little disappointed we didn’t feel the staircase sway. Justin, for some reason, struggled with this one, though. I think he said it was the heat or something. Never mind there was a nice breeze and shade on the outside walkway at the top…
Perilous adventure for the day behind us, after descending, we returned to the beach. By now, the sun had fully emerged and only billowy white clouds fringed by a much lighter gray dotted the sky. Far more crowded now, we walked nearly as far as we did in the morning and were still able to find a sizable spot to ourselves. The water was still clear and untinged by cold and I sat in the shallows, bobbing around like a little human buoy for an excessively long time. Justin joined for a while, then retired to our tent for another while, before finally gently prodding me to get out.
Tossing our gear back into the Mustang, these two beach bums hopped back on the road to continue our epic road trip to the keys, already feeling the color seeping back into our gray corporate lives. Next stop: snorkeling at John Pennekamp State Park, Key Largo!
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Our Favorite Photos from the Trip:
Top Tips & Notes for Next Time:
About the Epic Beach Crawl:
One random Saturday, Justin and I were discussing our hopes and dreams and landed on the topic of our chosen home state of Florida and how little of it we’ve seen, even after living here for several years. One thing lead to another and the question popped up: “How long would it take to drive around the entire coast of Florida?” According to Google Maps, roughly 24 hours give or take. And thus, the Epic Beach Crawl idea was born. Fortunately, after beginning our research, we came to our senses and realized there is far too much to see and do, especially since our modus operandi is along the lines of long walks on the beach paired with mid-afternoon naps! And so, we have split our Beach Crawl to End All Beach Crawls into Epic Beach Crawl part 1, the Florida Keys, a 10 day adventure we took this summer, to eventually be followed by Epic Beach Crawls 2-infinity, TBD.