a pelican-can dance

day two of our honeymoon began well rested! thankfully.

we got back on the highway after breakfast, with the decision to do a bunch of tourist pit-stops before finally ending up in key west. i figured whatever we didn’t get to see on the way down through the keys, we’d either see on the way back up or… another time!

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our first stop was a wild bird sanctuary in tavenier. donation-based admission and it was such a good place to stop! remember how i mentioned that girl that likes to point out every bird? that’s me, guys.

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it was so cool to see pelicans so close up! i have only ever seen one before (in the wild, at least) and it was pretty far away. when we were walking through, the pelicans here were seemingly lined up for dinner time, following one of the staff guys around.

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there were many birds that i had never seen so visibly, but the volume of pelicans… wowza.

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this owl had just woken up from a nap.

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after that pit stop, we continued on to the windley key fossil reef geological state park. i laughed at the sign that read there were ‘very few’ spiders that day, but i was grateful for that. there was a little interpretive center, but otherwise it was all just wandering aimlessly in a forest that used to be under water many hundreds of thousands of years ago.

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all of the ‘rocks’ here were actually fossilized coral reefs. jason was fascinated with the scenery here. i… did not wear proper shoes for hiking around a forest. i didn’t even bring the proper shoes along on the trip.

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so we continued on down the road and stopped at robbie’s in islamorada. i think someone initially told me to stop for a visit, but research told me that there were tarpon to see! “what the heck is a tarpon?” i thought to myself.

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(that’s a tarpon between our heads! also: more pelicans.)

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this was easily the cheapest, best entertainment that we had during our whole trip. about $5 to admit two and get a bucket of fish to feed to these giant fish!

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i don’t even know how you would get a tarpon out of the water. and unfortunately we didn’t see any manatees! just loads of “hungry” pelicans.

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but yeah: essentially you lean precariously over the edge of the crowded dock, dangle a fish into the water and wait for one of these creatures to zoom up and out of the water to snatch the fish from your hand. somehow we didn’t lose any fingers!

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here are the splashes our tarpon made. my splash photo had to be exposure-corrected a little bit so i’m not totally sure what we’re looking at, but that is definitely the mouth/face/insides of a tarpon. eeee!

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seriously such a fun time. (we even stopped to do it again on our way back up the keys.)

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to calm our nerves before heading out on the road again, we found some chairs and a shave ice treat and enjoyed the sun.

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we had lunch at porky’s in marathon, just before crossing over the dreaded 7-mile bridge. it was a nice little shack stop, but this may have been when we overdid it with eating seafood all of the time.

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bathrooms in florida! just kidding: only at porky’s.

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after crossing the 7-mile bridge and not really realizing it (so not a big deal), our next stop was the gorgeous bahia honda state park.

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(spot the tiny gecko!)

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on the atlantic side.

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on the gulf side.

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this was our final pit stop before reaching key west, where we arrived around 5 or 5:30. just in time to walk ourselves a few blocks from our hotel to the southernmost point for a beautiful key west sunset!

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we explored duvall street a bit afterwards, meeting our first town cat at the el gato house (appropriate). we made plans along the walk of what to come back to, where things were located in relation to our hotel, and so on. the more tourist-trap-dense side of duvall street was a little over a mile from our hotel. we did a lot of walking on this trip!

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