Monday, March 13, 2006
  Camping at Elliott Key
Saturday we got geared up and headed off to the Biscayne National Park headquarters to catch our boat out to Elliott Key. I went to register and the lady at the counter said that no one else had showed up and, seeing as how it was a 49-person boat, they wouldn't take just us two out. Uhh. I started in with, "We planned our whole weekend around this." Just as my lip began to tremble, the lady said to not give up yet, that we had 20 minutes until the boat showed up; maybe some more people would show.

I went and told Mark this, who was waiting by our gear. He was appropriately annoyed/angry. A while later, he went and talked to the lady himself and, as it turns out, the owner of the operation happened to overhear. He agreed he'd make a special trip just for us. Two more people ended up coming out with us, so it was just four of us on the boat. They have an 8-person minimum.

This was our first view of Elliott Key.

The main campground was very busy, but we took a 5-minute walk to the ocean side of the Key and found a completely empty campground. This is where we set up.

Two more tents ended up joining us on the ocean side, but the other campers mostly stayed away that night, until they went in their tents.. so it was like we had the campfire and the ocean all to ourselves. It was awesome. And, thanks to the breeze and the fire, the bugs stayed away!

To rewind a bit, after we set up our stuff, we ate our lunch by the ocean (all alone! not another person in sight, if you don't count the boats) and then went down to the water to go snorkeling.. This pic was taken just before. The water was cold, but there were an amazing amount of fishies to see, just in the swimming area.. Parrotfish, angelfish, snook, even a blenny! I took my camera the next day, but unfortunately the viz was horrible that day, so I couldn't get so many pics and none are too great.

A blenny! :)

Sunday morning, we managed to sleep in until 8:30 or so, then got up and had our little breakfast and headed back over to the Gulf side for more snorkeling. Even with my shorty wetsuit, the water was just too cold to stay in for long.. well, I could've, but the viz was so bad it didn't seem worth it. So we got out, dried off, then headed off for a wade along the shoreline. We saw some little critters - crabs, snails, and, on the way back, about a dozen little trunkfish in the shallows.

These are the fish we kept seeing in calf-deep water.

This is what the walk the view on the walk/wade was like..

Very pretty, nice time. There were the usual annoyances - had we been camping on the gulf side, we would have had to listen to blaring music coming from the boats.. People left their trash everywhere.. beer bottles littered the shoreline.. Disheartening, but if you tried to put it out of your mind and just enjoy the place for itself, it was very nice.

You can see all the pics here.
Or watch a slideshow here.

I have a horrible sunburn on my back now.. oy. That walk was a lot longer than I expected, and I think the wetsuit rubbed off a lot of my sunscreen. Whoops.

In other news, I got an email from the woman with the tortoise in MT, and she's going to send me the tortoise! I gotta start preparing for that! Little Bjorn is going to have a big brother! :)

can't wait to go look at all the pics now. looks divine. and yay! to new tortoise!!
Looks like you had fun. Sorry to hear about your sunburn. That's never nice. As a kid I think I got blistered every time I visited FL from TN each year. Of course it could be worse if it had been on other places...a la south beach sunburn. I remember getting blistered on the backs of my knee's and on the top of my feet. I could not walk or bend my legs and of course my back and front were also sunburned.( And no I was not at South Beach or a nude beach than god) That would be real pain beyond compair ha ha.

Tom Hundley
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I'm Stacey. I'm a 31(!)-year-old Wisconsin girl living in sunny South Florida. The highlights in my life are my lovely boyfriend, my aloof cats, my adorable/adoring stepdogs, my two lumbering tortoises, select family members, being outside, being underwater, taking pictures, yadda yadda. Stay tuned for lots of babbling!

Location: Fort Lauderdale, Florida, United States


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Making a difference

A small boy lived by the ocean. He loved the creatures of the sea, especially the starfish, and he spent much of his time exploring the seashore.

One day the boy learned there would be a minus tide that would leave the starfish stranded on the sand.

When the tide went out, he went down to the beach, began picking up the stranded starfish, and tossing them back into the ocean.

An elderly man who lived next door came down to the beach to see what the boy was doing. Seeing the man's quizzical expression, the boy paused as he approached. "I'm saving the starfish!" the boy proudly declared.

When the neighbor saw all of the stranded starfish he shook his head and said: "I'm sorry to disappoint you, young man, but if you look down the beach, there are stranded starfish as far as the eye can see. And if you look up the beach the other way, it's the same. One little boy like you isn't going to make much of a difference."

The boy thought about this for a moment. Then he reached his small hand down to the sand, picked up another starfish, tossed it out into the ocean, and said: "Well, I sure made a difference for that one!"

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