1 We stayed in Islamorada for eight glorious days. The Florida Keys are a surprisingly relaxed and pleasant place, stretching from Key Largo all the way to Key West, covering a distance of about 120-miles. There are many places to stay and lots to do.
2 Granddaughter, Jude, swam every day in the pool and loved getting cozy in towels to keep warm when out of the water.
3 Kevin came with us and he napped with both Jude and Truman.
4 Fresh shrimp were plentiful. We mostly cooked at our bungalow and found the local stores had most everything we needed.
5 Lazy Days in Islamorada has a lively bar and serves fresh local fish and very good mixed drinks. The margaritas were excellent!
6 Even the fish taxidermy were in the holiday spirit!
7 We took a day trip to Key West, which was 77-miles from our lodging. It was a bit far, but we got it out of our system and Truman got to visit his namesake's vacation White House.
8 The Little White House has a very interesting history. Built in 1890 as quarters for Navy officers, the Little White House later was used by American Presidents William Howard Taft, Harry S. Truman, Dwight Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy, Jimmy Carter, and Bill Clinton for both vacation and policy making.
9 Key West is known for its tourist attractions, many of which are local watering holes, like The Green Parrot, which was started in 1890 as a grocery store. At the end of WWII, it was turned into The Brown Derby Bar and was transformed into The Green Parrot in the 1970s.
10 Kevin and I both liked this parrot sign, a smaller version of which is available here. http://greenparrot.com/store/detail.aspx?ID=82
11 Banyan trees, members of the fig family, grow to immense sizes in the Keys. They start out as epiphytes, a plant growing upon another, and grow to envelop the host tree, giving the nickname of 'strangler fig.'
12 Audubon House and Tropical Gardens is another of Key West's attractions, named for the naturalist, John James Audubon. There are 28 first edition Audubon works in the house.
13 Audubon visited the Keys in 1832 and drew 18 new birds for his "Birds of America" folio, many of which were drawn in the Audubon House gardens.
14 The Key West Aquarium is also an interesting place to visit and the babies got to feel some of the aquatic life at the touch tank, but not these strange green moray eels.
15 Green morays occupy shallow, rocky shorelines, reefs and mangroves in the western Atlantic from New Jersey to Brazil. They are actually a brown color, but their skin is bathed in a protective, yellowy mucus that tints them green.
16 In the shark tank, there are nurse sharks, sandbar sharks, and bonnethead sharks and there are feedings throughout the day.
17 As the guides feed, they offer interesting facts about the sharks and try to dispel myths regarding this misunderstood creature.
18 A good look at a bonnethead shark, which is a small, common hammerhead shark with a smooth, rounded head. Eating mostly crustaceans, mollusks, and small fish, it is a harmless and timid shark.
19 Spiny lobsters, or rock lobsters, are notable for their long, thick, spiny antennae and lack of claws.
20 Pterois, commonly known as lionfish, is a genus of venomous marine fish found mostly in the Indo-Pacific and is a very popular aquarium specimen.
21 If attacked, a lionfish delivers a potent venom via its needle-like dorsal fins. Its sting is extremely painful to humans and can cause nausea and breathing difficulties, but is rarely fatal.
22 Zooanthids are colonies of sea animals commonly found in coral reefs, the deep sea, and many other marine environments around the world.
23 Another look
24 Gorgonians are also known as sea whips or sea fans.
25 This is a clownfish or anemonefish, native to warmer waters, and lives in coral reefs.
26 Soft corals are an order of corals which do not produce calcium carbonate skeletons.
27 Sea Horses, Hippocampus erectus, are a deep chested, robust and hardy seahorse. They are commonly found in sea grasses along the Atlantic coastal areas of the US and in the Gulf of Mexico.
28 After the aquarium, we ate at Pepe's Cafe in Key West for lunch and had very good fresh local fish sandwiches. Established in 1909, it is the oldest restaurant in town.
29 The ride through the Keys is quite fascinating. The old railroad line and the many miles of old construction are still extant, although unusable, except as fishing piers in certain areas.
30 The highway, the southernmost leg of US 1, follows a trail originally blazed in 1912 when Henry Flagler extended his Florida East Coast Railroad from Miami to Key West.
31 The railroad ceased operations on the Miami-Key West link in 1935, following extensive damage to the roadbed by severe hurricane winds and the economic decline caused by the Depression era.
32 Some stretches are used by joggers and cyclists. It's really quite beautiful, especially at sunrise and sunset.
33 An appealing island getaway near the highway
34 An Australian pine, a non-indigenous species, takes hold in unusual places.
35 This Overseas Highway was begun in the 1930s and was an incredible engineering feat. There is a total of 113 miles of roadway and 42 overseas bridges. This span is known as Seven Mile Bridge.
36 It took seven days to finish this very complex Liberty classic wooden jigsaw puzzle. Alexis is really patient and good at puzzles - I work only in short spurts.
37 Jude was renamed Juicyfrutas because of the huge amounts of fresh fruits she consumes every day.
38 One of the many friendly cafes for morning coffee
39 It was nice to sip a cafe outside.
40 Alexis made sure the children spent lots of time communing with nature - in and out of the ocean and pool.
41 Truman loved the ocean and did not mind the cool water at all.
42 The red ball, or just about any ball, is very appealing to Truman.
43 Jude learned about sunrises. We went out every morning to see the sun rise up over the horizon.
44 She loved seeing the sky change.
45 The pelicanos were a source of constant comment and fascination.
46 The babys' and Alexis' luggage - Alexis uses Muji bags and each is tagged with contents - swimwear, clothing, diapers, toiletries, etc. All our bags were driven to Florida ahead of time so we could send down prepared baby food and pantry items. We had no check-in baggage!
47 Our bungalow was pretty basic, but airy, light, breezy, and comfortable. It was part of the compound known as the Pine and Palms.