Diving in the Upper Keys

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Since we are not planning a festival stop this September, we decided to have a little mini-festival of our own with some friends. Let me say that we had the time of our lives. One of our good friends invited us to come dive in the Keys. Of course, we jumped on the opportunity!

We recently picked up a GoPro as well and we were pretty anxious to play with it.

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 We headed out and met up with our friends Steve and Ashley. A big breakfast at Evelyn’s in Key Largo prepped us for an exciting day on the water between Key Largo and Tavernier.

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The water was warm, turquoise blue and clear as far as the eye could see.

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And we saw a lot of these guys – Pink Moon Jellyfish. When I say a lot, I mean hundreds. Now, some people say that the Moon Jellyfish doesn’t sting. They would be incorrect. Take a good look at the picture below. I can attest that they DO in fact sting, and it hurts like hell.

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The Queen tried to tell me to look out for it in the water as I was coming up for air….I came up right into the maw of a huge moon jelly. It wrapped around my head and got me in the mouth with its little tentacles. It felt like someone caught my face and neck on fire. Within 10 minutes, my lip swelled up and it looked like someone punched me in the mouth. After two hours, I felt a little sick….In all, I got stung four times. They do sting and it hurts.

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Steve passed over a sandy area and we both spotted something huge in the water. So we stopped and jumped in. Turns out it was a completely empty 18″ Horse Conch about 16-18 feet below the surface. Biggest one I’ve seen. That thing is a BEAST.

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Once it gets all cleaned up, I’m sure it’ll look awesome.

Steve and Ashley also found a few Queen Conchs as well (sorry I didn’t snap any pics!). I’m sure they will look just as awesome once they’re cleaned up.

We also found many Milk Conchs….

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And several Hawkwing Conchs…which cleaned up nicely.

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As well as a killer Wing Oyster of some kind and a ton of  HUGE Sunrise Tellins.

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Another reason for going was to hopefully get our hands on some lobster. Well, my buddy Steve and I did grab a couple of them while we were in the water. Unfortunately, they were too small so we threw them back.

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Warm, clear water, good friends on a boat in the Keys? Can it get any better? I don’t think so, my friends. A big thanks goes out to Steve and Ashley for their hospitality. We had a wonderful time. This HAS to become a habit!

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Oh yeah, I did a little compilation video on Youtube. Click the fish pic below to check it out. Be sure to click the settings button and set it to 1080p HD to get the full effect. There might be a sea turtle and a barracuda in there somewhere.

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Fourteen Florida Fun and Festival Tour – August 2014

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You know a festival will have a lasting impression on you when it’s a real experience. This past weekend’s Quadruple F tour stop was just that – an experience.

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We always love the drive to Key West. Some folks don’t enjoy long car rides. I particularly don’t either – especially if I’m driving from one side of Kansas to the other (and I have done that before). But in my opinion, you couldn’t pick a better scenic route than Route 1 through the beautiful Florida Keys.

Before we headed out to enjoy some succulent lobster, we decided to stop off at John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park and go on an early morning snorkel tour.

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So I dragged my sleepy Queen out of bed bright and early, caught a killer sunrise snapshot and headed over to Key Largo.

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The Queen and I are snorkel freaks. We’ve snorkeled just about everywhere. This one is a must do if you’re passing through the Keys. It’s $29.95 for 2 1/2 hours in the water. You can go on a 4 1/2 hour tour for $38.95. Since we were pressed for time, we elected to go on the short one. We shoulda done the longer one.

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They took us out to the Key Largo Dry Rocks, also the home of the famous Christ of the Deep statue, which sits about 20-25 feet below the surface. The water was over 90 degrees with visibility of  probably 50 feet.

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The Captain said, “For a real religious experience, dive down and give it a big hug”.

But don’t do that. It’s totally covered in fire coral, except for his hands, which I high fived.

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Isn’t she cute?

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Unfortunately, Pennekamp is a “no touch, no take” state park. Meaning, don’t touch or take anything home with you. I was sad because as a sheller, the sea floor is littered with goodies. My heart especially sank after realizing that I couldn’t take home the two very large (but live) Queen Helmets I stumbled across.

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So after we dried off and changed, we were off to Key West for some lobster!

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So upon hitting the main drag, the Queen says, “Wow, this is what I call a festival!” And it is. Not just a festival. It’s an experience.

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So why is it an experience?

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Key West is known for it’s pretty free environment. If you wanna dress in a pink thong and walk down the street, you can. Wanna dress up like a pirate? Go right ahead. Start a parade in the middle of the street? Do it.

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Now I’m not one to dress in drag and walk down the street in broad daylight. But if I wanted to, Key West would be the place to do it…and no one would think I was weird.

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I think that’s part of the charm as well. We people watch. It’s entertaining, especially in Key West. If you haven’t been, you definitely need to make the trip. It’s beautiful.

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You could smell the lobstah from all the way up Caroline street.

The festival was a full six blocks, and it was packed to the gills.

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Loud music, people hollering and dancing and the sweet smell of grilled lobster – a real festival environment. It was truly difficult to decide what to eat, because there was deliciousness all around.

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Now, I have never had a lobster roll. I have always wanted to try one. I like warm weather, so I’m not going to Maine to get one. I told the Queen that I hoped they would have them there. They did and we immediately jumped in line to get one.

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It was everything I thought it would be. Solid chunked, chilled lobster with just enough mayo and paprika….tossed on a buttered and toasted roll with lettuce. Delicious!

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But that wasn’t enough for us. Then the Queen saw lobster mac n cheese.

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and I saw Honey Tempura lobster tail…on a STICK DUDE!

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$25. Was it worth it?

Look at her face.

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Honey Tempura lobster tail on a stick. Let that sink in for a minute.

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It was blazing hot with a temp over 100 degrees. Time for a sno-cone…..

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and some rest under the Banyan tree on Duval Street.

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After a (long) hot walk to the Southernmost Point, we stopped at the Lighthouse and the Ernest Hemingway house.

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Drenched with sweat and severely overheated, we headed back to the car and made our way back up to the Upper Keys to our hotel.

Tired, sore and sunburned, you’d figure we’d be glad to be outta there. But the Queen said, “This was the most fun Saturday ever!”

And she was right.

Snorkeling, scenic driving (with a stop off and swim at Anne’s Beach) and festivalling – you just can’t top it.

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We will do this trip again.

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