We have arrived in the Florida Keys! Big Pine Key to be exact (located a little more than halfway down the Keys, about 30 miles north of Key West). My dad Bill, and his girlfriend Katherine, have a place on the island where they generously offered us a piece of their driveway. If you have even been to the Keys, or know anything about them, then you know just how expensive and difficult it can be to secure a camping spot down here. Chances are if we didn’t have this place to park we would only be able to spend at the most one week down here, so to say we are grateful is an understatement.
Our plans are up in the air at the moment, but we will probably stay here through January at least. As time goes on I’ll share with you all the amazing things that make this area so special, including the turquoise blue water, long bridges, abundance of wildlife, fresh foods, unique culture, and much much more. For now though, here’s a mini tour of the house and yard. Starting with where we are parked.
The driveway is off a skinny dead-end street. Very few cars drive by, and the two houses across the street are currently unoccupied, which means it is much quieter and more peaceful than many campgrounds. The driveway is just long enough for us to fit. Right behind our bedroom windows is the door into the house.
You walk in and are greeted by a quaint, functional kitchen.
From the kitchen you can go straight through the end door into the yard, or turn left into the living room and then out the french doors onto the screened in porch. This has quickly become my favorite spot. I set up my computer in here and spent an entire day enjoying some productive time and cool breeze away from the confines of the Airstream.
Out through the screen door and into the yard you will find a large work bench and outdoor kitchen. Right now the workbench is covered with concrete geckos. My dad crafts these geckos from a custom made mold and then stains them various colors. The yard down here is almost completely covered with these interlocking geckos. They make a great patio that is nice on the feet and pleasing to the eye. As you would expect, people who see the geckos often want their own gecko patio. In fact, the ones on the bench are the start of a custom installation for one of his neighbors.
Continuing past the outdoor kitchen and workbench you can follow the geckos to the bocce court on the left.
Bocce is a pretty popular game in the Keys. I don’t remember exactly when my dad became interested enough to build his own court, but I do know that this particular one has been around for 15 years. Prior to that the original court was wiped out when Hurricane Georges came through in 1998. At some point I’d like to write an entire post on bocce and the bocce game that happens here every week. For now just a photo.
To the right of the bocce court is the pyramid sitting area. The pyramid roof was built using the exact coordinates of the ancient pyramids of Egypt. At one time it had a palm frond thatched roof, but these days it’s just wood slats, allowing a nice breeze to come through. In the middle of the table is giant lazy Susan turntable, perfect for passing around snacks and drinks.
Past the Pyramid area the gecko path continues alongside the Bed and Bath house where around back you will find the outdoor shower. An outdoor shower down here where the average winter temp and humidity hovers in the mid-80s is pretty much the best idea ever. There’s nothing better than showering in the middle of tropical jungle with a warm breeze tickling your nether regions :)
Now we’ve reached the far corner of the yard where you have your choice of sitting areas under the giant palm trees.
This side of the yard also has a raised bed garden. The current crops are broccoli, carrots, and cucumbers.
At the very end of the yard is a bamboo door that leads out onto the street. From here we turn and look back down the bocce court while admiring the hand painted fern wall on the right.
Thats all for now. At some point I’ll give a more in depth tour of the different plants around the yard. There are a great variety of palms, ferns, flowering vines, a few fruit trees, and even a cactus.
A few days in and we’re already settling into our routine here nicely. Enjoying the tropical air, going for long bikes rides, and doing our best to deal with the voracious no-see-ums that have left my legs looking like I have a bad case of the chicken pox (not an exaggeration, apparently I am having a particularly bad reaction to them). I can’t wait to share more with you all as the days go by. I’ll leave you with a photo from our first night.
Happy New Year Everyone!
Wow! That screened porch would be my lair. The only problem with the whole place is you may never want to leave. Enjoy!
The porch is fabulous!
What a beautiful house, looks like you have quite the set up there and may never leave. I love the patio geckos and the landscaping, who do I call for reservations?
I’ll ask my dad if he has any openings ;)
Lucky you to have such a great place to hang for awhile. I feel your pain with those no see’ms. Before the cold weather hit south Texas the mesquites were out in full force making my face look like a pimpled faced teenager….. mind you, not that I’d mind looking like a teenager but I could do without all the red swollen blotches. Cheers to a New Year filled with lots of new adventures :-)
The lack of bugs is one of the main reason why we love spending the winter in the southwest. No mosquitos here – the county sprays for them – but plenty of tiny, pesky no-see-ums. Luckily I have bites everywhere but my face!
All we can say is WOW! Good for you guys. Sounds like a great way to spend winter. Enjoy … and share with us so we can live vicariously!!!
Thanks! We’ll definitely be sharing a lot more about the area over the next month or so.
Don’t you just love it when family/friends live in cool places with room for your trailer? You totally scored on this one. Thanks for the very fun tour. We spent three weeks in the Keys last November/December, and I just made reservations for next winter. The state parks are beautiful, but I think you did even better. :-)
We definitely got lucky on this one. I am sure we would be happy at one of the state parks, but it’s nice to be out of the campground for a while.
What an amazing, beautiful and welcoming home! Great spot as a home base for exploration. Happy New Year!
It’s so nice to have a private yard to hang out in again. We miss that at a lot of campgrounds. Happy New Year to you and Greg as well!
Looks like a great place to spend some time. We loved the Keys! Happy New Year to the two of you. May 2015 be a year of abundance and grand adventures. :)
Happy New Year to you as well LuAnn! The Keys are a really special place and we’re very happy to be spending an extended amount of time here.
Wow! What a fantastic, funky little place! I loved Big Pine Key. We went out there for our Florida Master Naturalist training last month. It was so cool to see the key deer, the big blue hole, and to hike around the pine lands. Check out Square Grouper on Cudjoe Key if you feeling like treating yourselves to a delicious upscale dinner out, it won’t disappoint and the story behind the name is a hoot. You guys aren’t far from where we’re working this season, we’re a few hours north in Everglades City. Enjoy “summer light” as we’ve been calling our first winter here in FL ;)
A few other people have mentioned the Square Grouper. Sounds like we need to check it out. Big Pine Key is such a cool place because so much of it is preserved. I went on a guided nature walk in the refuge last week and learned a ton about the native plants and animals. I think “summer light” is a perfect way to describe FL.
And you know you have to go to the No Name Pub don’t you? We spent Thanksgiving there this year and just love the area.
Chuck & Debbie
Yup, it’s on the list. Our curtesy parking spot is very close, and I’ve been before, but Tim still needs to experience it.