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Sunday, December 11, 2011

Florida Keys - Day 2 - Saturday

We started our day by checking out the free breakfast at the hotel. Besides the coffee, we decided that a high carb, high protein breakfast was not in the cards, since we both are high protein, low carb eaters. So, off to find a place to get such a breakfast. On the way back from dinner last night, Deb remembered seeing a breakfast place somewhere along our 5 mile drive that was not IHOP. She could not remember the name, just that it was a breakfast place on the Ocean (Atlantic) side of the road. After driving back to the restaurant that we ate at last night, and not finding it, we back tracked about half way to the hotel and found The Wooden Spoon. This was the place that she had seen.

This is a small place, where you sit elbow to elbow with other patrons. The decor is, you guessed it - wooden spoons, with a wooden fork or two thrown in.

The menu is typical breakfast fair and they serve lunch. They also advertised a "box" lunch, intended for the many sport fishermen (fisherpersons?) in the area. The food was very good and we would recommend it.

Next it was off to the Pigeon Key Visitor Center to get tickets for a cruise to and a tour of Pigeon Key.

This Key is famous for being a large work camp for the construction of the Miami to Key West Railroad built by mega-millionaire Henry Flagler. Know as Flagler's Folly, this railroad crossed more than 100 miles of water on its path. The most famous is what is known as the eighth (8th) Wonder of the World, the Seven Mile Bridge. The bridge goes from Vaca Key (one of the Keys that the City of Marathon is on) to Big Pine Key.
Our Transportation to Pigeon Key
Now the history of the Flagler Railroad would take a book - actually there is at least one - "The Last Train to Paradise." It is an interesting story of technical genius, going against the odds, investing enormous sums of money (somewhere close to a billion dollars in 2011 money), tragedy and hardship. A hurricane in 1935 put an end to the railroad, however the State of Florida purchased the right-of-way for about $640K and constructed the Overseas Highway.

Pigeon Key is a historical site which is one large museum. The buildings on the site are maintained and are used for "science" camps in throughout the year.

They have one relatively large guest house (sleeps 8) that they rent for $1,500 per week. You have to bring all the food. Oh yeah, you can only get there by boat, or a 2.2 mile walk across part of Henry Flagler's bridge. Actually, they will allow you to rent a golf cart to go back and forth. It was an interesting tour in a beautiful setting.

 Boat Dock on Pigeon Key
Looks a lot like paradise
Old and new. New on left, old on right
Underside of the original bridge, modified for auto travel.
New and old

I walked back to the car (parked at Knight's Key) along the 2.2 mile section of bridge. Some great views and a chance to look first hand at the construction of the bridge.

Original off ramp to Pigeon Key from the bridge after it was converted to auto travel.

A look at the original Bridge

The way back to Marathon - looks like it goes forever

From the old, looking at both

Looking at the underside of both - notice the construction differences.

The rest of the day we spent exploring the area around the City of Marathon, driving through some RV Parks and housing areas.

Dinner that night was at the Island Fish Company Web Site across the Overseas Highway from the hotel. The business was being remodelled so the only seating was outside on the "pier" that they had put a tent over. The sitting was nice, but for a "Fish Company" they have a very sparse offering of fish and the way they offer to prepare it is pretty sparse also.

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