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Enjoying Key Biscayne


From Pumpkin Key to Key Biscayne, we had one of the best days of sailing this trip. The wind was 15 to 17 knots as Lily Pad and White Swan sailed with full sails on a beam reach (wind was at 90 degrees from the bow, which is great for sailing) up Biscayne Bay. Gary and I regretted having to take down the sails when we arrived at the channel to go into the marina.

Going south from Miami, we briefly stopped at Crandon Marina on Key Biscayne for fuel, etc. Going north from the Keys, we stopped at the same marina and rented a mooring ball for two nights. The first night is usually a time for relaxing after a day of being out on the water and all that is involved with that. The next day, however, we took our bikes to shore and explored the area.

Nancy and Sandy had told Gary about a bike trail across the street from the marina and we easily found it. The winding path that led us to Crandon Park was partially sheltered by numerous trees, including various types of palms and seagrapes, which intermittently made a canopy over the path, providing shade and a welcome relief to the hot tropical sun.

We rode our bikes around the huge parking lot along the massive sandy beach. Today is Monday so the parking lot was, for the most part, empty. The numerous trash cans throughout the park were full or nearly full indicating the grand park must have been very busy over the weekend. There was a building of significant size at the park so we stopped to see if it might be of interest to us. Delightedly, we once again found relief from the hot sun when we visited the air conditioned Marjory Stoneman Douglas Nature Center, one of the main features of the park. Ms. Douglas greets you with profound words printed on the outside wall as you come toward the entrance: “Whatever the universe is, I believe it is all one. And this fragile shoreline, with its mangroves, coastal hammocks and ancient reef, is a precious part of very little that still survives of our unique environment.” I was so moved by her statement, I stood and read it over and over. I had never heard of Marjory Stoneman Douglas before today, but by the time I left her Nature Center, I found, in her, a new friend. Though she died at the age of 108 in 1998, I felt an intimate kindred spirit with her because of how she cared for and loved the environment. I was told by a young saleslady in the gift shop, Ms. Douglas is well known by Floridians and is one of their most celebrated authors. I purchased one of her books about the Florida everglades, entitled Everglades: River of Grass. She’s written other books, many being books of short stories. Miss Douglas was born in 1890 and in 1915 she became the Society editor for Frank Stoneman’s Miami Herald. Hummm…office romance maybe. I find the sequence of her name interesting, keeping her maiden name last instead of a hyphenated last name like it is done by some ladies nowadays. Today, she might have called herself Marjory Douglas-Stoneman.

The nature center had six small aquariums that housed inhabitants of the local waters. It had an art gallery, gift shop and numerous handouts of informative literature of the local sea life and other facts about the Florida environment, as well as information about Key Biscayne. It would be worth a visit to the nature center just to pick up a map of the area.

While I was in the gift shop, Gary studied the map of the park and saw there was a garden on the opposite end of the park from where the nature center was. Upon leaving our air conditioned reprieve, we rode our bikes once again across the huge parking lot (seriously, it’s at least one mile long) and found the gardens. We were greeted by a loud bird’s call, of which we had no clue from what bird it came. Surprised, we found peacocks roaming freely in the gardens. We were not only amazed at the spectacle of them, we were amazed at how many there where. What a sight!

To say the acres of gardens were lovely, is an understatement. In one of the fountain ponds, a swan couple glided over the water’s surface toward us, as though they instinctively knew we wanted to take their picture. We already have a swan picture aboard White Swan, but it is soon to be replaced with the new one we took today of this graceful couple.

We rode our bikes on the partially shaded paved paths throughout the gardens and ended up riding on an unpaved path at the far side of the park. We thought maybe we would find a way out to the road, but we ended up in a hammock with no outlet. Actually, it was a little eerie. We quickly turned our bikes around and went out the way we came in.

Sandy and Nancy had told us about a grocery store within biking distance, so we turned the opposite direction from the way we needed to go back to the marina. A mile or so down the bike trail, we passed Nancy as she was biking back to the marina with groceries.

While we briefly chatted we her, we neglected to ask how much further the store was, and after what seemed like an endless hot journey, we found it in a strip mall, on the second floor. How many grocery stores do you know of that are in a strip mall on the second floor? Since we didn’t want to carry a heavy load of groceries, we purchased a few light items and then had lunch right there at the grocery store’s sub shop. Dr. Gary Glenn is living the high-life now folks. Ambiance is all in the eyes of the beholder, and air conditioning offered all the ambiance we needed to entice us to have lunch in a grocery store.

For those of you who plan to cruise in this area, the Winn Dixie grocery store is approximately a 30 minute bike ride from Crandon Marina. Go across the street from the marina and you will easily find the bike trail. Turning right on the trail takes you to Crandon Park and to the Village of Key Biscayne, where you will find the grocery store and other shops. The Winn Dixie is on the corner of Crandon Blvd. and W. Enid Drive. If you are riding your bike on the same side of the street as Crandon Park, the street sign reads Sunrise Drive (the street is named W. Enid Drive on the other side of the street). A bank occupies the corner of the street that is visible from Sunrise Drive (look across the street). There is a bike rack on the W. Enid Drive side of the building, as well as an escalator or elevator that you use to go up to the store. We had so much trouble finding this place, I doubt we will ever forget where it is. 

After allowing our body temperatures to drop down to normalcy, we ventured back outside into the noonday sun. Our options were to hurry back to a hot boat on the mooring ball (no electricity, therefore no air conditioning) or continue to enjoy what breeze there was from riding our bikes and see more of the park. We chose the later. From the saleslady in the gift shop of the nature center, we were informed of a boardwalk in the park leading to a fossilized mangrove forest. Fortunately, the boardwalk was on our way back to the marina. We easily found it, and it led us to a deck that overlooked the fossilized black mangrove forest, which just looked like a reef in the water below us. If you didn’t know what you were looking at, you would think it is just another reef. However, it is a very special feature of Crandon Park, and it is believed to be over 6000 years old.

Instead of going directly back to the boat after leaving the boardwalk, we went past our turn to the marina and went up on the bridge that connects Key Biscayne to Miami. Again, our resident informational Keys experts, Nancy and Sandy, told us sometimes you can stand on the bridge and see stingrays and other large fish in the water below the bridge. Unfortunately, our timing wasn’t right and after a few minutes of standing in the hot sun and seeing nothing swimming in the water, we rode our bikes back to the marina store where we indulged in ice cream and bought a bag of ice so we could enjoy a nice cold drink on the boat.

We enjoyed our day exploring Key Biscayne tremendously. Going ashore while cruising has been one on our greatest pleasures. Often times, there is no where to tie up the dinghy, thereby not allowing a shore excursion. But when possible, going ashore adds so much to the experience of cruising.

The best part of the whole day was going to dinner with Nancy and Sandy. We took the city bus to the Village of Key Biscayne, and Gary and Sandy decided upon the restaurant, Origin Asian, and it turned out to be fabulous. The evening hours presented a cool breeze and we sat outside beside a fountain pond. Our meals were wonderful and our last night together with our dear newly acquired friends, Nancy and Sandy Graves, was very special. I say “last night” because tomorrow we are parting ways, as we continue to go north to our new home in Melbourne, Florida, and they reunite with Ed and Cheryl to continue their journey to the Bahamas.  Bon voyage, our friends.
















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