When friends arrive at your doorstep and say "Let's go to the Keys!" You don't argue, you merely pack your bags, call in sick, and hit the road. That's what happened when my favorite Orlando girls rolled into town. Due to my work schedule it would be just an overnighter but I knew it would certainly be worth it.
We arrived early afternnon at Bahia Honda State Park where we would be staying with one of the park rangers, Joey. As you can see in the photo above the man always has a smile on his face and per his reputation, he showed us a great time. While most of the group went with him into town for groceries, Amber and I hit the kayaks.
Joey has his own small kayak launch where we paddled out to Bare Beach. This was a great stretch of Mangrove habitat. Amber and I had some fun walking around picking up trash and exploring the shallow areas for wildlife. On the sand flats where a few dowitchers, one Reddish Egret, and some Willets.
By this time it was late afternoon and the water was like a hot bathtub. We decided to forego swimming and took a leisurely paddle back to the house.
As the sun starting sinking into the horizon Joey informed us of a surprise he had in store for our afternoon. Previously that morning he had dug up a sea turtle nest and found three stragglers alive. We were set to release them at sunset. So off we hopped into the car to release the turtles. First we took a detour to fold the flags and pick up the babies.
For those that know me, it comes as no surprise that this was a lifetime experience. I fell in love with sea turtles as a young girl and it possibily could be the main reason I went into the science field. So with great pleasure I held the baby Loggerhead Sea Turtle, let it crawl on the sand, and then scooped it up to release it out into the warm waters of the Gulf.
This certainly was one of the highlights of the trip but the party was no where near over. After a great meal we went swimming in the bioluminescence and stared up at the Milky Way. I love swimming in the ocean at night, especially on clear nights when the stars cease to end. We had a late night of celebrating and the next day we were slow to rise. But eventually we made it out to do some snorkeling before heading home. All in all, the trip was one of the highlights of summer. I wish I could have stayed longer but there's always next time.
Just remember folks, if they ask you to go to the Keys, don't turn down the offer. You will find no better place to relax. It really is like a tropical paradise, especially if you have the right friends and a cold beer to drink.