Sunday, March 23, 2014

Snowbirding in Florida Keys - 1996

The last few days we haven't been doing much and actually ran out of time not doing that.  Other than going out Friday for a fish dinner at Montgomery's Bar & Grill we hung around the park.  A few friends dropped by to chat the last couple days and we enjoyed visiting with them.

We got to talking about our first trip snowbirding in the Florida Keys in 1996 without reservations or knowing anything about what was available.  This was before all the campgrounds had websites and we didn't have a cellphone.  No Directv or Dish was available or was too expensive so we used the over the air TV.  I remember that I wanted to watch March Madness and many games were available on the main networks. 

I knew I wanted to fish, so I checked and found I could buy a 6 month fishing license fairly reasonably so that was a necessity for me.  I fished from the shore and bridges and managed to catch a few meals while we were there.  Renting a boat or going out on a headboat wasn't in the cards, but I did manage to get my fishing time in.

Big catch of the day.

Fishing from the campsite at Bahia Honda SP.
 We just drove up to the entrance to Bahia Honda SP and walked in and obtained a water site for two weeks.  That was possible in those days and I seem to remember that it cost $18/night for water and electric.  Those were the good old days at Bahia Honda SP.

Old railroad bridge at Bahia Honda.
 We left Bahia Honda SP and traveled back to Long Key State Park and were able to get two weeks on the beach there also.  This was before they started cutting down the Australian Pine trees and the sites were 70-90 ft long and bordered right on the Atlantic Ocean.  We loved it there also and rode bikes, walked the beach and even found time to discover a number of nice Tiki Bars.

A few years later the state decided to remove the Australian pine trees and then when the hurricanes came along, they took out 30-40 ft of the campground.  It used to be a great campground, but over the years the shoreline has been reduced quite a lot.

We left the Keys and drove up to St. Augustine Beach and got a campsite at the KOA there.  It wasn't the greatest spot, but it was a full hookup site and near all the attractions and beach.  We needed the full hookup site since daughter Barbara and her family drove down to spend Easter week with us.  Now, at this time we had a 30ft Flair motorhome with no slide outs.  

Early morning breakfast.

We dyed and hid Easter eggs on the campsite and the kids managed to find most of them.  Everyone slept in the motorhome even though the boys brought down a tent.  I think they lasted one night in the tent and then decided it was nicer in the motorhome.  Thank God they weren't that big at that time and we managed to make it work.  Some days we ate outside and others inside in shifts.  They must have enjoyed it because they joined us in the Keys for the next 10 years and loved it.

Now it is impossible to get a site at Bahia Honda SP or Long Key since they are reserved 11 months in advance.  Private campgrounds run from $75-150 a night and many campgrounds pack you in like sardines.  We were fortunate to enjoy the Keys for 11 years before it became such a hassle to stay down there.  Plus, we can't handle the Tiki Bars that much anymore.

It was nice while it lasted.   Good night.

 All the above pictures were scanned in from printed photos with the quality not being so good, but they were all we had back then.


  1. Those were some great days! I think you better find a place for next year...that same daughter of yours is already talking about going down there to spend some bonding time with you! Great pictures.

  2. It hasn't even been 20 years and look at all the changes. And not necessarily good changes. But you have such fantastic memories. I love it.

  3. OMG, the first thing I noticed was the "lawn chair"! 😊. Do you still have them?
    What amazing times we had in the Keys! I was devastated when they stopped! Truly magical, beautiful, fun-filled times! Thanks for the memories! I remember walking to the rest rooms to call Henry-- bet the pay phones aren't there anymore either! .. Scorpions, sunsets, DQ, bike riding, snorkeling, March Madness, Easter, Stations of the Cross, stain glass, No Name Pub,

  4. Key deer, Key Lime pie, islamarada fish co & Panda house and even the time I drove all the way back and it took 15 hrs! Do you remember me telling you about the April Fools joke the DJ said about "blowing out the phone lines"?!