May 7th --Key West--

Today was one of the most important day in this journey, or I can say the day of triumph. The place I headed was Key West, the southern most point of the continental USA. Although I couldn't drive my Jeep here, it was a great achievement to drive down to Key West. If you see the map of US, you will see a hook at the bottom of Florida Peninsula. The tip of the hook is Key West. There are a lot of small islands called keys and these keys are connected by many bridges. I took US-1 south and drove carefully. The speed limit was very slow, 55 or sometimes 45, but I couldn't exceed it. In fact, I saw many patrols on the way, as many as a mosquitoes in the Everglades NP.

Key West is about 160 miles away from Miami, but it took 5 hours to get there. On the way I saw beautiful ocean and white bridges, so it's not a good idea to rush to the end. The longest bridge is called the 7 miles bridge. I stopped the car just before the bridge and had a lunch on a seashore. Many people were enjoying fishing, although most of them didn't seem to get fish. I crossed the 7 miles bridge and drove 3 more hours to get to Key West. Key West was a small town and crowded with many visitors. As is often the case, I couldn't get a chance to stop in the town. I kept on driving to the end. Fortunately, there was a parking lot. I parked my car and put on my rollerblades. This is a great way of transportation in this kind of place. I explored the town a little bit, looking for the southern most point. But I couldn't find it. I went into a cafe to get some Latte. The guy in the cafe told me where is the point. It was not in a walking distance. I went back to my car after enjoying the Latte on the seaside cafe.

I drove for only a couple of minutes to get to the southern most point. On the way I found a start point of US-1 and the mileage mark of "0 mile". I took some pictures of the southern most point, although the color of the monument mismatched terribly with the ocean color. Then, I drove to a beach. It was already 16:00, but still OK to bathe a little bit. The water was warm and the wind was cold. This is similar to the case in Japan and totally opposite to the case in California. The water was shallow, so I had to walk a little bit until I could swim. I enjoyed swimming for some time and went back to the beach. There was no shower but I found a sprinkler. I rotated myself with the sprinkler at the center. I got dressed in my car and got ready to drive back.

It was also a long drive to Miami. I got there at around 21:00. Although it was already dark, I drove through the downtown Miami. It was a business district with high buildings of banks, hotels. But there was no restaurants nor bars. I crossed a bridge to South Beach. Oh, yes. There were many bright signs of cafes, restaurants, night clubs, and motels. I went to a cafe on a roadside to get a light supper. Although the meal was so so, the atmosphere was good. I thought this supper was enough to know Miami. The room rate in South Beach was high, so I drove north to get a cheaper room. While driving I found one thing. States road are put three digit numbers and this was really confusing to a stranger tired from a long drive. What's the hell of 934, 922, or 826? I stayed in a Holiday Inn along 826.

The 7 miles bridge

A view from a seaside cafe

The southern most point

Rest Beach

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Copyright (C) Tadao Hashimoto