One might ask, “why did you go to Florida in the middle of the summer.” To that we have two words – Zika Virus. On our original loop, we had planned to visit the parks in Florida in January. It would have been perfect. Great temperatures, fewer mosquitos. But because Madison was pregnant with Theo at the time, we didn’t want to risk running into any trouble with Zika. So we skipped it and doubled back this summer.
And yes, that is a MASSIVE mosquito on my forehead. Honestly I am glad that bug chose to land on my head at the moment this picture was snapped, because the mosquitos are the part of Biscayne that I will remember most vividly. SO. MANY. SQUEETS. It was insane.
As you can see, I quickly ended the little bugger’s life. We took 5 pictures in the space of about 45 seconds… and we got at least 10 bites each. Theo actually was the only one sparred. They were attracted to the bigger blood bags, I guess. (and he had a net that went over his carseat most of the time, we didn’t have that luxury)
We showed up to Biscayne National Park the day we got to Southern Florida. We had been driving most of the day, and we got to the park in the mid afternoon (mistake number one). There is a reason that the ONLY picture we have from the first day was putting on sunscreen inside the RV. Because as soon as we stepped outside, there was no time to focus on anything except survival. (okay that sounds extreme, but really it felt like that in the moment!)
We had everything ready to go, the towel, the little kiddie tent, the sunscreen, and the bug spray. But we had no idea what we were in for. First of all, we open the door and get hit in the face with the hottest air I have ever felt. It was so hot and so humid, my senses didn’t know how to react. Growing up in the desert of Idaho, I had never felt such a heavy heat. We saw a bit of shade near the water and did our best to make our way toward is. We would have probably made it without losing our minds if the horde of mosquitos didn’t intercept us. Swarms. That is the only word to describe it. There were clouds of mosquitos trying to suck us dry. Through my shirt, through my shorts – nothing was going to stop them. ESPECIALLY our stupid hippy dippy bug spray. That stuff is worthless. If you want to beat these guys, you need to bathe in 100 percent deet. And honestly, I am even skeptical that would do the trick. While simultaneously being melted by the sun and eaten by millions of vampires, we somehow managed to set up the little tent for Theo, put a portable fan on him, and immediately went to get in the water for some relief (this sentence sounds gnarly, but reading it, I feel like it still is weak in comparison to the real experience). The only problem was, the water was as hot as a hot tub. I was baffled. I thought, maybe if I walk out deeper it will cool down. Nothing. I walked out 100 feet or so and got zero relief from the hot water. Without slowing my pace, I walked back to shore, told Madison not to even try the water (as she was getting ready to join me there) and to leave everything and head to the visitor center! We were not going to survive. I came to my senses and didn’t leave all of our gear. Madison packed up Theo and literally ran to the sweet, sweet A/C of the visitor’s center. I gathered the things, dumped them in the RV, and then ran myself to the visitor’s center as well.
And that’s about it. We watched the park film, walked around the exhibits, and then raced back to the RV to get the heck out of there. We resolved that the only time we could make it in this park was in the early morning before the sun came up. So that was our plan.
The next day, we got up early, and drove the 10 miles or so from town to the park.
The park was MUCH more manageable this time around. It was still pretty warm, but nothing like we had experienced the day before.
There was even a kind, light breeze that seemed to keep the bugs at bay. Maybe they were just sleeping still? Not sure. But there was no sign of the swarms that were attacking us earlier.
We were able to keep our wits about us, walk the boardwalk and actually read the plaques explaining about the protected place.
Theo thought the second round of Biscayne NP was much better. He totally picked up on our stress the first time and was really confused and scared as to why his parents were freaking out. It was pretty sad.
There is ONE trail in the park (well, technically there is another trail on one of the keys) and it is pretty short. It winds around the area and then cuts over to a tiny little strip that goes out towards the keys. Everyone thinks that Key Largo is the first key in the “Florida Keys”, but actually, that is just the first one you can drive to. The keys extend all the way up to Biscayne Bay where they are protected by the park boundaries.
As we stopped to take pictures here at the end of the boardwalk, I didn’t realize there was a MASSIVE spider right above my head.
Gnarly, huh? Madison just about lost her mind. She can’t do spiders.
The little narrow piece of trail takes you out to the protected sea bird areas. Along the way we found a nice bench tat we could finish watching the sun rise on. I think more benches should be placed in the water like this. It was a great addition.
So turns out that our one friend wasn’t alone. There are banana spiders everywhere. As soon as we started looking for them, we started finding them all over.
The visitor’s center was a place of sweet refuge for us in this park. I will always remember that place. I may have lost my sanity that day, but at least I didn’t loose my life.
Near the park there was a little fruit stand. We had a few dollar bills so I went and asked, I will get all the fruit I can buy for 3 dollars. The man then handed me an entire box of mangos! I was so surprised! I would have been happy with 3 mangos, but an entire box! This was awesome! I think Madison and I ate 4 or 5 mangos there on the spot haha. They were delicious and perfectly ready to eat. We froze the rest for smoothies later.
The kitty is always finding the coldest spot in the RV to lay down. He is no dummy! Poor guy. We have a little cooling pad that we lay out for him when we leave him in the RV. We also leave a fan on for him as well. But honestly, Florida is not the place to have pets on the road. It was just too hot.
To get out of the heat in the middle of the day, we would go on mini field trips. Kitty chose PetCo so we could look at the fish. It is his favorite activity until we break the news to him that we can’t kill any of them.
We also took him house shopping. Oh what a life could be like for a kitty with a stable, real home. He could have a carpet tower! A kitty can dream, right??
All in all, we had some amazing experiences in Biscayne. I will go ahead and say it – it wasn’t our favorite park. That being said, we didn’t give it a fair shake as to the “ideal visiting time”. I am sure that it would be great in the winter, when we originally planned to visit. But thanks to Theo, we had to come back and the only time to do it was in the high heat of summer. But the thing is, I would take on clouds of mosquitoes and 10 times the heat we experienced for Theo any day. Traveling is fun, but Theo is our everything.