Above:  I spent about a week camping at Bahia Honda State Park, mostly getting my website caught up.  It's one of the best state parks in the U.S. and I had probably the best campsite in America.

Back to Bahia Honda

After getting off the Tortugas ferry in Key West, I walked back to my truck in the garage, tossed my backpack in the back, then drove through Key West and stopped at a Publix to stock up on groceries. 

I realized, as I walked into the store, that this would be my southernmost stop during my drive around the country.  I thought about driving a few blocks over to the large colorful concrete buoy in Key West that proudly (and inaccurately) proclaims that it’s the southernmost point of the continental U.S. but it was dark.  Besides, I’d been there several times before, the first time when I was just four.  The last time I stopped at the buoy, in 1995, I met a guy there who, believe it or not, makes his living from tips, taking pictures of folks who stand by the marker.   Or at least “made his living.”  I’d surmise that the cell phone and the selfie stick have put him out of business by now.

I loaded up at Publix with my typical traveling fare:  blueberry muffins and bananas for breakfast, Doritos for lunch, and fried chicken and potato salad for dinner (it’s a wonder I’m still alive), then I headed back up U.S. 1, reaching Bahia Honda State Park around 9 p.m.  Florida state parks are gated and their campgrounds are closed after dark, which is a strange concept to this Oregonian because Oregon state park campgrounds are never gated, but I knew the code for the lock, so I entered the RV campground and found the campsite that I’d reserved a month earlier.  In the darkness I backed the truck into my campsite and an hour later, I hopped into the back and got ready for bed.  A large and boisterous family was camping in the next site, just a few feet from my truck, but I tried to ignore them.

Several weeks earlier I’d made camping reservations at Bahia Honda State Park but managed to find campsites only for tonight and the next night.  As I mentioned before, competition for campsites at Bahia Honda is fierce, especially this time of year, and the three campgrounds are packed every night.  Knowing this, I’d decided to make camping reservations at several state parks on the Florida mainland for the coming week after spending a few nights at Bahia Honda.  But just before I went to bed, around 11 p.m., I took out my laptop and checked the camping reservation webpage at Bahia Honda, hoping there’d been a recent cancellation.  I got excited – downright elated, actually – when I saw a campsite vacancy for an entire week at Bahia Honda’s prized Sandspur campground starting in a few days; somebody must’ve just cancelled.  Without hesitating I pounced on it, then cancelled my reservations on the mainland for that week.  I couldn’t believe my luck – or, I should say, “persistence” because during the previous week, I’d checked the reservation status at Bahia Honda numerous times.

After another night in the RV campground at Bahia Honda, I moved over to my week-long campsite in the idyllic Sandspur campground.  It felt great to have a home for an entire week, especially in one of the best campsites (Site #60) I’ve ever stayed at:  quiet and secluded, just a few yards from the beach, and with green iguanas that occasionally scampered through the campsite (they taste like Publix chicken – but not that I would personally know).  Camping just doesn’t get any better than this.  One morning I walked through the park and went on an interesting ranger-led history tour of the park, learning about the park's background, including the railroad that once ran through the park but was destroyed during a terrible hurricane that swept through the keys in 1935. 

Bahia Honda is fabulous, by far the best state park in the Florida Keys with several nice sandy beaches and a small marina with tour boats that you can take offshore to go diving among the stellar coral reefs.  I wish I could stay here forever.

The Never-Ending Task

When I wasn't going on ranger tours, walking on the beach, or watching iguanas scurry through my campsite, I spent most of my week at Sandspur campground getting my website caught up.  I’ve said this before but travel bloggers often face a conundrum while on the road:  do we travel or do we write about our travels?  Unfortunately we can’t do both.  Sometimes I have to force myself to stay put somewhere and write about my adventures during the previous days/weeks when I'd rather be out traveling.  Fortunately though, my tropical campsite was the perfect place to write updates, so that's how I spent most of the week. 

So how do I create a webpage, you might ask?  Well, maybe you're not asking and don't really care, but I'll tell you anyway.  There are four components to each of my webpages:  the text, photos, photo captions, and map, and each component takes me a while to create, and much longer than you'd probably imagine.  Creating and updating a travel website is not a quick-and-easy process, unfortunately, so be careful if you ever decide to create one during your travels.  On the positive side though, you can keep it posted for years to come, as I've done with my DelsJourney website, and can look back on it occasionally to relive your adventures.

To create a webpage, I first look at the photos I’ve shot during the previous day(s) to refresh my memory of my travels.  Then I write the text, which is a sometimes-painful process because I'm such a slow writer.  After that, I work on the photos, picking out the best ones to post.  Sorting through my pictures can take a while because I often shoot hundreds of pictures in a single day hoping to get a few good ones, though on other days I'll only shoot one or two.  On my first day in the Tortugas, for instance, I shot 619 pictures – and only one selfie, I can proudly state!  After I pick out the photos I want to post on my webpage, I open Photoshop and resize and crop them to 1400 x 933 pixels, then I write captions into a separate text file.  I then use FTP software and upload the whole batch of photos and the text file with the captions to my web server. 

The last step is creating the interactive map and for that I use an application called ArcGIS Online, a web mapping tool from ESRI, a computer mapping company.  I’ve been using ESRI mapping software since my college days in the early 1980s, so that helps.  After I create the map using a program called ArcGIS, I upload it to the ESRI server, copy the HTML code they provide, and paste that code into the upper-right corner of my webpage to display the map.

Between all that plus the website management, like creating a drop-down menu for that webpage and adding navigational links, a single webpage usually takes me from four to six hours to create.  If I were just blogging with text or Instagramming with photos, it would be a lot quicker, of course.  But being the obsessive person I am, I like doing the whole package, with text, interactive maps, and captioned photos.  The downside of creating a travel website, like I say, is that while I’m creating the webpages, I’m not out traveling around and that can be frustrating at times.  I want to preserve these stories, though, so that years from now I can look back and relive this trip, so I figure creating a website is worth it. 

And like I say, this campsite at Sandspur was the perfect place to write my updates.  I take out my laptop every morning and write.  And write.  And write.  Then in the evenings after dinner, and perhaps after a stroll on the beach, I take out my laptop again, but this time to watch a movie.  I watched the old Bogart & Bacall movie, “To Have and Have Not” last night and greatly enjoyed it.  What a perfect setting to watch that Caribbean classic, eh?

When I wasn't updating my website this week, I spent a lot of time thinking about my travel plans.  I've decided, after giving it some thought, to change my plans and head back home at the end of this month because something has been telling me to get back to Oregon.  I've also gotten a little tired of traveling, to be honest.  Having to move from site-to-site, dealing with the constant winds (November is the windiest month in Florida), and the heavy humidity has taken its toll, so I’ve decided to scrap my plans of staying in Florida this winter and resuming my trip around the country in the spring. 

Instead, I’m going to drive back to the Northwest next week after I visit the final three extreme compass points in southern Florida.  So far I’ve hit 14 of the 16 extreme compass points around the U.S., the last one I visited being the easternmost point of the U.S. in Maine, back in September.  I only have three points left:  the southernmost, southeasternmost, and south-southeasternmost points of the U.S., and all of them are close to here in southern Florida.  So after I visit those points, I'm heading back home.

Kicking Back in Bahia Honda State Park



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