From time to time, we all get a little stir crazy. This is a particularly poignant point given the current situation. Of all of the…unplanned (shall we say?) adventures we took with my mother as children, one moment stands out in particular. Let me set the scene for you.
My mother had just given birth to my youngest sister. Without any real notice, she loaded us into the car, baby included and hopped onto the road. Before we really got going, we stopped at the grocery store and picked up some lunch items. From there, our little car headed straight to the main thoroughfare and she asked us one question: Should we go left or should we go right?
A cascade of ‘Left!’ rained down on her. With only a direction, we exited left and continued to tool down the highway. In a few short hours, we found ourselves on the shores of the Gulf of Mexico.
Our Trip to Nowhere
“I really want to see some water,” that thought had been on my mind for several days. Maybe spurned on by the prolonged discouragement from local officials to go to the beach (you know, I’m a rebel*) or because I’d been longing to visit one of the rest area’s in Architectural Digest’s 15 Most Beautiful Rest Stops in America, who really knows. All I knew is, I wanted to see water and I wouldn’t mind a non-commute related drive.
Paige and Kate joined me on Friday, with Jack and Lily in tow. We hadn’t really planned anything for the Fourth of July–what with Coronavirus and the country considering what Independence Day really meant in a grand scheme of things. The constellation of things: coronavirus, a desire to see water, and an itch for the road culminated in one question for the girls and I to consider.
Left or Right?
We had two options: drive to St.Pete, and sit on the water in our car or drive to the most vague, and geographically closest, rest stop on the AD list. Once again, left prevailed. We packed the whole gang into the Jeep and set off down 80 toward Route 1.
We started our trip ~roughly~ in the area of Labelle. From 80, we hopped onto Highway 27. Highway 27 took us across the state to 75 and that carried us all the way down to Route 1.
Route 1, as many of you know, takes you down along the Eastern seaboard, and is an absolutely goregous ride. Full warning though, it’s super slow–so maybe not a trip for those in a rush.
About a third of the way down to the Keys, we pulled through Clewiston to top up on gas and grab what would amount to our packed lunch. We debated stopping in at the Wal-Mart (which had an ungodly amount of people in the parking lot) and grabbing some items for packed lunch, but instead opted for the Family Meal Deal from Sonny’s.
After our top up, and a very long, but understandable wait, we were back on the road!
At last, at last! We arrive at the Famed Florida Keys. Initially, I’d put the Keys Visitor Center as our final destination. But imagine my confusion (and maybe a little horror) when we rolled past a weather-beaten white building with the words VISITOR’S CENTER printed across the top. There was not an ocean, nor a Gulf View and it was very, very much closed.
So we asked ourselves another question: should we stay or should we go?
Another quick examination of AD’s article leads us an hour further down the road, to Seven Mile Bridge, where the supposed rest area was. With the holiday, Monroe County decided to implement the preventative measure of closing all public beaches, county-owned parks, and state parks.
As we barrelled toward Seven Mile Bridge at a mind-spinning 45 miles per hour, we spied a perfect place to have a (now somewhat cold) lunch along a fishing pier. Check out the pier for yourself here.
After our lunch, and commemorating Lil’s first road trip, we continued our search for one of the most beautiful rest areas. Dusk was quickly upon us, and as we reached the Seven Mile Bridge, there was no open rest stop that we could see.
According to the Florida Department of Transportation, there are no rest areas in the Florida Keys. A curious assertion after reading AD’s article. After stopping at the Overseas Highway Pier for some lunch, we think the rest area maybe a little less official than originally asserted. And while there was no thatched roof paradise waiting for just before or beyond the Seven Mile Bridge, we had an absolutely excellent trip.
Now, I have a question for you: which way ya goin’? Left or right…
Thanks for traveling with us!
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