Several Days in Paradise

by Don Meyer, Ph.D. | Apr 17, 2010

"Every beloved object is the enter point of a paradise."

Evie and I love the Florida Keys. We love the TV commercials about them when the snow is coming down. We love our photos of them on our computer screensavers when our desk work is piling up. We love remembering our last visit long before we arrive. We love planning our next visit while we are still there. 

We have asked ourselves, what is it about the 110 miles from Key Largo to Key West that we love so much? Many people who visit the Keys are water people, the kind who go snorkeling or sailing or kayaking. We did go parasailing once in Key West, but anyone who knows us would not describe us as water people. 

Key Largo is called the "Diving Capital of the World" but the closest we ever got to peering into the stunning blue-green seas was on a glass-bottom boat. 

Islamorada is called the "Purple Isle" where world famous sport fishing occurs. The closest we ever came to catching any fish was when we ordered it off the menu at our favorite restaurant. 

One of our favorite things to do is to take a full day and drive over the 42 bridges from Key Largo to Key West and then back to Key Largo just in time for sunset. 

Even first time tourists quickly learn what locals already know - mile markers identify all the locations along Florida's Scenic Highway Route #1. Here are some of our favorite places. 

MM 99 - The Holiday Inn in Key Largo which has become our home base each time we visit. It has a beautiful pool, a great gift shop, e-mail access, and there is a Dunkin' Donuts shop just around the corner. 

MM 97 - Ballyhoos Restaurant. If you are looking for a fancy place, you would drive right by Ballyhoos. But if you want an old historic shop where authentic fishermen ate in years gone by you wouldn't want to miss it. Their conch chowder and key lime pie are out of this world. 

MM 91 - Several years ago we found this little theater where we go to watch a movie or two if the weather is less than preferred. 

MM 88 - A visit to the Keys would be incomplete if we didn't stop to look at the tropical foliage, colorful flower pots and creative artwork at this quaint garden shop. 

MM 81 - Two of our favorite restaurants in the Keys are close to each other in Islamorada overlooking Morada Bay. Evie's eyes have never been bluer than when they have reflected the brilliant colors of the sunsets we have seen during dinners on Morada Bay. 

MM 50 - Marathon is the halfway point and a great place to get an ice cream cone or look at the yellow bi-plane at the airport ($55.00/ride per person) or just meander through a thriving island town. 

MM 31 - We always look for the Key Deer which are on the endangered species list. They must be endangered because we have never seen them. 

MM 28 - Evie has beaten me there at miniature golf and each time we pass it we smile and remember that day. 

MM 0 - Key West is the destination and we usually arrive in time for a late lunch. We love eating at the Conch Republic Seafood Company which is located right on the dock in downtown Key West. After a short walk to a few stops, including a piece of frozen key lime pie on a stick and ice cream cones, we begin our return over the same 42 bridges. 

Eventually, our visit to the Keys must always come to an end. No matter how many days we visit, we always wish it could be a few more. And though we know we are now out of the Keys, we also know the Keys are not out of us. 

Think about it.

Dr. Don Meyer is President of 
Valley Forge Christian College, Phoenixville, PA 
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