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[ft-l] We interrupt this hike...

..for a holiday weekend in the Florida Keys. Since some of this touches on 
the FT and FT activities, wanted to give you an update. 

My sister and our friend from Greece wanted to do New Years Eve in Key West. 
So Rich and I shook out the tents, loaded the big red wagon, and off we all 
went. First stop Fri eve: the Youth Hostel in Florida City. They've got an FT 
sticker on the door, so we thought "hey, cool!" But no room at the inn. We 
were allowed to tent in the back yard, but for (what I considered) a steep 
price -- $11 per person (not per tent), as opposed to the $13 per person 
everyone else paid to sleep indoors. It was a damn cold night. Although the 
places is neat, clean, fun, and funky, we had a couple other problems with 
it. They wanted to charge $3 extra per person to use the shower (although the 
indoor folks didn't have to pay extra) AND quiet time after 10pm didn't 
extend to the back yard. We had to contend with arguementive drunks stumbling 
over our tents, and I finally had to get up at 2 AM and politely inform the 
oblivious that people were trying to sleep out there...THEN they shut up. I 
didn't get much sleep, between the noi
se and the cold.

About ten miles south of the hostel, into the Everglades, I realized that 
someone stole gas out of my car while we were at the hostel. I'd filled it up 
the night before, and at least 8 gallons were missing. So I was bummed all 
around about the experience. Hope it works better for folks hiking through -- 
although I'd recommend sleeping indoors, NOT in your tent! Rositas' Mexican 
Restaurant across the street had great food.

Onward to Key West. We would pick the coldest, cloudiest weekend of the year. 
But we had a great time, despite paying through the nose for a room. Camping 
space cost $55 to pitch a tent--unbelievable! The place was packed.

Rich and I searched the youth hostel and Jabor's campground (on the wharf) 
for the "Hike For Hope" crowd that was supposed to start their East Coast 
hike on Jan 1, but had no luck. No one had even heard of them. We did see 
three southbound backpackers in different parts of the Keys -- a couple and a 

Interesting to note the new Florida Keys Overseas Heritage Trail all along 
the way. The Office of Greenways and Trails is heavily involved in this 
effort, as is Rails to Trails. It would be nice if FT people jumped in 
too...our trail could (sharing the right of way) extend to Key West! This 
effort is connecting Key Largo with Key West via the old Overseas highway 
route. In places its a paved bike trail, in other places hardpacked 
limestone. The ultimate goal is to fix up all the old bridges to serve as 
pedestrian/bicycle route throughout the Keys. The parts we saw that are done 
look great and safe. 

There are quite a few state parks along the way. We stopped at a new one, the 
fossil reef along Plantation Key. It has a couple of very interesting trails 
through tropical forest, plus walks through the fossil reef rock quarries 
that were in operation through the 1960s. No camping, but nice stop for a 
hike. Key West itself caters to walking. No lack of foot usage this weekend! 

Back to Green Swamp in another week...Happy New Year to all!

Cheers, Sandy