Friday, February 27, 2009

Driving through The Keys

We headed out of the Miami metro area and south-west towards the The Keys.

The drive is approximately 110 miles from the first Key to our destination, Key West. A succession of 45 bridges and causeways connecting the many islands, provide a large continuous road to the our destination.

This view was while sat waiting at a draw-bridge which was opening to allow a large yacht through. We were just West of Key Largo at this point although all of the islands carry a similar aspect of waterfront homes, boats, numerous canals and waterways. Some islands of course are more developed than others.

David behind the wheel

It's not long before you start feeling that boats are a more common form of transport than car.....infact in some areas it's probably true as many islands in The Keys are still boat access only having been 'missed' by the bridges when they were constructed. The dog on the back of this boat seemed happy enough to use this as a mode of transport - for most of his journey he had infact been stood right at the front watching, but only moved to the back just as we went to take the picture !

We hadn't fully appreciated until we arrived, quite how low-lying The Keys are. Infact we read once we had arrived that the highest natural point in the whole of the The Keys is 16.5ft above sea level. Hurricanes are completely devastating when they get them, although the gulf stream means most tend to pass either side rather than taking a direct hit. Along most of the drive down close to the water the homes are built on stilts with all living accommodation upstairs. They are also built of concrete rather than the traditional building material of wood.

Here we are travelling on a causeway created between two islands and you can see the old railway bridge to the right. The railway bridge was actually the first to be built in 1912 by Andrew Morrison Flagler on behalf of Florida East Coast Railway. It was developed to open up a trade route with Cuba and Latin America. The railway was eventually closed in 1968 and the railway bridges are now largely left to walkers and fishing enthusiasts.

Some sections of the railway bridges were removed to allow higher water vessels to pass through, as seen here in the distance on the left.

The drive from Miami to Key West takes approximately 3 hours.

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